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Jeff Smith, Thorn, and The Secret Origin of Bone

The cartoonist explains his new Kickstarter and how it will help us better understand his bestselling Bone saga.

Jeff Smith Bone Thorn

At five years old, Jeff Smith brought Fone Bone to life. Immediately enthralled by the characters of Walt Kelly, Charles M. Schulz, Walt Disney, and others, the kid desperately sought to contribute his own creation. While most abandon their childhood ideas, Smith carried Fone Bone into his teenage years, college life, and adulthood. Why?


The question rests at the core of this week's episode. We chat with Jeff Smith about his nearly lifelong relationship with Fone Bone and how it evolved from a cartooning challenge into an elaborate comic strip for his college paper and then radically expanded into the bestselling Bone saga. Even after concluding that twelve-year journey, Smith can't shake Fone Bone and his cousins.

Scholastic's Graphix recently published Bone: More Tall Tales, an anthology jammed with Smith's peers (Tom Sniegoski, Stan Sakai, Katie Cook, Matt Smith, and Scott Brown), all giving their spin on the Bone universe. Especially noteworthy, Jeff Smith and Cartoon Books have launched a new Kickstarter, gathering the early stories that would ultimately shape Bone - Thorn: The Complete Proto-Bone College Strips from 1982 to 1986 and Other Early Drawings.


Whatever glimpses we've previously seen of these Proto-Bone strips were brief and relatively limited. Having the chance to read them offers tremendous insight into our Bone obsession and into the artist that birthed it. Here is a Rosetta Stone of sorts.

Jeff Smith Bone Thorn Strips 1
Image Credit © 2023 Cartoon Books

Some cartoonists might shiver at the thought of their readers encountering such early attempts, but Jeff Smith embraces the opportunity. As some might be aware, he recently suffered a debilitating heart attack. He's in a reflective state, and Smith looks upon his early work with a new perspective and consideration. And he's more than happy to share it with us.


The new Thorn Kickstarter is an essential read for fans of Bone, and we believe this conversation with Jeff Smith is equally so. Join us as we travel back to the early days when a kid found himself in a cartoon and dragged that doodle through adolescence and into the various weird stages adulthood also offers.

Jeff Smith Bone Thorn Book Cover
Image Credit © 2023 Cartoon Books

Where to Find Jeff Smith, Bone, and Thorn

As always, Omnibus, the Digital Comic Store and Reader, sponsors our Referrals segment. This week, we selected two comic book titles on the app that satisfy this episode's themes. We won't spoil what they are here, but if you click the links below, you'll be immediately escorted to the books.

Keep up to date on all things Jeff Smith by visiting his Website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Find the Thorn: The Complete Proto-Bone College Strips from 1982 to 1986 and Other Early Drawings on Kickstarter.

Listen to our previous Jeff Smith conversation, discussing Tuki: Fight for Fire and Tuki: Fight for Family.


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