Jeff Smith: Before Bone


May 1, 2008 - September 5, 2008


Reading Room Gallery
27 W. 17th Avenue Mall
Columbus Ohio

Jeff Smith brought a much more polished feature to the campus newspaper than most student cartoonists. From its inception, Thorn, the title of Smith’s OSU Lantern strip which was named after its female protagonist, exhibited an unusual level of sophistication. The strip demonstrated very capable manipulation of layout and design coupled with time-honored comic strip narrative techniques. It is interesting to note that by his early twenties, Smith clearly grasped the power of epic narrative, even though the storyline of Thorn, while sophisticated and entertaining, was not linear. The vantage point of a quarter century and the phenomenal international success of Bone make us see Jeff Smith’s college cartoons in a different perspective than we did when they first ran in The Lantern.  At Ohio State University, the student newspaper describes itself as a “laboratory newspaper,” and it served that purpose very successfully for Smith. He used Thorn both to hone his artistic skills and to experiment with several types of storytelling. From a sketchbook page to finished comic strips, this exhibition celebrates the education of a young man.

A signed and numbered catalog limited to 500 copies is available. It reprints all of the Thorn comic strips in this exhibit and has an introduction by Jeff Smith, a foreword by his colleague Jim Kammerud and an essay by Lucy Shelton Caswell. The volume is available from the library for $25 per copy. All proceeds from the sale of this catalog will benefit the Cartoon Research Library. SOLD OUT!