Jeff Smith is back and going big – today he announced that he will be mounting a Kickstarter campaign to publish two graphic novels in his most recent series, Tuki, which he and his company Cartoon Books will launch on May 5. And in a landscape format, no less.
Tuki is set at the dawn of mankind, 2 million years ago, with our eponymous hero Tuki trying to survive in a world of rival tribes, competing human species, monstrous creatures and the unknown.
If Tuki sounds familiar, that’s because Smith originally announced it waaaaay back in 2013. It was begun as a free webcomic, with a collected floppy release occurring in installments. It was delayed – more significantly for health reasons – and then things kind of stopped. Four print comics were released but then…nothing.
Thankfully it wasn’t dead.
As Smith recounted in an interview with IGN:
“I started to play around with Tuki before COVID hit but once the lockdown happened, I decided to dive in and focus on straightening out the story. I ended up with enough material for two books!”
It was also during the pandemic that Smith, along with his publisher (Smith’s wife and El Presidente of the Cartoon Books operation) Vijaya Iyer, got on to Kickstarter as a vehicle to bring the refreshed iteration of Tuki to readers.
“It was friends from the old self-publishing days, the Tucci’s and the Pulido’s, who turned my wife Vijaya on to Kickstarter and persuaded us to give it a go. If all goes well, this could be the beginning of a new series!”
Smith’s aim with the Kickstarter is to be able to print and release the first volume of the new Tuki in July to celebrate the official birth of his self-published professional cartoonist career:
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of BONE #1 which Vijaya and I released in July of 1991 through our imprint Cartoon Books. More recently, I self-published my science-fiction noir story Rasl from 2008 to 2013. Both Bone and Rasl are still in print and going strong. And now, to mark the birthday of BONE and Cartoon Books, we are announcing my next creator owned projects – Tuki: Fight for Fire and TUKI: Fight for Family!
If we reach our goal, Tuki: Fight for Fire will be released this July, 30 years to the month of Bone #1, to be followed in October by the second volume TUKI: Fight for Family. Both books are part of this campaign.”
And if you are worried about whether Smith will manage to finish it this time: don’t worry. According to the press release, the first volume is finished and the second volume is “95% finished with only the final two chapters to be inked”. Both volumes will come to approximately 144 pages of story content apiece.
Assuming the Kickstarter makes its funding goal, the first book Tuki: Fight for Fire will be released in July 2021 and the second book Tuki: Fight for Family would be expected to ship in October 2021.
Jeff Smith is best known for his self-published multi-award winning opus Bone – which he began in 1991 with Iyer serving as manager, editor and publisher of their company Cartoon Books (so Jeff could – and still does – focus on the cartooning). It ran for 55 black and white issues, which were periodically collected as softcovers, until 2004. Scholastic Books picked up the rights to do color editions of the collections for their then-new children’s graphic novel imprint Graphix – which were published between 2005 and 2009. The color editions of Bone brought the series to new audiences, beloved worldwide. It is also currently in the works as an animated series for Netflix.
Smith followed up Bone with a relatively shorter sci-fi crime-caper series called Rasl, that ran in a similar fashion as Bone (in black and white, published in floppy format) for 15 issues between 2008 and 2012 — and in case you think Smith and Iyer don’t have enough to do, they helped found and run the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival which has run annually in Smith’s hometown since 2015, and for which he serves as Creative Director.
The Kickstarter will be for both volumes of Tuki and may come with some interesting surprise bonuses. We at The Beat look forward to it when it launches on May 4, 2021. And – in case you missed it – the link for the soon to launch campaign is here.