Jeff Smith interview (May 2005)

May 27, 2005 | Interviews


Jeff Smith has received critical acclaim and achieved commercial success with his original comic book series, Bone.
But the compliments that may have meant the most have been the ones he’s received since the recent release of Bone by Scholastic Books in a colourized version aimed at kids.
“At every single signing I’ve been to over the past three months, there’s been a teacher or parent who’s come up to me and said ‘this is my kid who wouldn’t read anything and I gave them your book and now he’s read all your books and he’s reading other things,’” Smith, 45, told Metro in a telephone interview from his office in Columbus, Ohio.
“I’ve met seven-year-old little girls who are clutching that giant 1,300-page (Bone: The One Volume Edition) to their chests and I’ll say ‘did you read that whole book?’ and they’ll nod their head and I’ll ask “did you like it?’ and they’ll nod their heads again.
“I never expected that.”
Smith, one of the featured guests at this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival on Markham St. (behind Honest Ed’s at Bathurst and Bloor), says he’s excited to be among an impressive and diverse crop of over 200 proudly independent cartoonists attending.
“There’s been an amazing amount of energy that’s been put in by indie publishers, self-publishers and the smaller press publishers that are really trying to make a statement with the types of books they present,” Smith says.
“These graphic novels by indie people are more like artistic novels. “
As he approaches the anniversary of the completion of his 12-year-long telling of Bone, Smith says he’s proud of what he was able to accomplish as an independent creator.
“I feel really good to be able to take the book now that it’s a complete one volume edition and put it on the shelf and say ‘that’s done, now I can do something else,’” he says.
The success of Bone hasn’t got him feeling any pressure to repeat that, either.
“Bone was Bone. Whatever I do next will be different and if nobody likes it that’s fine and if they do then that’s fine, too,” he says.
Ironically, the next project for Smith is working in the mainstream, writing and drawing a Shazam limited series for DC Comics.
“I thought it would be fun to try that to see what it was like,” Smith says.
“I’m having a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’ll do it again because I prefer working on my own characters.
“Although, I have to admit, the nine-year-old in me is having a great time. It’s a great time drawing people flying and crashing through walls.”

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