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Comic books remain popular

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An interview with Boneville creator Jeff Smith

PORTLAND - Getting kids to open a book is harder these days in the age of technology in which we find ourselves in, and so parents should get excited whenever their children become interested in reading no matter what is may be. This even goes for comic books, which for the longest time weren't seen as proper reading by educators. 

Jump ahead to the present and comic books are now a norm in our culture, as proven by the success of Marvel and DC in the jump from pages to the big screen. One of the other success stories comes from comic and graphic novel writer Jeff Smith, who is well known for his acclaimed children's series 'Bone.' This past Sunday, Smith was a special guest at this year's Maine Comic Arts Festival, and before then was able to give insight into his career as a writer and making it in such a competitive industry.

Jeff Smith grew up in Canton, Ohio and has always enjoyed reading comics as a young child. He would always make sure to view the Sunday newspaper comics, with Charles Schulz and the 'Peanuts' series being a huge inspiration. As he got into high school, Smith read stories from Europe and got the idea of mixing to together those imaginative grownup fantasy characters with American cartoon characters everyone was well aware of.

'This was pretty much the genesis of my series Bone,'' remarks Smith. 'I took these three fingered, big-nosed big-foot American cartoon characters and threw them into this big imaginative fantasy world.'

'Bone' originates from a comic strip called 'Thorn' that Smith wrote for the Ohio State University campus newspaper during his time on college, with the woman character in 'Bone' having the titled name. The popular series as Smith describes is about three modern cartoon cousins who get lost in a pre-technological valley, spending a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. This was originally written in 55 issues from 1991 through 2004 before being signed on to be released as a volume of books by Scholastic.

Attending the Maine Comic Arts Festival was a pleasure for Smith, as he hadn't been to the state in a long time and looked forward to having some lobster. What makes these events so great for him is a chance to meet with his fans and give career advice to young aspiring writers. He says the best advice for writers is to keep practicing at your craft and to get your name out as much as possible.

'You need to get as good at it as you can by reading the comics and books you like and figure out what makes them morph. You must really try to bring your A game, as if you can do that then people will notice.'

Smith continues to write comics with his series 'RASL' and an upcoming webcomic series called 'Tki: Save the Humans.' Fans will be treated to a collection of his graphic novel series 'RASL' in a hardcover release later in the year and can keep up on all of his latest work by visiting the website www.boneville.com.

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