The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, BONE, and the Changing Face of Comics. (2009). Mills James Productions. ASIN: B002MFF1UU.

Plot Summary

The Cartoonist explores the real life world of Jeff Smith, who was responsible for bringing the cartoon world of Bone to life. Anyone who has ever wondered just what inspired Smith and just how he managed to finish and self-publish his 9 volume epic all on his own, can find their answer here.
Aside from the interesting interviews with Jeff Smith, are those of Scott McCloud, Colleen Doran, Paul Pope, Terry Moore, and Harvey Pekar, as well as others.
So many influences of Smith’s can be seen in the video, from his wife and her dutiful work publishing and distributing Bone from home, to the beautiful forest where Smith gained his inspiration for the forests outside of Boneville. The cinematic quality of the series is somewhat explained by Smith’s stint as a serious commercial animation artist, though he quickly went on to focusing his talents in his comics. We all know the end to the story which is that Bone became a huge phenomenon, but as they say, the joy is in the journey, and sometimes with a lot of elbow grease, dreams do come true.

Critical Evaluation

The word inspiring doesn’t seem to cut it as a description for this film. Yet this is the undeniable feeling even non-artists (myself included) have after viewing the film. Jeff Smith is many young artist’s hero, and after watching him in this film, it is clear that he deserves the title.

Included is the discussion of Bone’s place in comic book and animation history, which makes this glimpse into the creation of that masterpiece feel even more rare and special.

This film is recommended for any and every Bone fan, but especially if they are aspiring artists themselves.
Reader’s Annotation

Fans have long awaited the ending of the Bone series, the companion stories, and the prequel. Now that Smith has finally completed the stories of the Bone universe, luckily there is a film which details its genesis, development, and success: The Cartoonist.

About the Filmmaker

The film’s emmy-award-winning director, Ken Mills, has always loved a good story.
He has worked in television news, documentaries, radio, nature films, commercials, infomercials, public television pledge specials, a weekly public television series and more.

He was attracted to Jeff Smith’s story because he always thought that Smith was an interesting fellow, and that his story would be an inspiration to others



Curriculum Ties



Programming Ideas
-Screen The Cartoonist for teens interested in comic books, graphic novels, writing or drawing, and hold a draw-a-thon! Create zines, comic books, and other art, and encourage teens to share their work with others.

Reading Level/Interest Age

Ages 12+

Challenge Issues


Why Did You Include This DVD?

Bone is now concluded, but its influence is still far-reaching. Many fans who are seriously considering becoming artists, or who simply want to know more about Jeff Smith, will be so happy to find this interesting film, which now explores a huge event in comic book history: the publication and subsequent success of Bone.


About thesuperlibrarian

High School Librarian and obsessive reader! On a mission to read as many SUPER YA books as possible!
This entry was posted in Animation, DVD, Nonfiction. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, BONE, and the Changing Face of Comics. (2009). Mills James Productions. ASIN: B002MFF1UU.

  1. Pingback: B o n e v i l l e » Happy New Year! Now get back to work!

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