November 18, 2006
Usually when comics are mentioned here, it's in the context of an animated film or television show that has been adapted from a comic. This time, I'd like to direct your attention to a comic that has no animated adaptation or origin that began in the early '90s, named Bone. Jeff Smith is a cartoonist and former animator that created a self-published comic that, from the start, was wildly successful to comic readers who were looking for something refreshing, suspenseful, funny and as a result, highly engaging.
There are many different elements that recommend it, including the strength of Smith's art. Anyone who is interested in animation will appreciate the deftness of Smith's line, and the movement and expression implicit in his work. While his visual and literary voices are clear, a number of influences mark his work, most notably Walt Kelly's (another animator who became a comic artist). Interestingly, on Smith's website he is quoted as saying, "I was writing for the same audience I perceived those old Disney animated films were aimed at: the movie going public." His visual storytelling and pacing convey this successfully.
Originally conceived for adults, children have also become a large part of his audience, due to syndication in Disney periodicals and a publishing deal with Scholastic. Similarly to quality animation, kids often prefer stories that don't talk down to them.
Smith is currently on a world tour to promote his creation, which has been translated into over a dozen languages. His North American French-language publisher is hosting his Montreal visit, this weekend, November 18 and 19 at the Salon du livre. To see when he will visit your city, look up his tour dates here.
If you love sequential art, animated and otherwise, but are not already reading Bone, I highly recommend that you start soon.