Tagged: Jeff Smith

Molly Jackson: Banned Books – Why, Oh Why?


ComicMix’s very own Tweeks announced their Summer Reading Challenge, reading banned and challenged graphic novels. It struck me as a fantastic idea and a great way to encourage people of all ages to try something new. But their challenge also brought up the fact that I never understood the concept of banning books.

I grew up in a house where everything was fair game. Nothing was off limits or banned, especially books. I could read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I read outside of my age range often and if I had questions, my parents were there to answer them or direct me to someone that could. When I went through my Chaim Potok phase, a member of my synagogue made time just to answer my questions. No one seemed to mind that I was reading books written for adults at the age of 12. They trusted me and my parents to make the correct decision for me.

In looking over the reading list, the week 1 book really caught my eye. Bone Vol. 1 by Jeff Smith, also known as a go-to book series for young readers was a challenged book. Not only did that surprise me, it finally gave me a reason to read it. (It had been on my reading list but that list is too long.) After reading it, I had a laundry list of talking points that completely agree with The Tweeks. In a nutshell, grownups are sheltering kids.

Adults often forget how much kids see, hear and experience from the world around them. Books are the least concern. The 6pm evening news is more graphic and offensive than Bone Vol. 1. And parents today forget that kids have access to the web; something they never did. Even with parental controls, kids can discover adult topics on the internet. They are going to find out about drugs, sex, alcohol and politics one way or another. By hiding it, a message is sent that it is wrong to explore the world. It would be so much better if they were met with guidance instead of shaming. Lack of knowledge is what hurts people the most.

Parents seem so concerned to keep their kids from discovering the different aspects of the world. Sometimes that is the right move. Not every book is for everyone. But I am glad no one made the decision for me.

Tweeks: Banning Bone is Boneheaded #ChallengedChallenge

Welcome to Week 1 of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge, where we take a different book on the CBLDF’s list of the most challenged & banned comic books for young readers and we break down the reasons why it might be on the list. We also give it a quick review and discuss some of the main issues.

This week we talk about Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith. This is a book we have loved since we were 8 years old and truly is the book that introduced us to graphic novels. It’s a story about strangers in a strange land and in telling of Bone and his cousins, kids gets some examples of the consequences that can result when you aren’t well-behaved.

Spoiler Alert: We think it’s crazy that this book would even be considered being banned. Watch our episode to see why.

Wiley Miller Wins Reuben Award

Wiley Miller won the Reuben Award this year, the major honor also known as the National Cartoonists Society award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. One of the most esteemed awards in the world of comics, past winners include Charles Schulz, Hal Foster and Al Capp. The other nominees were Hilary Price, Stephan Pastis and Mark Tatuli.

Comics winners of potential specific interest to readers of this site given our coverage areas included animator/comics-maker Hayao Miyazaki for [[[The Wind Rises]]] in feature animation; Jeff Smith for Tuki as the long-form on-line strip; Andrew C. Robinson for [[[The Fifth Beatle]]] as the graphic novel of the year; Sergio Aragones for Sergio Aragones Funnies as the honored comic book. I think this may have been the first year with two categories for on-line work; the short-form version went to Ryan Pagelow for Buni.

via The Comics Reporter.

REVIEW: Chickenhare

By Chris Grine
160 pages, Scholastic Graphix, $10.99

ChickenhareI have no idea what possessed Chris Grine to add a chicken’s legs to a rabbit’s body but he has blended two animals into the unique creature Chickenhare. Created back in 2005, Grine published two graphic novels through Dark Horse before going to the web with a portion of his third story. Now, Scholastic’s Graphix imprint has brought the first book out in full color for the first time this month.

Some compare the series to Jeff Smith’s wonderful Bone, but really, beyond some surface similarity with the artwork, they are very different. First, Bone has a deep mythology and sophistication to the characterizations and writing that set it apart from similar fare. Grine’s work is very entertaining and well-crafted but he’s intentionally creating stories for far younger readers than Smith was aiming for. While his work is All Ages, this work is clearly aimed at 9-12 year olds and for them, this is terrific stuff.

The story, originally published as The House of Klaus, opens with Chickenhare and his pal, the bearded box turtle friend, Abe already captured and about to be delivered to Klaus, the reclusive millionaire. Klaus loves to surround himself with exotic animals and ever since his beloved goat Mr. Buttons left him, he’s accumulated animals but performs sloppy taxidermy on them in order to retain them. Chickenhare and Abe are kept in cages, along with Banjo, an unexplained species called a krampus, and Meg, another unknown species. Once the four escape, the remainder of the story is an elaborate chase with a hefty dose of mysticism. Klaus is dressed intentionally to appear like a maniacal Santa Claus which is just one layer of oddity atop oddity.

The world of Chickenhare is all surface with plenty left to explore and explain but Grine’s artwork is swell, and it takes color wonderfully. He blogged last month, “I’m happy to say that since that time I have worked hard toward my goal of being able to do the kind of color I felt Chickenhare needed should the time ever come when I could relaunch the series in full color.” And he does a lovely job with the color, a mild palette that doesn’t overwhelm the characters or obscure the storytelling.

Grine’s artwork is well complemented with his writing, as the pacing is crisp and keeps things moving at a good speed for his reader. Additionally, his dialogue makes each character distinct although Klaus’ butler comes across like a watered-down Alfred. Still, Chickenhare’s heroic nature, coupled with Abe’s support and Meg’s snappy patter, make the story a joy to read.


Mindy Newell: Are Comics Genetic?

Is reading comics genetic? Is there a gene that dictates whether or not you’re going to be a comics lover?

I don’t remember when I first fell in love with reading comics. Hell, with reading, period. Just got off of the phone from my mom, who said that by the time I was in kindergarten I always had my nose in a book, which puts me at about four years old. She also said that I was reading at the third grade level

“What about before kindergarten, Mom?”

“You would go to our bookshelves and pull out a book and turn the pages and talk to yourself as if you were reading.”

“Was I?”

“I don’t know, I don’t remember. Oh, and you loved to look at the illustrations.”

“You mean picture books?”

“No, I mean the illustrations in Last Of The Mohicans and Alice In Wonderland and The Three Musketeers. You got milk stains over our Book-of-the-Month Club leather-bound copies with the N.C. Wyeth drawings and drove your father nuts.”

I still get food and drink all over my books.

“What about comics?”

“I just remember that you always read them.”

“That was in the ‘50’s, right? Weren’t you worried that I was going to corrupt my poor innocent brain?”

“No. You were reading, that’s what was important.”

“But did you ever read comics? Did Daddy?”

“Nope. Neither of us.”

“And Glenn never read them, either, right?”

“You were the only one.”

Are comics genetic? Is there a gene that dictates whether or not you’re going to be a comics lover?

Just got off the phone from Alixandra.

“Hey, Alix, you weren’t really a comics reader when you were a kid, right?”

“Nope. Well, Betty And Veronica.”

“But I don’t remember you reading them the way I do, right?”

“Right. But I loved reading.”

“But not comics. Not like me.”


So reading comics isn’t genetic. There is no gene that dictates whether or not you’re going to be a comics lover.


Several weeks ago I went out to dinner with the family – mom, dad, my brother and sister-in-law, and my soon-to-be 12 years old niece, Isabel.

She had Jeff Smith’s The Complete Bone Adventures Volume 1 on her lap, and was trying to surreptitiously read without getting caught or getting food on it.

I was so impressed. Not for trying to sneak reading while out to dinner with others – that’s not exactly polite social manners, is it? – but for having discovered Jeff Smith’s totally cool story on her own.

I love Bone, too, Isabel.

Isabel loves comics. Has it been my influence? I’m not sure. Meaning, what came first, the chicken or the egg? I remember giving her a full year’s worth of Louise Simonson’s Power Pack for her 5th birthday – I think it was her 5th birthday, this is what happens to your brain on menopause; girls, don’t do menopause if you can avoid it – but was it because I knew she loved comics or was it because I wanted to turn her on to comics?

She has a huge collection of Archie, including the graphic novel that collects stories from the beginning to the present. Favors Veronica over Betty (she looks like little Ronnie, but she hates when I tease her about it) and thinks Reggie is mean, Jughead is dumb, and Midge and Moose are cool. Izzy really likes the Archie Marries Veronica/Archie Marries Betty storyline. But she’s not so much for the “new look” – she goes for the classic.

Me, too.

I’ve got a comic book she made for me when she was six. It’s about a vampire. Isabel loves vampire stories.

Me, too.

So reading comics is genetic? There is a gene that dictates whether or not you’re going to be a comics lover?

Damned if I know.

TUESDAY MORNING: Michael Davis Expletive Deleted

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten, Women, and Costumes



Bone: The Quest for the Spark Continues in Volume Two

Since the color editions of Bone began appearing nearly a decade ago, Jeff Smith’s delightful series has become synonymous with Scholastic’s Graphix imprint. In 2009, Scholastic concluded a deal that allows them to publish expansion material set in the Bone universe such as the Tall Tales collection that came out a while back.

Last year, a new series, Quest for the Spark, began but what made this unique was that these books would be illustrated prose works. Tom Sniegoski, who collaborated on Tall Tales, has been penning the stories while Smith (with colorist Steve Hamaker) has provided the covers and spot illustrations. Volume two is due out momentarily with volume three coming this summer.

When this was first announced, Smith noted on his website, “I was a bit unsure about this project when Tom first suggested it, but when I read the first book I laughed so hard, I agreed to do it. Scholastic was so blown away by it, that they decided to make it available in hardcover and wanted the illustrations, of which I think I’m going to do about twenty, full bleed and in color.”

The reality is the second book as 12 full page pieces along with spot art but it’s all nicely spaced out. So, what are the books about? Well, first of all, these are considered Bone: Legacy even though you the reader will call them Quest for the Spark. They include characters from the original series including the Two Stupid Rat Creatures and Roderick the Raccoon, Master of the Eastern Border, Thorn Harvestar, and Rose (Gran’ma Ben) Harvestar.  While mentioned, the Bone cousins will not be seen nor are active participants. (more…)

Jeff Smith brings more “Bone” in 2010

Jeff Smith brings more “Bone” in 2010

Good news for big fans like myself of Jeff Smith’s Bone. Comic Book Resources just posted a press release from Scholastic promising four new graphic novels, the first new story in that universe since 2002’s Rose. Don’t take my word for it:

First to be published will be “BONE: Tall Tales,” coming in Summer 2010, written by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski, and illustrated by Jeff Smith, featuring new art and stories with favorite BONE characters. In addition, Scholastic will publish a highly-anticipated expansion of the BONE world—the Quest for the Spark Trilogy. Overseen by Smith, the trilogy will be written by Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Jeff Smith. “BONE Quest for the Spark: Book One” (Fall 2010), “BONE Quest for the Spark: Book Two” (Spring 2011), and “BONE Quest for the Spark: Book Three” (Summer 2011) represent the first time Smith has continued the adventures set in the valley since the publication of Rose, the prequel to the BONE series.

It seems a little odd that Smith won’t be writing the characters that propelled him to indie stardom, but if you’re anything like me, next summer now can’t come soon enough. Go check out the press release for the full story, including some interesting sales figures and a little more background on Bone newcomer Sniegoski: Press Release via CBR

YA Friday: ‘Chiggers’ and ‘Thoreau at Walden’

YA Friday: ‘Chiggers’ and ‘Thoreau at Walden’

Manga are temporarily in short supply around here, so the usual “Manga Friday” slot is being taken by a close cousin. (Think of this as just another wacky hijink, Patty Duke Show-style.) Instead of manga, I have two books for younger readers that came out earlier in 2008, one very clearly for girls, and the other more gender-neutral.

By Hope Larson
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Ginee Seo Books, June 2008, $17.99 (hardcover) and $9.99 (paperback)

Chiggers is set at a summer camp, and the major characters are all tween girls. (If I’ve figured it out correctly, they’re all in eighth grade.) The viewpoint character is Abby – she’s the first one to arrive in her cabin, this year, and ends up a little out of step with her cabin-mates. (Larson doesn’t tell the reader this – she doesn’t have any narration – but we see Abby nonplussed several times by her very-slightly-more-worldly friends.

Abby’s first bunkmate leaves very quickly, due to chiggers. (Look ‘em up, if you don’t know. And be glad you don’t live in the same places they do.) And she gets a new bunkmate: Shasta, who all the other girls quickly decide they don’t like. Shasta’s a little full of herself – she’s on medication, can’t do a lot of camp activities, got hit by lightning, is one-eighth Cherokee, has an older Internet boyfriend – but Abby genuinely likes Shasta.

Chiggers is low-key; there are no major events. (Even by the overly-dramatic standards of a twelve-year-old girl.) Abby and Shasta meet, become friend, squabble, make up. Abby also meets a boy who thinks she looks like a half-elf – and I’m afraid I can remember a time in my own life when I would have thought that was a nice thing to say to someone. (Luckily, Abby takes it the right way.)


Jeff Smith’s ‘RASL’ Sells Out

Jeff Smith’s ‘RASL’ Sells Out


Good news for Jeff Smith, as RASL #1 is going back to press.

Smith mentioned that the first issue has sold out in a blog post about his trip to Las Vegas for ComicsPro, the second annual meeting of direct-market comics retailers.

We immediately learned that most retailers were sold out of RASL #1, and had been for weeks! During the Cartoon Books presentation I announced that RASL #1 would be going back to press. The new printing, which will sport a new color logo (and a price on the cover of the book!) will be offered through Diamond soon. Our intitial orders for #1 were 20,000 and we printed an extra 4,000 which we blew through the first weekend.

If you haven’t yet read RASL and want to hear a little more about it before picking up a copy of the second printing, my review is right here.

For those who care about things like first editions, good luck finding a copy. The stores are cleaned out and there are hardly any copies on eBay.

On This Day: Lori Lemaris, Norm Breyfogle and Jeff Smith

On This Day: Lori Lemaris, Norm Breyfogle and Jeff Smith

Though the ocean tides play havoc with calendars, today is officially recognized as the birthday of Lori Lemaris, mermaid of Atlantis and one-time girlfriend of Superman. Don’t ask how old she is, though—a lady never reveals, not even a lady fish.

In the “real” world, today is also the birthday of comic book artist Norm Breyfogle and comic book creator Jeff Smith. Both were born in 1960.

Breyfogle is best known for his work on various Batman titles, while Jeff Smith is the creator of the popular Bone comic book series.

Happy birthday, guys!