10 Things You Didn’t Know about Cartoonist Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is an American cartoonist of some renown. Primarily, he is famous for the comic book series called Bone. However, it is important to note that he has worked on other series as well, which include some in very recent times. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Jeff Smith:

1. Born in McKees Rocks, PA

Smith was born in a borough called McKees Rock, which can be found in the state of Pennsylvania. Once upon a time, the borough was famous for its involvement in the iron and steel industries, which existed alongside manufacturers that produced products such as lumber, plaster, and enamel ware. Nowadays, the changed nature of US manufacturing means that this is no longer true.

2. Grew Up in Columbus, OH

With that said, it is important to note that Smith grew up in Columbus, OH. Of course, this would be the state capital that serves as the beating heart of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which sprawls over ten counties.

3. Loved Peanuts

One of Smith’s chief sources of inspiration as a cartoonist is the comic strip Peanuts. In fact he liked it so much as a child that his father would read it to him every Sunday, which eventually convinced him to learn how to read.

4. Loved Scrooge McDuck

Speaking of which, Smith was also inspired by Carl Barks, who was the one who created the character of Scrooge McDuck for Disney. In short, Scrooge McDuck was named for Ebeneezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol fame, so it should come as no surprise to learn that he started out as something of an antiheroic miser. However, the character softened over time into someone much more likable, which was helped by the fact that he wasn’t just a capitalist but an “adventure-capitalist.”

5. Smith Wanted a Longer Scrooge McDuck Adventure

It is interesting to note that what Smith wanted was a longer Scrooge McDuck adventure. To be exact, he wanted something that could maintain the same standards while being as long as either War and Peace or The Odyssey, which is a sentiment that had a profound impact on his own comic book series Bone.

6. His Favorite Book Is Moby Dick

Book-wise, Smith’s favorite work is Moby Dick, which is a novel centered on an obsessive whaler captain’s hunt for the titular white whale that took his leg on a previous hunt. Partly, Smith liked the novel because of its symbolism, and partly, he liked it because of its multi-layered narrative. Regardless, Smith’s love of Moby Dick is the reason that references abound in Bone.

7. Liked Huckleberry Finn

Besides Moby Dick, Smith was also fond of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. In fact, Huckleberry Finn’s storytelling influenced Smith’s own storytelling, which starts out simple before becoming a bit darker as well as a bit more sophisticated over the course of the narrative.

8. Decided to Produce Bone Because of a Number of Influential Comics

Smith made the choice to start producing Bone because a number of influential comics convinced him that a serious comic book with a start, a middle, and a finish was viable. One was Art Spiegelman’s Maus, while two others were Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

9. Has Worked on Mainstream Superhero Comics

It is interesting to note that Smith has worked on mainstream superhero comics over the course of his career. For instance, he worked for DC Comics in the early 2000s to produce a mini-series for Captain Marvel, who some people might be more familiar with under the current name of Shazam because that is what DC Comics renamed the character to in the relaunch that happened in 2011.

10. Has Worked on Comics for Very Young Children

In September of 2009, Smith released a comic book called Little Mouse Gets Ready, which was centered on a character that he created when he was a child. Said comic was meant for very young children who fall under the category of “emerging readers,” which would explain why it was released through Art Spiegelman and art editor Françoise Mouly’s children’s book line called Toon Books.


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