Monthly Archives: January 2007

Blogs are the new letters page

Blog entry by Jeff

Here are two web-links:  

 - – Vaneta Rogers interviewed me about my Captain Marvel project, Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil.  Read it on Newsarama.

 - -  Variety, the daily  Hollywood magazine asked a bunch of “experts” like Sen. James Webb, Sen. John McCain, Robert F. Kennedy Jr,Hugh Hefner, Kurt Vonnegut, and me (!), for our favorite films related to our line of work in a special called The Gold Standard. Read it on Variety's web site.

I love comics. I collected them when I was a kid. Now that more and more comics are appearing in completed, long form works called graphic novels that read and function like traditional books, letters pages are dissappearing. For those of you new to comics, letters pages ran in the back of comic books and printed reader comments.  It was a forum; a dialog of sorts. An important source of feedback and communication. Blogs are becoming the place where cartoonists and readers interact, so ready or not, here are a couple of e-mails I recently received at the Boneville Blog. The first one is about the Scholastic BONE books: 

Thank you so much, Jeff, for writing these fabulous books! I work with an Autistic boy who is 12 years old. He is just beginning to read. Autistic students are highly visual in their learning and your books have drawn him in like no others! They are age appropriate, which is wonderful! He was even able to predict what would happen and we were both thrilled when he read the words "Shut up!" from Book 2 on page 105. Then the 2 of us rolled over laughing! I am looking forward to reading Books 3 and 4 with him and look forward to Book 5 in February! I will strongly recommend your books at all Autistic Conferences I attend!

Once again, a HUGE THANK YOU!

Ms. Tobi Proulx 

The boy's name is Logan. Kathleen asked Ms. Proulx if I could send him a drawing…

 Dear Kathleen,

As you can see by the pictures, Logan was thrilled to receive his autographed picture from Jeff Smith! He was presented the picture at a whole school assembly. Our library has just ordered a set and the students are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Thank you so much for taking the time to make a little boy so very proud and pleased! You made me very proud and pleased also!   Sincerely,

Tobi Proulx

That was pretty cool… you never know. This next letter is funny… 

Dear Jeff Smith,

I thought I'd share a story with you from my youth. When I was a kid, my favorite superhero was Captain Marvel. I was obsessed with his TV show and the cartoon. The comics were hard to find, but when I did they were always my favorites. As were my Captain Marvel underoos. I loved Captain Marvel so much, and believed in the idea so strongly, that I asked my brother one day, "Is that real? That if a little kid says SHAZAM they can become Captain Marvel?" My brother told me, "Yes, but only if you believe. You have to believe for it to work."

The next day, I tied a towel around my neck, climbed up on the roof of my friend's house, stood on the peak, then ran along the peak to the edge of the roof. When I got to the edge, I screamed, "SHAZAM!" as loud as I could. I fell like a rock to the ground, bounced twice, ripped a hole in my jeans and got a bloody nose. I thought, "Why didn't that work?" At this point, the world became comic book. A thought bubble appeared above my head. In it, my brother appeared and said, "You have to believe for it to work." So, I climbed up on the roof, tried again, then knocked myself out on the second try.

Now, I'll tell you honestly that to this day, the reason why I think it didn't work is that I just didn't believe enough. Because I know that there's still magic in the world if you look in the right places. I'm eagerly awaiting your most magical comic book and can't wait to read it. Thank you again for creating it. I have a feeling that after I see it, I might be ready to tie that towel around my neck again and look for a roof …


F. Chong Rutherford
Brooklyn, NY

All right! Clearly, the magic word doesn't work, but I'm glad you're excited about the project!


The BONE World Tour continues this weekend in Anguleme, France. If you are attending the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee — the largest comics festival in the world – - come see me!  On Saturday I will be at Espace Franquin doing a panel at 6pm on international Encounters. Earlier, I will be signing from 11 to 1pm. I’ll blog, of course. After Anguleme, I’ll be taking a couple of days off to rest with my family in India. 

Don’t forget, MSoE #1 in two weeks!
Have fun!

Shazam production journal; Gzopb Gzdmb gsv grtvi Grtvi!

Blog entry by Jeff

Talky Tawny is one of those characters that causes people to roll their eyes. A talking tiger? And I admit he was handled pretty goofy in the ‘40s, but Captain Marvel’s powers are more mythological than most – - derived from ancient gods and sages – - so wandering spirits and talking animals don’t feel out of place to me. Gods and talking animals are part of our oldest storytelling traditions. The trick was to build a relationship between Talky and Marvel, connect them to each other, and then throw them into modern day New York City.  R zohl gslftsg rg dlfow svok ru R wivd srn orpv z ivzo grtvi, zm rwvz R krxpvw fk lm uiln Zovc Ilhh!

Below are three stages of making a comic book panel from MSOE #3. Billy and Tawny are in New York’s Central Park.

I use blue pencils because high contrast scanners can’t see that color, and I won’t have to erase the page later after it is inked, which can harm the drawings.

The next step is to ink the word balloons, so I know how much space they will take up. Then I usually go straight for the faces.  The faces are where the acting goes on, so I want this done first while I still have the energy. Later on, as deadlines approach, and time runs short, I know this has been taken care of. You can see that I have changed Billy Batson’s dialog, and added a balloon for Talky Tawny.  Writing continues on into the final stages. Also note the smears – - after all these years, I sill put my hand in the ink…  

After a little white paint to cover the smears, I finish the figures and start on the background. In this scene, Billy and Talky have rendezvoused in Central Park. I visited the park in June to see what kind of rocks and brush were there. Using my reference photos, I draw leaves and vines around their feet.  Gl hvv gsv kslglh R gllp rm Mvd Blip Xrgb gszg wzb, xorxp sviv!

The top image is from MSoE #2.  The penciled Billy & Talky panel is from MSoE #3.

SHAZAM: The Monster Society of Evil #1 ships February 7th (less than 3 weeks!) to a comic shop near you.

And don’t forget to come see me in New York at the end of February.  I’m a guest of Honor at the New York Comic-con. They asked me to write a guest blog, which you can read by going to their website,   Bring your copies of MSoE!

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Shazam production journal: Mary Marvel!

Blog entry by Jeff

The plot of SHAZAM! The Monster Society of Evil revolves around young, homeless Billy Batson’s search for his long, lost sister Mary  – - who, it turns out, can share his powers.

One of the first things I did for this project was fill up sketch pages looking for the best way to draw her.

The image below was originally going to be used for the cover of MSoE #2,and was widely seen in 2003, but it has since been pulled into the service of the story, flopped, re-colored and given word balloons and will be used inside the comic.

Here's Mary on the cover of Captain Marvel no. 19 from the 1940s.


Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1 goes on sale February 7. 

 Next:  A step-by-step first look at the new Talky Tawny…

BONE 5: ROCK JAW in stores now

Blog entry by Jeff

Steve Hamaker received a nice surprise last night – - the new Bone book’s here! He stopped in a local Barnes & Noble and picked up the last copy.  He sent me this picture via his camera phone. Usually we get a box of books ahead of time, but this is the first any of us has seen it.  I’m sure Scholastic saved me one…right?

Also, SHAZAM: Monster Society of Evil #1 ships one month from today – - call your local comic shop and reserve yours now! To find the comic shop nearest you, visit the Comic Shop Locator Service web page, or call 1-888-comic-book.

In a couple of days, I'll put up a new SHAZAM production journal about Mary Marvel…