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Jeff Smith’s ‘Bone’ Goes From Comic Book to Gallery Wall

After launching his first issue in 1991, Jeff Smith's popular comic book series, "Bone," has sold over 4 million copies and is part of a new exhibition at the Wexner Center For the Arts at Ohio State University. Jeffrey Brown profiles Smith's work and influences.

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    Are you surprised to see comics, your comics, any comics, on the walls of a museum?

  • JEFF SMITH, Cartoonist:

    Well, yes, of course. I mean, I grew up when you had to hide your comics inside your math book, you know?


    Cartoonist Jeff Smith, now 48, is no longer hiding anything. An exhibition featuring original drawings from his hugely successful "Bone" comics is now on display at the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University in Columbus.

    "Bone" is epic fantasy featuring three comically goofy cousins, Fone, Phoney, Smiley, who get lost in a strange world, complete with dragons, scary rat creatures, and a mysterious young woman named Thorn with a hidden past as a princess.

    The series has attracted an adult audience, some 400 people here for a book signing. And that's who Smith says he originally had in mind. But, in recent years, he's also gained a substantial following among young readers. Sometimes, the appeal is all in the family. Professional critics have described "Bone" as a cross between Bugs Bunny and "Lord of the Rings." And that's just fine with Smith.


    What I wanted to do was take, like, you know, very traditional Americana cartoon characters like, you know, a Donald Duck or a Bugs Bunny, and stick them into like, a larger framework, instead of just the usual short, you know, comic book adventure that we all think of.