Works by German Village resident and comic book artist Jeff Smith are expected to draw people to the Wexner Center of the Arts this summer.

Works by German Village resident and comic book artist Jeff Smith are expected to draw people to the Wexner Center of the Arts this summer.

Next week, the Wexner Center, in partnership with Ohio State's Cartoon Research Library, will open Jeff Smith: Bone and Beyond. The exhibition will include 80 original drawings - mostly black-and-white pages - from Smith's award-winning "Bone."

The exhibit, which runs May 10 trhough Aug. 3, will also showcase a smaller selection of post-"Bone" pieces and works from artists Smith holds as influences. Among them will be Walt Kelly's "Pogo," Will Eisner's "The Spirit" and Charles Schulz' "Peanuts."

A related exhibit - Jeff Smith: Before Bone - will be on view at the Cartoon Research Library starting today. It will run through Sept. 5.

An on-and-off resident of German Village for 30 years, Smith is best known for his 1,400-page comic book epic "Bone," which has been described as one of the 10 best graphic novels of all time. The series follows the Bone cousins after they are driven from their hometown and swept up in an epic "Lord of the Rings" adventure.

Reached at his office earlier this week, Smith elaborated on the future of "Bone," his latest work and the state of the independent press.

Currently, "Bone," originally black and white independent releases, is being reproduced by Scholastic in full color. Seven of the series' nine books have been reproduced.

Smith, 42, said he undertook the decision to go to color at the urging of comic guru Art Spiegelman.

"He just thought that since 'Bone' was so fantasy-oriented, it would be a lot better in color," Smith said.

He was eventually won over.

"I really think the color is going to be the definite volume, though my heart belongs to the black-and-white edition," Smith said.

The battle for "Bone" to reach the big screen has been widely documented. An original offer by Nickelodeon fell through over a musical number.

Still, fans of the series will be relieved to know that Smith is in the opening stages of working with Warner Bros.

With a film being discussed, it begs the question of traditional animation or computers.

"I lean toward 2D myself, but I know big studios are excited about the other," Smith said, adding that he would pick whatever style looked best.

In March, Smith released the first issues of "Rasl," which quickly sold out. The second issue comes out this month.

The series, also black and white, which he described as "Blade Runner" meets Jason Bourne, follows a dimension-hopping art thief.

Smith said the idea for the main charter stems from Phoney Bone, a selfish loudmouth in the "Bone" series, and his own love of science, both real and junk.

"I think he was a lot of people's favorite character," Smith said of Phoney Bone. "I thought wouldn't it be fun to write a book where the main character was greedy like that."

He said he made a conscious decision to draw the series in black and white.

"I'm trying to look at film noir and recapture the claustrophobic sense," he said.

No stranger to the independent press, Smith said the Internet is the next medium for comic books artists.

"There is no question that the web is the current place for the do-it-yourself publisher," Smith said.

He said that in the future, he may work on web comics, but he still feels the urge to stick with his roots.

"I'm still clinging to the tactile sensation of pushing black ink around on a big piece of white paper," he said.