Monthly Archives: April 2010

Review Committee votes 10 to 1 not to ban BONE

Blog entry by Jeff

On April  15, just as we were getting ready to leave for Chicago and the C2E2 convention, the mother of an elementary school boy officially petitioned to have the BONE series banned from all the schools in the district. I learned about it from an article in the Sun Newspapers Minnesota Local News.

Yesterday, a review committee met and heard both sides of the case. At the conclusion of the hearing, a letter I sent was read aloud. The committee then voted 10 to 1 against the ban.

The decision could be appealed, of course, but this was a very decisive statement by the review board.

Whew. I am obviously relieved and happy with this conclusion!

If you want to follow the story in more detail, here are some more links:

The Comics Reporter, Minnesota Parent Objects to Bone’s Drinking, Smoking, Gambling, Sexiness; Review of Work Scheduled

Thisweek Newspapers, Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith not age appropriate for ISD 196 elementary students, mom says.

Robot 6, Jeff Smith Responds to Bone Ban

Local TV news KSTP Minneapolis and St. Paul, Parent wants graphic novels pulled from schools

Publishers Weekly, Jeff Smith Responds to Bone School Library Challenge

The Pioneer Press TwinCities.com, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Egan panel votes not to ban elementary school book series

The contents of the letter I sent to the review committee follows:

To Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to make a statement in light of this most serious situation.

The complaint against BONE, as I understand it from news reports, concerns the depiction of gambling, alcohol and tobacco use, and “sexual situations between characters.”

First, let me say BONE is a book about courage, conviction, and loyalty. The setting is a medieval town and the tavern is a realistic meeting place for the locals. The two main protagonists, Fone Bone and Thorn do not partake in any activities at the tavern other than meals. At no time in the entire series is anyone rewarded for bad behavior.

The main troublemaker, Phoney Bone does try to win bets, and he cheats, but his plans always, ALWAYS backfire. His moneymaking schemes make him look like a greedy loser. That’s the point of the whole series:  selfish, immoral behavior is wrong.

Beer and gambling are depicted in BONE, but only as props or as story devices (even Smiley Bones stogie is little more than a Vaudeville/Groucho character prop). These things play a very small role in the overall BONE story. I will also point out that beer and gambling can be seen in many Bugs Bunny cartoons, Disney movies, and just about anywhere you look. The trick is portraying them correctly.  These characters are the bad ones, and kids know the difference. Phoney and Smiley scheme and gamble and get their comeuppance.  The story’s heroes do not participate in any of these behaviors.

As far as “sexual situations between characters” are concerned, I know of none.Nor was it ever my intention for there to be any. The main character Fone Bone has a crush on the young woman Thorn, but its innocent, and certainly goes no further than holding hands.

Many, many children have learned to love reading because of BONE.  I know this from meeting and talking to kids and their parents, teachers, and librarians at hundreds of book signings and school visits. I suspect that there are members of the review committee who can attest to this. Since the mid 90s, millions of parents all over the world have read BONE with their children. This is the first time I have ever heard it suggested that it was age inappropriate. It is hard to imagine that any bad behavior could be seen to be encouraged in these stories. Frankly, I believe it is just the opposite.

Sincerely,

Jeff Smith

c2e2!

Blog entry by Jeff

Well we’re all back from Chicago, and we had a great time. Everyone was in a good mood, and I met a lot of new readers, and saw some readers who got drawings from me 16 years ago when I used to hit the windy city on a regular basis. I love Mid-Westerners!

It was a little slow on Friday, but we were slammed on Saturday and Sunday.

I enjoyed my Spotlight panel on Saturday where I had a great audience! There’s a good write up at Comic Book Resources. A accompanying interview can be found here.

I did a bunch of interviews, like the one above with Newsarama.

Rich Johnson at Bleeding Cool has audio of my Sunday panel with Mark Waid. Over at Robot 6 you can find a nice overview of the show.

And then we were attacked by a giant Tie Fighter!

See you in Chicago; also more news that parallel universes are – -gulp – - real!

Blog entry by Jeff

RASL 2: The Fire of St. George ships to comic book stores today, and I’m packing my bags for C2E2 this weekend. The staff at Cartoon Books is on the way over to the house to have a final scheduling meeting. It’s exciting! I haven’t been to a comic convention in Chicago in 10 years, and I can’t wait to see everyone at the show! On Saturday, I have a spotlight panel at 1:45 in room E353. Should be fun, it will include a reading as well as a look at some of the new BONE: Tall Tales stories. Then I run over to room #E271A to introduce the BONE documentary The Cartoonist at 3:00. After that, I’ll be at the Cartoon Books booth (#550) for most of the rest of the day. I’m on an Indie comics panel on Sunday at 1:15 in room #E450. Stop by! We have some fun new things at this show, including a special BONE pin, and the new RASL book collection hot off the press, The Fire of St. George (we’ll also have the first book, RASL: The Drift, of course)!

Speaking of RASL, the parallel universe science I based it on is cutting edge, but I was surprised that there was a new study released that seems to prove the existance of parallel universes!

From the news article: “The strange discovery by quantum physicists at the University of California Santa Barbara means that an object you can see in front of you may exist simultaneously in a parallel universe…”

We posted  a different study last week that ran on National Geographic’s site suggesting the same thing:

“…researchers made the controversial suggestion that the clusters are being tugged on by the gravity of matter outside the known universe. “which in turn hints that our universe is part of something larger: a multiverse.”

Crazy! You read it here first!

Update 4/15/10: The Chicago Tribune is running a profile/Q&A with me as part of its coverage of the C2E2 convention.

Come by the booth this weekend, say hi, and get your RASL on!

Little Mouse nominated for 2010 Ohioana Book Award

Blog entry by Tom

Happy Tuesday everyone! Tom again.

Linda R. Hengst, Executive Director of the Ohioana Library Association sent this great news to us last week.

She writes, “It is my pleasure to notify you that Jeff’s, Little Mouse Gets Ready, is a finalist for the 2010 Ohioana Book Award in the category of juvenile literature”.

Tom Snig dishes on Bone: Tall Tales

Blog entry by Jeff

BONE: Tall Tales ships today.  Tall Tales is just what it sounds like, Smiley Bone telling Boneville tall tales to three Bone Scouts named Ringo, Bingo, and Todd.  It has new stories, and a couple of older ones that have never been published in glorious Steve Hamaker color. We had a few copies with us in San Diego at Comic-Con, and it seemed like everybody loved them. Below is a picture of the signing Tom & I had on Friday morning – - it was slammed!

Here’s a link to a CBR interview with Tom Sniegowski that was posted last night. It’s a fun interview that had me laughing.  It sheds light on a lot of our working habits – - even to me!

The cover for RASL #8 revealed

Blog entry by Jeff

As mentioned in the letters page of RASL #7, I have to draw the covers many months in advance in order to appear in the Diamond Preview catalog. Most of the time, I know what to put on the cover, since the plots are pretty much sketched out. But when it came time for the cover of #8, I wasn’t quite sure how far into the story I’d be; so I put out  a generic cover of Rasl exchanging punches with Sal as a place holder.

Now the real cover image is ready, and it features the spooky little girl who turns up around Rasl without warning (the pencils are below).

The little girl has generated a lot of mail from readers and in RASL #8 she begins to take on a larger role in Rob’s life