Artist Jeff Smith debuted at No. 7 on the New York Times hardcover graphic books list this week. In 1991, Smith founded Cartoon Books to self-publish his comic book work, releasing his critically acclaimed series Bone.

Cartoon Books published a hardcover graphic novel of his Rasl story last month, a book following an ex-military engineer who uses the journals of Nikola Tesla to pull of mind-bending capers. We caught up with Smith to find out how comic book self publishing has evolved over the last 20 years. Smith explained:

Self-publishing has been a badge of honor in the comics community for two decades now, since the early 1990s. The Self-publishing Movement was a loosely affiliated group of like-minded writer-artists, who believed that the cartoonist was an author who’s work should be controlled by him or her, and should be read by the widest possible audience. We were on a quest for equal shelf space, equal critical reviews, the ability to sell our work beyond the confines of the comic book retail shops, and perhaps most important, the ability to print our own work and to keep it in print.

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