Long-Lost Nickelodeon "Yearbook" Shares Early Preview of Cancelled Bone Movie

25 years later, Jeff Smith's beloved comic book series still hasn't been made into a movie or TV show.

In 1998, Nickelodeon animators had a "yearbook," looking back at 1998 and forward to 1999, discussing both the people of Nick animation, and the projects they had been working on. The book, a copy of which was recently found by "lost media" documentarian LSuperSonicQ on YouTube, features early looks at hits like SpongeBob Squarepants, as well as more forgettable projects like The Electric Piper, which itself was lost for years before recently being rediscovered by the lost media community. But one of the highlights of the book for comic book fans was likely a peek behind the curtain at the almost-creation of Bone.

A TV show or movie based on Jeff Smith's beloved comic book series has been in development hell for decades now, and that road began in the late '90s at Nickelodeon. 25 years after this yearbook, a Bone project has still never graced our screens, but the yearbook gives a small but interesting behind-the-scenes perspective on those early efforts to make it happen.

You can see the Bone pages below.


Here's the relevant part, if you can't read that image:

"Nickelodeon: several projects are currently being developed in-house, such as a "rugrats" sequel and a "Hey Arnold!" feature," the yearbook reads

[Editor's note: the Hey Arnold! film in question was seemingly cancelled shortly before going into production.]

"Recently Nickelodeon acquired the rights to John Erickson's book 'Hank the [Cowdog],'" it continues. "Hank is a ranch dog in serach of a home. Development is beginning on Jeff SMith's comic book Bone. Bone is a fantasy adventure in the tradition of Star Wars. Fone Bone, our short-attention-span hero, teams upw ith a princess to defeat creatures and the "Evil Hooded One." Mike Smith recently joined us at the studio, he will be developing original ideas as well as workign on other in-house projects. You may recognize Mike's work from Natural Born Killers and Tank Girl."

You can see the full video, which goes into a lot more details, below.

Bone, which ran for thirteen years starting 1991, is one of the best-selling American comics in decades -- a sprawling fantasy journey that's often compared to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. In addition to being a big hit in the direct market, its trade paperbacks have made waves in the bookstore market and, after being bought up by Scholastic and reprinted in color, have become popular reading for educators around the country.

The long and winding road to not yet being made a movie started at Nick, but made pit stops at a few other places over the next 25 years, most notably Netflix, where a series was supposedly [thisclose] to getting made before being cancelled in early 2022.

"There were a couple of people that worked on some shows that I [asked about]," Smith said back when the show was still happening. "because I watched a bunch of Cartoon Network shows and some Netflix shows. Is this person around? Can we get this person? What's this guy doing now? Or what's she doing? And thanks to the pandemic, I was able to get everybody I wanted."

"I say thanks because there were people that were in contract, but we were delayed by like, eight or nine months because of the pandemic; [by that time] the contracts were up, and I got everybody I wanted," Smith added. "I don't want to really say who they are, because I don't want to steal Netflix's thunder but, yes. I got my dream team of animation people, and I'm pretty excited about it so far."