Netflix announced this morning that it has secured rights to the independent fantasy comic book series, Bone, with plans to develop an animated kids series.
“I’ve waited a long time for this,” said Bone creator Jeff Smith. “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.”
Bone, originally serialized in 55 issues from 1991 to 2004, tells the story of the three Bone cousins who end up in a fantastic valley that they must set free from the Lord of the Locusts. Smith, an animator himself who co-founded the Ohio studio Character Builders, was influenced in the creation of Bone by his appreciation of classic cartoonists and comic book artists like Carl Barks, Walt Kelly, and George Herriman.
Dating back to the nineties, various studios have attempted to translate Bone into animation. Nickelodeon was among the earliest companies to become involved, and wanted to create a Bone animated feature. The deal fell apart over a differing creative vision between the studio and creator. Smith recounted in an interview how Nickelodeon tried to change the tone of the film by suggesting the addition of pop songs by Britney Spears and Nsync:
Nickelodeon tried to turn "Bone" into an animated feature in the 1990s, but the deal fell apart when creator Jeff Smith refused to add pop songs by Britney Spears and NSYNC. He explains what happened below: pic.twitter.com/xQ4ZNzB029
— cartoonbrew.com (@cartoonbrew) October 17, 2019
Most recently, a trilogy of films was being developed by Mark Osborne for Warner Bros. Smith has previously stated a preference for a hand-drawn version of Bone rather than a cg translation, and with the project being set up as a series at Netflix, that seems like a distinct possibility now. (Update: Smith has confirmed on Twitter that the series will be made in 2d.)
Bone became a mainstream hit after its publication ended, when Scholastic selected it as the launch title for its kids-and-teens graphic novel imprint, Graphix. Since then, the comic has sold over 8 million copies in North America alone, and has now been translated into 30 languages worldwide.