They shared a booth for Comic-Con International, and last Thursday afternoon Terry Moore and Jeff Smith shared a panel – “Cartoon Books & Abstract Studios Happy Hour.”
Smith and Moore, who talk to each other on the phone frequently while working on their respective projects, discussed several recent announcements – including the “Echo” film and the new “Bone” projects Smith is doing with writer Tom Sniegoski .
“Echo” Goes to the Movies
As reported previously, Moore sold the rights for an “Echo” film to Lloyd Levin, the producer of “Watchmen.”
“It’s not a film option, because that’s where someone gives you $10 and puts it in the drawer for two years,” Moore said. “It’s a film deal, which means he paid way too much for it, so he has to make it.”
Moore said his next goal is to get “Strangers in Paradise” on television, because “that’s a TV show.”
“What was exciting for me about seeing ‘Echo’ in ‘Variety’ was that it was the top story on the front page of ‘Variety,’” Smith said. “It had a cover of ‘Echo,’ the trade paperback, and it was a story about Comic-Con that was about a comic book.”
The Return of “Bone”
Speaking of comic books, the crowd was delighted when Smith said he was creating new “Bone” projects with writer Tom Sniegoski. Scholastic will publish “Bone: Tall Tales” in the summer of 2010. “Tall Tales” will include several different stories with framing sequences featuring Smiley Bone and Bartleby as scout leaders in Boneville. They take three younger bones – Ringo, Bingo and Todd -- on a camping expedition. The four stories in the book will be the stories Smiley tells the kids around the campfire.
“Tall Tales” will also collect an out-of-print story Smith created for “Disney Adventures” that was never included in any of the previous “Bone” books. “Tall Tales” will include a colorized version of the “Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero” miniseries, which appeared in black and white back in 1999.
In addition, “Tall Tales” will include two new Big Johnson Bone stories. One will involve Baby Johnson Bone taking on Old Man Winter, while the other features a teenaged Big Johnson Bone falling in love with a cobbler-gobbling champion. Both are written by and drawn by Smith, who also writes and draws the framing sequence with Smiley, Bartleby and the scouts.
Sniegoski and Smith are also teaming up for three new prose novels set in the “Bone” world. “Bone: Quest for the Spark” is a trilogy of novels written by Sniegoski featuring artwork by Smith. While many of the characters are new, it will feature appearances by the Two Stupid Rat Creatures, a grown up Roderick the raccoon and other Bone characters. The first volume is due in 2011.
“It’s going be the story of two little kids and this professor who want to go find the valley that the other Bones came back and told them about, and they end up there,” Smith said. He added he’s been reading the first book at night and keeps waking up his wife because he’s laughing so much.
“Echo” and “RASL
Smith and Moore also showed artwork and upcoming covers for their two respective comic book projects, “RASL” and “Echo.” Smith pointed out that both books are science fiction projects that take place in the desert of the Southwest United States. “What’s really strange about that to me is that Terry and I talk to each other on the phone a lot when we’re working,” Smith said. Both face deadlines and will call each other to help stay awake late at night.
“But we never really talked about what our next projects were,” Smith added. “I shocked when I saw Terry had copied my idea!”
Smith and Moore share many of the same interests, including “physics, how the world turns, and how we can mess with that.” “I just wanted to do a sci fi story, and I guess Jeff felt the same way,” Moore said.
Smith added that he likes to read about “M” theory, physicists who say that the math insists alternate universes exist, and Einstein’s unified field theory. “I love that kind of stuff.”
Smith said he first had the idea for “RASL” back in the late 1990s. He wanted to create a story about “a guy jumping to parallel dimension to warn the world about religious terrorists blowing up buildings.” After 9/11, Smith felt that wasn’t a good idea, so he focused on “Shazam!” for DC Comics as a new story began percolating in his mind. In addition to his hard science interests, “RASL” is also influenced by film noir and the hardboiled characters of writers like Raymond Chandler.
Jeff Smith said he plans for “RASL” to be about 350-400 pages, and will collect it in a “chunky” volume at the end.
Terry Moore said he plans for “Echo” to run about 30 issues. “I swore I’d never do a long, rambling story again,” he said, referencing “Strangers in Paradise,” which has been collected into two 1100-page books. An Omnibus edition was available at the con, which featured both books and a third hardcover that collected all the original covers. It came in a slipcase and, as a Comic-Con exclusive, a tote bag to make it easier to carry.