LIFESTYLE

Where are they now? Jeff Smith, comic book author, creator of "Bone"

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

In February 1984, Columbus Monthly published a story about 24-year-old Ohio State sophomore Jeff Smith and his "Thorn" comic strip that ran in The Lantern. Smith had just self-published a collection of the strips. That early work evolved into his award-winning and bestselling graphic novel series "Bone," a fantasy epic that blends humorous cartoon characters with serious literary themes. We caught up with Smith, who lives in German Village, to talk about the arc of his cartooning career.

I didn't really think anyone would want to publish a book by a college kid, so it didn't even occur to me to shop ["Thorn"] around. My wife Vijaya-we weren't married at the time-helped me out, and about six or seven years later when we did "Bone" the comic book, she helped me out again and became my partner.

Three books came out in 1986 that really grabbed my attention: "Maus" by Art Spiegelman, "The Dark Night Returns" by Frank Miller and "Watchmen" by Alan Moore. Those books caught the whole comics industry by surprise because they were big, fat books with a literary structure and a beginning, middle and an end. I'm not sure I believed the world was ready for comics, but I knew that comics were ready for me. I had this giant, epic story I wanted to tell with traditional cartoon characters. Then, when I got into comics and actually began making contacts in the industry, it became clear that there was a wave of us that really wanted to do more with comics and break out of the little hobby shops. There was this sense in the '90s that, "Yeah, this is something; we're gonna break out." And of course we did, because I think everybody knows about graphic novels now. -As told to Ivy Lamb