SAN DIEGO, DAY 2: Jeff Smith Says 'Shazam!' in 2003

[Shazam!]What do you do after you finish up an award-winning iconoclastic run on a unique self-published comic?

If you're Jeff Smith, after "Bone," you do a Captain Marvel miniseries for DC Comics, as announced Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego. 'Shazam! - Monster Society of Evil" will be a four issue prestige format miniseries in 2003.

"Well, I've got about six more issues of 'Bone,'" Smith told the attendees of the DC Comics panel Friday afternoon. "I've got a new project I'm starting to think about, which is a science fiction one ... But I have some time after 'Bone.'"

DC Comics Executive Editor "Mike Carlin called and asked 'would you be interested in doing any superhero work?'"

While Smith was flattered, but wary, until Carlin said he was offering Smith a chance to work on Captain Marvel.

"He's a very pure, very primal character. His comics were told in a very cartoony, very simple style.

"Another thing that appeals to me about Captain Marvel is that he doesn't have all the baggage that so many other characters have. Captain Marvel has pretty much been in deep freeze for at least 30 years, if not 60."

Smith was still on the fence until he saw his parents for Thanksgiving.

"When my mom and dad were kids, Captain Marvel was THE biggest character in the world," he said. "For me, finding out that my mom and dad liked a comic book character, that was unbelievable. For me, pretty much, the die was cast.

"My mom said ... 'when my sister would tickle me, I'd say Shazam, and I wouldn't be ticklish any more.' And I realized, that's it: It's about a kid being defenseless."

"Monster Society of Evil" doesn't follow chronologically after the monthly series that came to an end in the 1990s.

"It's not Year One, but it's when Billy is a kid, and isn't a self-reliant teenager at station WHIZ. ... He's a kid, living on the street, and he suddenly finds out he has a sister.

"It's full of adventure, and excitement, and whiny villains, and talking tigers. And I thought, 'what's more 'Bone' than that?'"

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