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Bone: One Volume Edition is well worth your money.
Why this book?
If I told you it was possible to purchase a single book collecting comics earning 10 Eisner Awards, 11 Harvey Awards, and a further 11 Eisner Award nominations, you might be excused for saying I was talking a lot of hot air.
Okay, so I may have neglected to point out this is a mammoth 1344 paged monster, containing all 55+ issues of Jeff Smith’s series.
Nevertheless, the accomplishments remain impressive.
The story is centered around the three Bone cousins Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoncible P. ”Phoney” Bone, who have been driven out of their homeland.
They cross the desert and find themselves in a strange new valley, a valley which is under threat from a mysterious dark entity.
The three cousins are all quite differing in character and their appearances draw attention to their variations. Fone is the “ordinary” character, Phoney is a greedy person who wants to get rich quickly, while Smiley is a little bit goofy and not the brightest of persons.
After living in the valley for a brief period the three cousins soon find themselves involved in a struggle, forced to protect a young country girl called Thorn from evil rat creatures.
This small conflict spins itself into a sweeping fantasy tale comparable to classic epics; most often Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings because of its evolution from something so small to something almost too big to comprehend.
Luckily, Bone avoids being overly dense, unlike some sprawling epics.
Also divergent from many classic fantasies, the adventures are mixed with a great deal of comedy. It doesn’t detract from the story – the majority of the humour is present in the earlier chapters and helps the reader to become attached to the characters.
The whole segment is a laugh a minute – unfortunately I can’t go into meticulous detail without spoiling it.
The one part I will tell you about is Phoney’s scheme to get rich off the race.
He intends to dress up Smiley as a cow and enter him into competition, while taking bets on who would win. He would then use Smiley to fix the race.
Of course, employing Smiley to do anything right is never a good idea.
Another ongoing comedic theme is the stupidity of the two main Rat Creatures; they often find themselves outsmarted by their prey or find themselves getting into dangerous situations because of their sheer idiocy.
Also, these creatures are meant to be carnivorous in nature, yet one seems to prefer the idea of a nice quiche – much to the horror of its companion.
I personally feel the simplistic artwork only adds to the this and any addition would only detract from it. For this reason, even though there is a series of colour reprints available from Scholastic, I personally prefer the original black and white linework included here.
One of the most charming and refreshing things about the book is that it is suitable for any age. There isn’t a single case of inappropriate language or behavior that should stop a young child from reading Bone.
I have personal experience reading the comic with a 6 year old and an 8 year old. They both enjoyed it enormously and were excited to hear it might be getting made into a series of films.
I did find a couple minor negative points. The ending seemed to be slightly anti-climatic; it was good, just not on the scale of what I had imagined it to be.
The other negative point is that I read it all in one sitting! But that is my own fault. I would recommend you don’t read it straight through, even if the story is compelling you to read on.
Having said that, it is cracking read and I have had to be a nitpicky to fault it.
Bone truly deserves its place in TIME Magazine’s 2005 list of the Top Ten Graphic Novels of all time.
I especially love that I will be able to read it with any children I may have in the future.
Other than the two spin-offs produced so far this title contains everything in this ”universe”, so it is very essential.
Nothing, just delve straight into the beast of a book.
There is also Stupid, Stupid Rat-Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero where Smith is joined by Tom Sniegoski (also writing for Tall Tales) and Stan Sakai.
Obsessive fans young and old may be interested in the Bone Handbook, including profiles and background information.
Apparently there will soon be a color hardcover version of the one volume edition, released for the 20th anniversary.
Or you could try Smith’s Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil.