I got the chance to met 10 time Eisner Award winner, Jeff Smith, at the Emerald City Comicon. He’s most well known for the long running series Bone. The first time I encountered Jeff Smith’s work was under very unusual circumstances. I wanted to make a special gift for a friend, and I knew the two things that were very special to him were chess and Bone comics. I knew nothing about either, so I went to the internet back in 2002 to find everything I could to put together a handmade chess set. That was when I fell in love with the characters. They were cute and heroic, which strangely enough is the same reason I love Usagi Yojimbo and Mouse Guard. However, I’m not the only one. Bone went on for over ten years with 55 issues, and I remember the very last issue, which came out in the summer of 2004. That same friend and I picked it up at the local comic shop and raced home to read it.
Jeff Smith had a long line at his table. He made sure to spend time with each of his fans, and chronicled his adventures in photos on his blog. The most amazing thing to me about meeting Jeff Smith was how much of himself is represented in his characters. I’ve only read Bone, so I don’t know if it applies to his other works, but I found him to be kind, upbeat, friendly, silly, and very cool, just like his characters, especially Fone Bone. I bet he’d even try to save the world if put to the challenge.
Jeff Smith received a Double Chocolate cupcake with chocolate decor, which sat on display at his table during comicon. One of the most amazing things about Jeff Smith’s work and incredibly extensive fan base is that he’s self published. It’s one thing to create your own characters and stories, but then publish and distribute your own work on top of that is very impressive. It’s a wonderful example of how determination and perseverance can pay off.
Also, it’s important to mention that Bone is family friendly and a great comic to entice kids to read. Some of the ideas can get a little complicated at times, but I feel like older elementary age kids will fall in love with the adventures and the humor. I didn’t start reading the stories until I was in my late teens, but I was hooked by the first issue. Some people say reading comics isn’t like reading a book, and that might be true, but the ideals are the same. You have metaphors, symbolism, themes, and you could write a book report on one if you really wanted to. Comics have just as much depth and complexity as a book, just in a different media. A good graphic novel will work the same number of brain cells as a good book, and if it gets your kids to start taking an interest in reading, then it’s a plus. Jeff Smith also wrote the book The Little Mouse Gets Ready, which is aimed at an even younger audience, and there’s still more work coming out.
Jeff Smith is currently on tour through October, and I hope you’ll stop in and see him if he comes to your town.