Jeff Smith's Bone Set For The Screen

It's LOTR meets The Marx Brothers!

Sherlock Holmes producer Dan Lin has been talking to Collider, as the Baker Street detective gears up for his Boxing Day unleashing. And while several future projects come up for discussion (the live-action / animation Tom and Jerry origin story among them), what's especially caught our attention is word that Jeff Smith's cult comic Bone is well into development.

The strange and wonderful graphic series involves Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoney Bone, smooth white creatures exiled from the never-shown Boneville after Phoney's hapless mayoral campaign. Hounded by locusts and rats across the medieval fantasy land of The Valley, they're eventually sucked into a world-saving hero quest against a Dark Lord. And if that synopsis sounds a bit meh, take our word that it does nothing like justice to the impressively sophisticated 1300 page epic, published between 1991 and 2004, which starts out as basically slapstick and gets more and more serious as it goes on.

Australian newbie Justin Monjo is writing the script, and Lin is producing the film version with Animalogic; the animation company behind Happy Feet and Zack Snyder's upcoming Guardians of Ga'Hoole. He describes the test footage that's been produced so far as a mix of Shrek, Looney Tunes and The Marx Brothers in a Lord of the Rings landscape, and says that Jeff Smith is "very intricately involved in the development process with us"

Lin envisions more than one Bone film, but thinks the first will cover the events of the first three or four books. We're genuinely convinced and enthused by his assurance that the film has nothing to do with comic-book-movie bandwagoneering, and everything to do with loving the source material: "Most people don't know Bone, and the Comic-Con fanbase isn't enough to justify the studio [Warner] buying it as a brand-name. We just love the book. Our focus on the story itself is what attracted the studio."

All being well, Lin says a director for the project will be announced "in the first quarter of next year, and that'll give you a sense of where we're going." A close collaboration between Jeff Smith and the right director could make for a beautiful friendship: think Guilermo Del Toro and Mike Mignola on Hellboy. Hopefully "where we're going" is out from Boneville and off to Barrelhaven, as soon as possible.