Jeff Smith (1960–): A Trailblazing Cartoonist Shaping the World of Comics

American cartoonist

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) (1960–)

Jeff Smith, born Jeffry Brown Smith on February 27, 1960, is an American cartoonist, writer, and artist whose creative prowess has left an indelible mark on the world of comics. Best known for his acclaimed comic series “Bone,” Smith’s career has been defined by a commitment to artistic innovation, storytelling excellence, and a deep love for the medium.

Jeff Smith is a master of the art of cartooning, whose contributions have earned him prestigious awards and a special place in the hearts of comic enthusiasts around the globe. From “Bone” to “RASL” and beyond, Jeff Smith’s career is a testament to the enduring power of comics as a form of artistic expression and storytelling.

Name: Jeff Smith 

Full Name: Jeffry Brown Smith 

Born: February 27, 1960 

Age: 63 (as of 2023) 

Nationality: American 

Occupation: Cartoonist, Writer, Artist 

Known For: Creating the comic series “Bone” 

Artistic Style: Cartoon, Adventure, Fantasy 

Notable Works:

  • “Bone” (Comic series)
  • “RASL” (Comic series)
  • Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil” (Comic miniseries) 

Career Highlights:

  • Creation of the critically acclaimed and popular comic series “Bone” from 1991 to 2004.
  • “Bone” received multiple Eisner Awards and played a significant role in the growth of independent comics.
  • Founder of Cartoon Books, an independent comic book publisher.
  • Exploration of various genres and styles in his works, from fantasy to science fiction.
  • He is known for his distinctive, clean, and expressive art style. 


  • Multiple Eisner Awards for “Bone.”
  • Named a Master Cartoonist by the Cartoon Art Museum.
  • Inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. 


Notable Collaborations: 

He collaborated with several other writers and artists on projects outside of “Bone,” showcasing his versatility and collaborative spirit. 

Personal Life:

  • Born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.
  • He graduated from Ohio State University.
  • He is known for his dedication to the craft of comics and his support for independent comic creators. 


  • Jeff Smith’s “Bone” is considered a classic of independent comics and continues to inspire new generations of comic creators.
  • His contributions to the medium have earned him a place among the industry’s most influential and respected cartoonists.
  • Smith’s work is celebrated for its storytelling, character development, and artistry.


Cartoon Books, Columbus, OH, cartoonist and publisher of Bone comic books. Character Builders (animation studio), co-founder, producer, and director.

Awards, Honors

Eight Eisner awards for best humor publication, best continuing series, best writer/artist or cartoonist, and best-serialized story, 1993–95; Genie Award for best continuing series, 1994; four Harvey awards for the best cartoonist, best graphic album, and special award for humor, 1994–95; Prix Vienne (Germany) for best book, 1995; Comic Speedline awards for best newcomer and best graphic novel (Germany), 1995; Alph-Art Award for best comic originally written in a foreign language (France), 1996; award for best comic-book artist, National Cartoonist Society, 1996, 1997.

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) (1960–)


The Complete Bone Adventures, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 1993.

Bone, Volume One: Out from Boneville, Cartoon Books, 1995, colorized version, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

Bone, Volume Two: The Great Cow Race, Cartoon Books, 1996.

Bone, Volume Three: Eyes of the Storm, Cartoon Books, 1996.

Bone Reader, Cartoon Books, 1996.

Bone, Volume Four: The Dragonslayer, Cartoon Books, 1997.

Bone: Volume Five: Roch Jaw Master of the Eastern Border, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 1998.

Bone, Volume Six: Old Man’s Cave, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 1999.

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) Bone

(Illustrator, with Stan Sakai) Tom Sniegoski, Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero [and] Riblet, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2000.

Bone, Volume Seven: Ghost Circles, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2002.

Bone, Volume Eight: Treasure Hunters, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2002.

Bone, Volume Nine: Crown of Horns, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2004.

Bone: One Volume Edition, Cartoon Books (Columbus, OH), 2004.

The “Bone” graphic-novel series has been translated into fifteen languages.

Bone Jeff Smith (Rey Alan)


Cartoonist Jeff Smith is the creator of the popular “Bone” comic series, a fifty-five-issue epic that has also been released in graphic-novel-format in nine volumes and when published in 2004 as Bone: One-Volume Edition was a hefty tome of over 1,300 pages. Winning over a dozen major awards, including several Eisners and Harveys, the series has become, as Steve Ratieri noted in Library Journal, “one of the most widely acclaimed graphic novel series in the United States,” particularly among teen readers.

A fan of comic strips such as “Peanuts,” “Uncle Scrooge” and Walt Kelly’s “Pogo,” as a child, Jeff Smith once admitted to Something about the Author (SATA ) that he wished “that my childhood heroes would go out on an adventure that had actual danger in it … or an adventure that would have consequences that might alter their existence.”

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) artist

He invented the saga’s three main characters when he was in kindergarten: Fone Bone, a fan of Moby Dick; Phoney Bone, who is always plotting something; and Smiley Bone, who adopts a relaxed, “What, Me Worry?” attitude toward life. With the “Bone” saga, which has won its author several awards and been compared to epic works such as Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series and even J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jeff Smith was able to fulfill his wish, albeit over three decades later.

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) Bone

“‘Bone’ is about growing up and leaving home for the first time,” Jeff Smith explained of the series, which he introduced in the comic books collected in 1991’s Out from Boneville. “The story is about what happens when the Bone cousins leave Boneville … this sheltered little world they grew up in and then go out into this wilder, outside world.” In the series, four-fingered cousins Fone, Phoney, and Smiley undertake the classic journey to enlightenment; they find themselves in a secret valley right out of a classic fairy tale.

Spending a year in this new place, the cousins meet up with everything from dragons and talking bugs to vicious Rat Creatures and the evil Hooded One, the last two bent on destruction. Deciding to come to the aid of the goodhearted residents of the valley town of Athena, they join with Gran’ma Ben, the valley kingdom’s queen, and stand with the city against the coming invasion of evil.

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) Bone

Jeff Smith first drafted “Bone” as a serial comic strip for Ohio State University’s student newspaper, the Lantern. Although his work drew the attention of national syndicates, Jeff Smith opted to start his animation studio, Cartoon Books, and produce “Bone” in comic-book format himself. Following Smith’s edition, the series was reissued by Scholastic, Inc., in a colorized version.

Critical response to Jeff Smith’s efforts has been favorable. Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Katharine L. Kan, reviewing Bone, Volume Two: The Great Cow Race, asserted: “This is one for the whole family to enjoy, full of raucous humor, great dialogue, and marvelously twisted plotting.” Reviewing Bone, Volume One: Out from Boneville, Gordon Flagg noted in Booklistthat Smith is “a major talent as skilled as the old masters,” adding: “Such gentle, all-ages humor as Bone’s has all but disappeared; consequently, Jeff Smith’s neo-traditionalist seems fresher than anything else the comics medium offers today.”

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) Bone

In Publishers Weekly a critic attempted to describe the series as a whole, calling “Bone” “something like a Chuck Jones version of The Lord of the Rings; hilarious and action-packed, but rarely losing track of its darker subtext about power and evil.” The “dark, witty, mysterious, and exciting” saga benefits from its creator’s talents, according to Scott la County, who wrote in School Library Journal that the series’ “animation and fresh storyline put Jeff Smith in a league of his own.” Flagg noted that “Ongoing series as beautifully sustained as “Bone” are rare in the comics industry,” while School Library Journal critic Douglas P. Davey dubbed “Bone” “the greatest story Disney never told.”

Jeff Smith (Rey Alan) Bone

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, August 1995, Gordon Flagg, review of Bone, Volume One: Out from Boneville, p. 1922; July 1996; September 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Crown of Thorns; October 15, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Bone: One-Volume Edition, p. 396.

Entertainment Weekly, September 24, 2004, Rachel Lovinger, review of Bone, p. 117.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Treasure Hunters, p. 101; November 1, 2004, Steve Ranieri, review of Bone, p. 67.

Publishers Weekly, March 17, 2003, p. 28; October 18, 2004, Heidi Macdonald, interview with Smith; February 7, 2005, review of Out from Boneville, p. 44.

School Library Journal, October 2003, p. 31; December 2003, Douglas P. Davey, review of Out from Boneville; December 2004, Steve Weiner, “Epic Proportions,” p. 25; May 2005, Scott La Counte, review of Out from Boneville, p. l53.

Time, October 11, 2004, Andrew Arnold, “A Comic That’s Good to the Bone,” p. 103.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Jeff Smith (cartoonist) (1960–)

1. Who is Jeff Smith?

Jeff Smith is an American cartoonist, writer, and artist known for his contributions to the world of comics, particularly for creating the popular comic series “Bone.”

2. What is Jeff Smith best known for?

Jeff Smith is best known for creating the critically acclaimed and popular comic series “Bone.” This series played a significant role in the growth of independent comics and has received numerous awards and accolades.

3. When and where was Jeff Smith born?

Jeff Smith was born on February 27, 1960, in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, USA.

4. What is “Bone,” and why is it significant?

“Bone” is a comic series Jeff Smith created from 1991 to 2004. It is significant for its critical acclaim, popularity, and contribution to the success of independent comics. The series received multiple Eisner Awards and continues to be celebrated as a classic in the medium.

5. What awards has Jeff Smith received for his work?

Jeff Smith has received multiple Eisner Awards for his work on “Bone.” He has also been inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame and named a Master Cartoonist by the Cartoon Art Museum.

6. What are Cartoon Books, and what role does it play in Jeff Smith’s career?

Cartoon Books is an independent comic book publishing company founded by Jeff Smith. It has been instrumental in publishing his works, including “Bone.” It reflects his commitment to independent comics and creators.

7. Has Jeff Smith worked on projects outside of “Bone”?

Yes, Jeff Smith has collaborated with other writers and artists on projects outside of “Bone.” This showcases his versatility and willingness to explore different genres and styles in his work.

8. What influences have shaped Jeff Smith’s work?

Jeff Smith has cited influences such as Walt Kelly, Osamu Tezuka, and Carl Barks as inspirations for his work. These influences have contributed to the development of his distinctive artistic style.

9. What is Jeff Smith’s personal background and educational history?

Jeff Smith graduated from Ohio State University. He was born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and is known for his dedication to the craft of comics.

10. What is Jeff Smith’s legacy in the world of comics?

Jeff Smith’s legacy in comics is characterized by his significant impact on independent comics, storytelling, character development, and artistry. His creation, “Bone,” continues to inspire and entertain readers of all ages, and he is celebrated as one of the industry’s most influential and respected cartoonists.

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