Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bone (Jeff Smith)

Wow, where do I even start with this one?


I guess the best way to go with this is to just let you know: Bone is incredible. It may not be the best comic series of all time, it probably isn't even my favorite, but I have to admit that Jeff Smith must have done something to make God very happy, because the dude has a ton of talent. Bone is the story of three cousins—Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone— who get run out of Boneville by a lynch mob after Phoney manages to anger the entire town. Lost and wandering around the desert, the three are separated when they get caught in a swarm of locusts. Desperately searching for food, water, and each other, all of the Bones manage to find themselves in an enchanting valley filled with talking animals, mysterious dragons, and cow races. They quickly get back together, but only just before they find themselves involved in an ancient war between the Lord of Locusts and the dragons and humans determined to protect their world from being completely destroyed.

But all that is just plot. Bone is a terrific, terrific story, especially when you read Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume (1,332 pages for only $39.95!!!). But the true beauty of this comic is in the art and the characters. Jeff Smith really shows off his range in this book. He'll sometimes transition from a cartoony, almost comic-stripesque scene into a sprawling two-page splash that stops the reader right in their tracks. And he does it smoothly. This seamlessness carries over into characters, too. The three Bone cousins complement each other so well that it's often difficult to figure out which one is your favorite. Fone Bone is generous and brave; Phoney Bone is greedy but cunning; Smiley Bone is a huge goofball who just wants everyone to have a good time. Throw in a pair of blundering rat creatures, a cow-racing grandma and her beautiful granddaughter, and a grumpy innkeeper who used to be a great warrior, and you've got a mix that produces some of the best written scenes I've ever come across. Not only that, but it's extremely accessible. Smith never writes down to the reader. There are plenty of goofy moments that I would've loved when I was a kid (and, admittedly, still do), but it's so long and epic that I can't help but be impressed by its complexity. There were a few times past the 1,000-page mark that I thought it dragged on a little longer than it needed to, but considering that it was originally 55 separate comic book issues, I'm honestly surprised I never thought so sooner. Seriously, folks, at $39.95 you really can't go wrong. It's almost definitely the best bargain in comics, and it's worth the time and money. I would highly recommend checking this one out.


Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume
by Jeff Smith

This isn't a groundbreaking literary masterpiece, but when something is written so well, so consistently, over the course of such a long story, it's hard not to admire it.

It's clear he was influenced by a unique group of writers ranging from Charles Schulz to J.R.R. Tolkien (clear because that's what his Wikipedia page says). He uses these influences well, combining a masterful epic scope with a decent amount of absurdity.

This book is fun, accessible, and compelling. I'm not sure what else you need.


Keep reading, Genoshans!

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