Netflix has secured the rights to Jeff Smith’s Bone, the whimsical fantasy epic that’s widely viewed as one of the Holy Grail properties among unadapted comic book classics. Netflix will develop the Bone shelf of international bestsellers as an animated kids series.
The writer, artist, and creator of Bone had an animated reaction to the Netflix acquisition and its ambitions.
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“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Smith said. “Netflix is the perfect home for Bone. Fans of the books know that the story develops chapter-by-chapter and book-by-book. An animated series is exactly the way to do this! The team at Netflix understands Bone and is committed to doing something special — this is good news for kids and cartoon lovers all over the world.”
Left unsaid by Smith is the decade that the property spent on the Warner Bros lot. Starting in 2008, multiple Warner attempts to adapt the saga to a feature film failed to gain traction. Then, in 2016, Warner Bros announced that Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda, The Little Prince) was on board to co-write and direct the first installment of a Bone franchise. When that endeavor also fell short the stage was set for Netflix and a new approach.
The story follows the Bone cousins — the intrepid Fone Bone, the scheming Phoney Bone, and the affable Smiley Bone — on their adventures through a vast, uncharted desert that gives way to a mysterious valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. The trio look like they might be made of marshmallow, while their adventures draw on high-pedigree influences: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Jiminy Cricket, Walt Kelly’s Pogo, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, and Carl Barks’ sublime Disney work with Donald Duck and his relatives.
Bone, which claimed a spot on Time Magazine’s “10 best graphic novels of all-time” list, was originally published from 1991 to 2004 in 55 comic book issues on a varying release schedule. In 2005, the fantasy epic became the vanguard of a new front in young-reader publishing when Scholastic selected Smith’s opus as the launch title for Graphix Books, a graphic novel imprint that paved the way for an entirely new and competitive sector in the marketplace.
Over the next five years, Scholastic recolored and reprinted Smith’s magnum opus as nine graphic novels that sold 8 million copies in North America alone and brought the Bone Cousins’s escapades to young readers in 30 countries. The series piled up more than 40 national and international publishing awards, among them the Eisner Award, the Harvey Award, and The French Alph Art.
Smith, a native of Pennsylvania, is now working on TUKI: 2 Million BCE. His other credits include Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, Little Mouse Gets Ready! and RASL.