JEFF SMITH knows what it’s like to have someone try to ban your book.
Smith, of course, is the acclaimed creator of “Bone,” the highly popular fantasy-adventure comic epic that — thanks largely to the
Scholastic imprint — has found its way to millions of young readers. School librarians across the country have embraced it. Yet still, the balky holdouts occasionally remain.
“A school in Minnesota wanted to ban it,” Smith tells Comic Riffs this week. “It was because [it depicts] cigars and beer...when it takes place in a medieval town. And my main characters...don’t even partake.”
It is because of such experiences — as well as his own deep appreciation of comics’ sometimes-embattled history — that Smith is a perfect candidate to join the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
The CBLDF, which fights for the rights of comics creators and consumers, announced this week that Smith has joined its board of directors.
“It’s always been a really important organization,” Smith tells us, “that has to protect the people who create comics and those who distribute them and those who read them.”
Now in his 50s, Smith says he can remember the era when comic shops would get raided and “authorities were kind of [cracking] down,” even
though the comics “that were not appropriate for kids were kept behind the counter.” So much of comics distribution may have migrated from head shops to hobby shops to digital stores over the decades, but legal challenges remain a constant.
Smith, who has long donated art to the CBLDF, also has the rock-star profile in the cartooning world to help be an effective fundraiser. A sign of his popularity: At Small Press Expo last month, just feet from Charles Brownstein’s Legal Defense Fund booth, Smith was selling books by the boxload and the lineup of fans snaked through the hotel walkways. (Smith’s newly bound collection of “RASL” just hit No. 7 on the New York Times’ bestseller lists.)
Smith immediately joins the CBLDF’s “Be Counted” membership drive.
As for his board duties, Smith tells ‘Riffs: “I’m still the new guy. As a case comes up. I’ve got to get up to speed.”