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Bone: The Complete Edition

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An American graphic novel first! The complete 1300 page epic from start to finish in one deluxe trade paperback. Three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, spending a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are separated and los An American graphic novel first! The complete 1300 page epic from start to finish in one deluxe trade paperback. Three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, spending a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert. One by one they find their way into a deep forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. It will be the longest -- but funniest -- year of their lives.


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An American graphic novel first! The complete 1300 page epic from start to finish in one deluxe trade paperback. Three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, spending a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are separated and los An American graphic novel first! The complete 1300 page epic from start to finish in one deluxe trade paperback. Three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, spending a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert. One by one they find their way into a deep forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. It will be the longest -- but funniest -- year of their lives.

30 review for Bone: The Complete Edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    After being run out of Boneville because of one of Phoney Bone's schemes, the Bone cousins wind up in a valley in the mountains. It's a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire when war erupts around the valley and the cousins and their new friends are caught in the middle... Back in the 1990s, this book was the talk of the town but I was too cool for a comic book about cute characters. Now that I'm much older and also uncool, I decided to finally give it a shot. The art shares some similar After being run out of Boneville because of one of Phoney Bone's schemes, the Bone cousins wind up in a valley in the mountains. It's a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire when war erupts around the valley and the cousins and their new friends are caught in the middle... Back in the 1990s, this book was the talk of the town but I was too cool for a comic book about cute characters. Now that I'm much older and also uncool, I decided to finally give it a shot. The art shares some similarities with Calvin and Hobbes, probably due to the Walt Kelly influence on both. It also has a Disney feel. I likened it to the Black Cauldron while I was describing the series to my wife. Much love for the design of the Rat Creatures, BTW. At first, I wasn't super impressed with the story. Yadda yadda quest, yadda yadda dark one vs. chose one, etc. However, I quickly got attached to the antics of the Bone cousins and loved Gran'ma Ben. Both of my grandmas were tough ladies so she quickly became my favorite character. Thorn was a strong character, not content to buy all the bullshit people were spewing in her direction after being lied to all of her life. The story was epic in scope. The Barrelhaven, the valley, and reality itself were at stake before all was said and done. I think the mythology of the world did a lot to elevate it above a lot of epic fantasy. You know, plus the Bone cousins. Bone has pretty much everything you could want in a tale: humor, action, unrequited love, poignant moments. I really can't think of anything bad to say about it. Bone deserves all the awards it has won over the years, an epic tale for all ages. Five out of five stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    Book #7 for Jugs & Capes! read a cleaner version of this review on CCLaP! pre-read: I ordered this online and it arrived today -- not in a padded envelope, as is customary, but in a big-ass box. I should have understood then, but not until I sliced the box open did I realize just how massive this thing is. Good grief! I read on the subway, for heaven's sake; I need my books to be portable! So obviously I took a steak knife and some old Vice magazine covers and DIY'd it into three somewhat mor Book #7 for Jugs & Capes! read a cleaner version of this review on CCLaP! pre-read: I ordered this online and it arrived today -- not in a padded envelope, as is customary, but in a big-ass box. I should have understood then, but not until I sliced the box open did I realize just how massive this thing is. Good grief! I read on the subway, for heaven's sake; I need my books to be portable! So obviously I took a steak knife and some old Vice magazine covers and DIY'd it into three somewhat more manageable volumes. I haven't had to do that since Infinite Jest! *** post-read: Here is something that I have never thought about before: what is the onomatopoeic rendering of a sword pulled fast out of its...what is it, scabbard? Give up? It's SHING! I mean, of course it is, right? But who knew? That was my first roundaboutly clever way of saying omg omg omg Jeff Smith is a fucking genius. Here is my second, and it involves a visual aid: Just prior to the below panel, Bone has been told (by several people) that "winter comes on fast in these parts." Then what happens? This: Yeah. Jeff Smith, man. Fucking genius. Now I will talk about the book itself. As with a handful of amazing books I've read lately ( The Instructions , for one; also Raising Demons ), if you'd given me a plot synopsis before I'd started, I probably would not have been particularly inclined to pick this up. A trio of strange smooth androgynous bone creatures accidentally become part of an ancient war between the Dragons, the people of the Valley, and the God of the Locusts, and go on a quest to find the Crown of Horns, dodging Rat Creatures and Ghost Circles, aiding and abetted by by a sexy young farmhand and her ornery grandmother? Um, no thanks. I hate it when regular words get elevated via random capitalization. But this, man, holy fuck. This is unquestionably and irrepressibly riveting, engaging, fascinating. There's an awesomely compelling plot, solid mythology and history, terrific characters, an amazingly vast scope, fantastic art, a pitch-perfect balance at all times between pathos / humor, action / explication, dialogue / art, cute animals / bloody swordfights... Man. Wow. A couple other things. In college I took a course on Lord of the Rings, and one of the things we discussed was how the language of the trilogy subtly reinforces the path of the books from sort of light middle-grade fantasy in the beginning to a high-art, mature epic by the end. I would say a similar thing happens in Bone, where it starts out all kind of silly fun and games, but the book and the plot and the characters all elevate and expand as things proceed, opening and blooming into this vast, mature epic scope. Also, not only does this book pass the Bechdel Test (with flying colors), it's basically all women. The hero is a woman. Her great teacher is a woman. [Small by cryptic spoiler:] Even the villain is a woman! In addition -- this I didn't come up with myself; thanks Jugs & Capes girls -- there is basically no romantic subplot. How often does that happen in fantasy? I'd say close to never. But here, our heroine Thorn is way too busy being brilliant and strong and savvy and kicking ass and saving the fucking world to bother with something so trivial as whom to kiss. Yeah! Okay okay, enough. But jeesh, what a brilliant, spectacular book. Who cares that it's too big to carry anywhere? Who cares that it's written for kids? Who cares that it's epic fantasy? It's just fuckin' stunning.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Sanderson

    (This review is from 2006.) I haven’t done a review for a while, so I thought I’d do something a little bit different. A week or so back, a friend loaned me the complete BONE graphic novel. This is one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. Not only have I done very little reading in the graphic novel genre, but I’ve heard a lot of very good things about this one. I remember a friend reading issues from the then-serialized comic back during my freshman year of college. It was something of an under (This review is from 2006.) I haven’t done a review for a while, so I thought I’d do something a little bit different. A week or so back, a friend loaned me the complete BONE graphic novel. This is one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. Not only have I done very little reading in the graphic novel genre, but I’ve heard a lot of very good things about this one. I remember a friend reading issues from the then-serialized comic back during my freshman year of college. It was something of an underground hit that went mainstream, and all of the issues—some ten years worth, or 1300 pages—were released in a single volume a couple of years back. It’s a very interesting read. It’s something of a cross between an old Loony Tunes cartoon and a serious, epic fantasy novel. It’s about a group of three ‘Bones’ from ‘Boneville’ who get lost and end up in a kingdom far from home, then get caught up in an epic struggle between good and evil. It owes a lot to The Lord of the Rings. However, much of the writing is excellent, and there’s some fairly decent original worldbuilding. This is fascinating for me, because these are things that I don’t immediately associate with comic books. I know that I’m not doing them justice—and I’m sure there are lots of very excellent ones out there. However, I was surprised to read one that felt so much like a traditional epic fantasy, all be it one with three cartoony characters mixed in with the rest of the medieval-style fantasy cast. I felt that the story broke down a tad near the ending. There were a couple of points where the plotting seemed forced, and I have quibbles with the resolution of a few climaxes. However, I find I must give a great amount of credit to the author—an independent artist named Jeff Smith. He not only did this virtually on his own, but managed to release something serialized that he could never change, had to plot and pace over ten years time, and had to bring together into one massive story at the end. The restraints of the medium considered, he did an excellent job. There’s a good mixture of humor, pacing, and action—even if the character arcs of most of the characters are a tad weak. All and all, I can see why this has been named as one of the top ten graphic novels of our time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Once upon a time, the Marx brothers went to a magical kingdom and met a old woman who races cows and stupid, stupid rat creatures who have idenity problems involing the eating of quiche. It's funny how we change and yet, somehow, stay the same. I've read comics (or graphic novels) at three points in my life so far. In each of these points, it's been a slightly different style. When I was a preteen, my local store sold mainly DC and so I read those. But it was mainly non-mainstream - Rocket Raccoo Once upon a time, the Marx brothers went to a magical kingdom and met a old woman who races cows and stupid, stupid rat creatures who have idenity problems involing the eating of quiche. It's funny how we change and yet, somehow, stay the same. I've read comics (or graphic novels) at three points in my life so far. In each of these points, it's been a slightly different style. When I was a preteen, my local store sold mainly DC and so I read those. But it was mainly non-mainstream - Rocket Raccoon and Atari Force. In high school, I got mainly into Marvel (long live the original New Warriors, Firestar, and Jean Grey) until the Marvel writing really, truly declined. Now, when I read comics I'm reading Veritgo (so back to DC) or independent graphic novels stuff like The Complete Maus. I picked this up because several reviewers raved about it. It's a cartoon epic fairy tale. It is what Disney princesses should be. It's an instant classic. It's pure genius. It's laugh out loud funny. I guess one of the reasons why I stopped reading Marvel comics was the secondary status of many of the female characters as well as the fact that whenever a female got too powerful, she had a "power" issue - something that Magneto, at time if ever, really had. And there is a trend in fantasy fiction, be it comic, book or movie, for the chosen one to be male. Or if the chosen is a girl, she's a baby (think Willow) Here the chosen one is a girl who matures over the length of the epic. Her name is Thorn, btw, and she isn't the only strong woman in the story. The main focus of the story isn't entirely Thorn, but the Bone cousins - Phoney, Smiley, and, most importantly, Fone. These Bones have been run out of Boneville due to an unfortunate political campign, and eventually met up with Thorn and her grandma Ben, who races cows. What then follows is part Lord of the Rings, part comic book action, mostly epic fantasy with slapstick thrown in at the right moments. (I personally loved all the Moby Dick jokes myself. The epic combines the best part of an epic fantasy story with the best part of a good comic book. It deals with family love, loyalty, romantic love, friendship, the pysche, and cats. As well as dragons and the nature of good and evil. It is the type of book that you would love to see on the big screen, but you now if they ever did, Hollywood would F**K it up. While the book is mostly child friendly (there are scary scenes and violence as well as jokes about nudity), it is really adult in most of its references. Aww, skip this review and just read it, okay?

  5. 4 out of 5

    George

    I loved this comic book. The art style reminded me of Belgian comics of my childhood and the story... I must say should be worthy of Tolkien.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jackie "the Librarian"

    I thought, okay, weird little guys with big noses, lost in the woods, this is going to be goofy humor with throw-away gags. (And what ARE these guys, anyways? I never did figure that one out - there's a whole other story waiting to be told about that.) And then, it turned into an epic! With kingdoms, royalty in exile, and battles, and life and death danger stuff! AWESOME! I liked this better than the Lord of the Rings. Shhh. Don't tell the Tolkienites.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    A friend gave the Bone single volume collection to me a gift one year. I wasn't familiar with the series prior to that but had just finished a semester of graduate english lit courses that focused on cultural studies and serial fiction. Bone is Lord of the Rings meets Dickens. I loved it. The beginning pages hooked me with humor, the middle turned into serious plot with social commentary, then wrapped everything up but was a little too ladden with explanations, I thought, of the authors vision a A friend gave the Bone single volume collection to me a gift one year. I wasn't familiar with the series prior to that but had just finished a semester of graduate english lit courses that focused on cultural studies and serial fiction. Bone is Lord of the Rings meets Dickens. I loved it. The beginning pages hooked me with humor, the middle turned into serious plot with social commentary, then wrapped everything up but was a little too ladden with explanations, I thought, of the authors vision and Bone mythology. I would recommend this to comic and graphic novel lovers, serialized fiction lovers... anyone who likes to read really. It looks intimidating because the book is so hefty, but it'll rest nicey on any coffee table or nightstand wihout clashing with the decor of the room until you can read through to the end.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Jedan od mojih omiljenih stripskih serija. Količina šarma, toplote i lepote koja krije ova na prvi pogled jednostavna priča je prosto neverovatna. Najjači deo cele knjige (stripa) su sami likovi i njihova interakcija. Iskreno mogu da pričaju o bilo kakvim glupostima pa će meni biti zabavno da čitam sto strana :) Priče koje pratimo su u suštini dve različite; jedna o pokušajima familije Bone da se vrate kući i druga i daleko klasičnija fatazijska priča o sukobima dve rase i izabranom ko će pomoći Jedan od mojih omiljenih stripskih serija. Količina šarma, toplote i lepote koja krije ova na prvi pogled jednostavna priča je prosto neverovatna. Najjači deo cele knjige (stripa) su sami likovi i njihova interakcija. Iskreno mogu da pričaju o bilo kakvim glupostima pa će meni biti zabavno da čitam sto strana :) Priče koje pratimo su u suštini dve različite; jedna o pokušajima familije Bone da se vrate kući i druga i daleko klasičnija fatazijska priča o sukobima dve rase i izabranom ko će pomoći da se sukob reši. Naravno to se na kraju sve izmeša ali je opet izuzetno zabavno iako ne suviše originalno. Crteži su predivni, u većem delu slučajeva jednostavni ali kada zatreba budu takvi da oduzimaju dah. I način na koji je akcija prikazana je odlična pošto na momente se dobija utisak da su stranice žive i da gledma crtani film a ne da čitamo strip. Plus humor je prvoklasan. Suptilan i iznenadan tako da sam sebe često hvatao da se smejem ko lud, a to se nedešava često i naročito ne u štivu koje nije predstavljeno kao humorističko.. Ako bi morao da uporedim ovo sa nekim filmom najsličniji bi bio Smrtonosno Oružije ako va treba neka ideja kakva vrsta priče vas očekuje po tonu. Sve u svemu svaka preporuka čak i ako niste ljubitelj stripova.

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Smith's evocative and energetic drawings tell an enthusiastic and deeply-felt mini-epic. His simple chiaroscuro backgrounds create a fantastical but very real world. His strange cartoons mix with caricatures of realism to produce an easy-to-understand psychological reality. However his very strong characterization sometimes falls prey to simple archetype, which weakens the story and the suspension of disbelief. Otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable, funny, endearing, and exciting read. My Suggested R Smith's evocative and energetic drawings tell an enthusiastic and deeply-felt mini-epic. His simple chiaroscuro backgrounds create a fantastical but very real world. His strange cartoons mix with caricatures of realism to produce an easy-to-understand psychological reality. However his very strong characterization sometimes falls prey to simple archetype, which weakens the story and the suspension of disbelief. Otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable, funny, endearing, and exciting read. My Suggested Readings in Comics

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    4 1/2 stars. This is my final review of this fantastic (and meticulously detailed, cartoon-meets-realist) fantasy epic. Now that I've completed it, I had to dock one-half star for a (to me) incomprehensible ending. I'll save my discussion of that to the end though, so that I can lead with the rave. Bleach the colors from Walt Kelly's Pogo (with Al Gator as Smiley Bone, Pogo as Fone Bone, and Pork Pine as Phoncible ('Sponsible?) P. "Phoney" Bone) and shove them into Elfquest via Australian aborigi 4 1/2 stars. This is my final review of this fantastic (and meticulously detailed, cartoon-meets-realist) fantasy epic. Now that I've completed it, I had to dock one-half star for a (to me) incomprehensible ending. I'll save my discussion of that to the end though, so that I can lead with the rave. Bleach the colors from Walt Kelly's Pogo (with Al Gator as Smiley Bone, Pogo as Fone Bone, and Pork Pine as Phoncible ('Sponsible?) P. "Phoney" Bone) and shove them into Elfquest via Australian aboriginal mythology*, then sprinkle with inside jokes and literary/comics allusions galore and you have this wonderful book. The characters and dialogue are so enjoyable, and the story so engaging that author Smith can even wink directly at the audience... "I just can't get over it! A princess! I mean, who'd have thought that our little Thorn -- living in a cottage with her grandmother out in the middle of an old, dark forest -- would turn out to be a princess?! Unbelievable!" (Dragonslayer volume), and get away with it. *[footnote here - I assume Bone's "Dreaming" mythology and its accompanying ghost-circle stick figures are inspired by aboriginal world views, but as I know virtually nothing about aboriginal culture, I couldn't say for certain. If anyone can suggest a good entry point into this terra incognita for me, I'd really appreciate it.] I discovered this book when I browsed the first volume in the library with my son (who's 6) and let him use his card to borrow it. I pretty much had to run back immediately to the library to get out the remaining volumes, because his 8 year-old sister started devouring this epic at the rate of 150 pages/day (and I too wanted to know what happens next). Both my kids enjoyed reading this to themselves (as did I), but let me tell you, play-acting the dialog in different voices is a whole new level of tremendous fun. I recommend a group reading, with assigned parts. Fun-fun-fun. Suffice it to say that once you start, this graphic novel is well-nigh impossible to put down. It says something for the tremendously underrated sophistication of comics as an independent literary genre (sequential art? graphic novel? can we please dispense with these annoying euphemisms?) that what took Smith twelve years to create, we Falks (including wee Falks) devoured in only about a week (and re-read, too, as my son continued to pick up random volumes to re-experience especially funny moments before I could return them today to the library, something which I suppose is akin to track-selecting off DVD copies of Casablanca or Airplane!, etc. to relive the best moments. Be warned that the end of the penultimate volume and the last volume are a bit of a disappointment. First, in deviating in tone and content from the majority of that which precedes them, they are arguably inappropriate for littler people. Like Harry Potter, the intensity rises at the end, but here the transition is stark rather than gradual as medieval violence that was previously offstage or implied is suddenly rendered in gory detail (sharp teeth embedded in thighs, scythe-beheadings, eviscerations, etc.). Didn't faze my 8 year old (though I wouldn't have allowed her to read this part if I knew it was coming: stupid, stupid rat parent), but my 6 year old was only too happy for me to synopsize this for him and move his bookmark forward past the egregiously rough stuff. From a literary vantage point, I have to complain that the end of this work sacrifices a semblance of internal consistency in order to cinematically accelerate pacing. Not a satisfactory (or necessary?) trade-off. As in The Matrix (a more or less contemporaneous work), Bone is a coming-of-age story in which the protagonist's maturation coincides with increasing abilities to directly impact the "real" world. In Matrix, this was Neo discovering himself to be wetwired into a vast virtual reality simulation, and then successfully hacking it until he could change simulation events in real time. In Bone, we have a pre-to-post pubescent girl named Thorn discovering how to intermix dreams with reality, using the content of the former to change the latter. Narratively, the problem with each plot involves the articulation of what, if anything, restricts these powers. In the first of the Matrix movies, such apparent omnipotence manifested itself by Neo's distorting the laws of physics -- ostensibly slowing time to make it possible to dodge or redirect bullets. We viewers may give the Wachowski brothers a pass here (all the pyrotechnics are part of the point of the film's appeal), but c'mon, folks, if I were able to change reality, then why not cause those bullets to become drifting flower petals or simply to vanish entirely? Perhaps the agents can thwart this in real-time themselves (which might lead I suppose to bullets flickering in and out of reality), but as depicted, the agents seem to be incapable of preventing the ceiling from suddenly morphing into a falling grand piano and crushing them (or for that matter, the agents simply exploding without resort to external firearms). You can see where such reality-changing leads. Partly, it presents the Green Lantern problem, in which your ability to affect others is limited only by your ingenuity. Partly it also presents the Superman or God problem, in which all monolithic threats (that is, no horns of a dilemma, such as being forced to choose one among multiple victims to rescue) to the protagonist appear trivial. Set aside for a moment the bizarrely bad paternal example set by Supes in the recent film Superman Returns (no mean feat setting this aside; this was so mind-numbingly *wrong* for the film's intent and tone, it made me want to scream "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???" at the movie screen). What really undercut the film's credibility for me was that the limits of Superman's powers were never adequately established. Why should a guy who seems to make quite an effort to land a plane at the start of the movie be able to use about the same amount of oomph to lift and carry an ISLAND OF (rare???) KRYPTONITE into space. That feat alone would seem to trivialize everything that's come before. Back to Bone, it's no spoiler to tell you that Thorn's complete mastery is revealed when she takes to the air a la Superman. (There's emotionally satisfying commentary that accompanies this which I will not reveal.) The immediate problem to the narrative becomes why she doesn't continue unimpeded to her objective (she is given no reason to stop), and then of course, the follow-up problem, that if she can now thus impose her will on the waking world, what can't she do? The book does not lack for exposition. In a way, the discussion of religion and politics that arises from Jeff Smith's characters discuss and consistently challenge the work's central mythology is one of the richer themes of the book. Throughout the series we are treated to tons of exposition regarding the novel's mythology: the relationship of the living to the dead, the origins of the world, the various animals and their histories, the "hum of the Earth," and the dreaming and waking states. Yet there is much readers are asked to take unacceptably on faith. Once the uber-villain has been destroyed, there follows an apocalyptic anti-climax full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing. Readers might wonder whether Mim, a dragon large enough to encircle the globe, was crazy or not, captive or not, alive or dead? Are the dragons constructive, destructive, or neutral agents and why do they act the way they do? Unfortunately, none of this is satisfactorily explained in the context of what (over 900 pages) has come before. Things just happen at increasing volume and velocity until they wholly independently stop. Not too satisfying, that. Nor does Smith appear here to be ignoring a considered, if deliberately-ambiguous ending simply to rush to a conclusion, as following the confusing anticlimax, Smith pads his last volume with filler the equivalent of An Ewok Christmas. While the winter solstice episode was mildly amusing and entertaining, absent any attempt to tie up (or even address) the plot's loose ends, I'd have preferred to skip right to the epilogue which treats our protagonist's respective fates. Still and all, it pays to stay with the book for its last pages, as Smith makes up for his semi-cloying outtro by closing with a deliciously satirical commentary on the confluence of greed, religion, and politics in another wink at the audience. Surprisingly, this appears to have been written in 1998, not 2004. If so, Jeff Smith should get credit as something of a prophet. All in all, if Bone falls a few crumbs shy of a feast it is amply filling nonetheless. Yea, brothers and sisters, as far as I'm concerned this text is worthy of canonization, repeat study, and devotion of at least a week of evenings. Even if it lapses into incoherence at the tail end, it's still an impressive and ambitious achievement in all-ages fantasy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Seth T.

    [Bad morning.] I wasn't sure I'd ever review Jeff Smith's Bone. After all, is there much that can be said that hasn't already been said? Bone's so long been part of the canon of comics literature (such as one exists) that reviewing it at this point is like reviewing Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns or Maus. Or for the non-comics-literate, a bit like if someone penned a review today for Huckleberry Finn. I mean, what's the point, really? Still, I tell myself, there are those who haven't read the [Bad morning.] I wasn't sure I'd ever review Jeff Smith's Bone. After all, is there much that can be said that hasn't already been said? Bone's so long been part of the canon of comics literature (such as one exists) that reviewing it at this point is like reviewing Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns or Maus. Or for the non-comics-literate, a bit like if someone penned a review today for Huckleberry Finn. I mean, what's the point, really? Still, I tell myself, there are those who haven't read the book yet. There are those who have read comics for years who haven't read Bone and ought to be ashamed of themselves. These are aficionados of the medium who need to be cajoled into reading something that will make them better participants in the medium. And there are those still new to the medium who might not be familiar with the canon and might not be aware of Good Places To Start. This review is probably mostly for them. And for people who might google the question, What's the first graphic novel I should read? (You hear that Google?) Additionally spurring my interest in reviewing the book, I have a daughter. She's three and likes me to read to her in the evenings. I had read her The Little Prince and Just So Stories when she was two, but I thought she might get a kick out of comics before bed. She had previously seen book one of Gene Yang's Avatar: The Promise, which she loved because she was already familiar with the show. A father can only read so many times about Sokka and Toph getting the oogly-booglies from watching Aang and Katara getting frisky before that father just snaps—so I needed something fresh. Something new. Something I could stand to read repetitiously. So I pulled down Bone. She was almost instantly excited. And after she became interested and comfortable with the characters, she was wholly invested. Now Smith's characters thoroughly infest her imaginative play. She insists that she is Bartleby and her one-year-old brother is Ted the bug. I have become Jackal Bone, some fell hybrid between Phoncible P. Bone and, well, your common jackal. Though sometimes I am Kingdok and sometimes I am Roque Ja and sometimes I'm the Big Red Dragon. In any case, she and other kids love this book and rereading it several times to her over the last months has given me new appreciation for Smith's creation. Also, there's the whole colour thing to consider. More later. Promise! First, a bit of history. [There's always time for locusts.] Bone was one of that first crop of creator-owned books that constituted a burgeoning movement away from the malaise of the corporation-directed folderol of the '80s. Smith spent thirteen years (from 1991 to 2004) publishing chapters of what would eventually be a 1300-page epic fantasy story. I hopped on in somewhere around the year 2000, when Smith was nearly 65% through. Waiting each month for the release of a new chapter was tortuous. I needed to see the conclusion and I needed to see it now. And then, as Smith approached his finale, several months would pass between chapters. It was grueling. Readers first approaching the book today are blessed with the option of purchasing the entire series in a handy, single-volume paperback version.1 But rather than just talk about the book, let's start with looking at some of Smith's art. Because while, yes, his characters and dialogue and verbal storytelling are wonderful, one of the foremost joys of the book is how he conveys his narrative through artistic choices. This is a simple chase sequence, but it's composed masterfully. Fone Bone jumps from a snowbank onto a lower bank and makes a little progress while fleeing furiously from the rat creature who dives into the snow at his heels. (Excitement!) In the next panel, we see another rat creature face-first in the snow at Bone's heels a second time. (Hot pursuit!) Fone Bone comes to an impassable river and waterfall but looks down to find an escape. We and he think he's found a respite but are surprised to find rat creatures to be more driven by instinct than by reason. While the page ends with some humour, the real punchline is on the next page as the branch fails to support their weight and the three tumble into the falls below. The second panel on this page is majestic as we see silouetted the three small figures against a mere portion of the formidable falls. If we hadn't taken in the awesome danger Fone Bone is in by panel two, Smith drives it home by completely obscuring the three characters in the tumult of the falls' base. The volatile energy in that scene is terrific. Panel four brings us relief again as Fone Bone breaks the surface with a gasp. We know how lucky he was to make it but are almost instantly dismayed in the next panel to see the heads of the rat creatures breaking the surface as well, and the pursuit is begun anew. Unfortunately, wet Fone Bone slips on the icy rocks and the tension crescendoes on the final panel of that second page. Here's another one: While the prior example was fraught with action, this shows Smith using entirely different techniques to build tension. Across these three panels, there is essentially no movement save for Thorn's eyes and from Fone Bone as he struggles then reacts to what he's seen. Otherwise, Fone Bone, Granma Ben, and Thorn retain the same position across the panels. The source of drama comes from a bright lightning flash in the second panel. We (and Fone Bone) see the scene unveiled for what it is, for what was wholly obscured by the dark and stormy nighttime. Fone Bone moves from being annoyed at Granma Ben to startled by the lightning to terror at what he's just seen. It's a beautiful scene and the book is full of this stuff. Over the years since I first finished the story in 2004 I had remembered the characters and their plot points, but I had forgotten this. I had forgotten what a master craftsman Jeff Smith is when he chooses how to visually tell his story. Bone employs a lot of dialogue and Smith is not shy about using words. Still, he shows over and again that he knows when to shut up and let his art speak for him and his characters. Even if Bone was entirely wordless and plotless, it would be worth your time for the art alone. So then, what about words? Another thing I had forgotten was just how funny these characters can be even while in the midst of terrible, LOTR-level, world-collapsing events. People are dying left and right and there's a tremendous war on and Smiley Bone is still a silly bastion of joy and laughter. And to Smith's credit, that never feels trite or abusive. That the book is riddled with funny moments even in the midst of dark doings and ill tidings may be exactly what saves it from being as grim and dour and thematically grey as some of its fantasy-genre cousins. The reader never feels that lives aren't at stake but simultaneously never feels overwhelmed by that threat. [It's true. There is.] As well, Smith populates his story with expressive, unique, and noteworthy characters. That my daughter would adopt so many for her waking dreams is impressive and is evidence of the good job Smith does. All of the protagonists are well-rounded and individuated (save perhaps for Smiley Bone, who remains a bastion of zany aloofness throughout). Even the supporting characters are given personalities and motivations. We spend the most time with Fone Bone and his opposite lead, Thorn, and by story's close we see them grow through the challenges they've had to overcome. They are full-fledged fictional beings. Smith's villains are worthy as well. Though he doesn't so much follow after the footsteps of Miyazaki, making his antagonists sympathetic figures, he does at least make them interesting. Bone's story is as full-orbed and ranging as its characters. What begins as light adventure soon turns to dark mystery. And then back to adventure. And then to epic journey and battle against cataclysmic evil. And all woven throughout with a sense of myth and spirit. There are forces at work in Fone Bone's world that are beyond the seeing eye and tap into energies outside the realm of the sciences. And I don't mean wizards and dragons. Even though those are there too. These things work to make Bone's world and mythos feel substantial, solid. And it helps that his story is exciting. Which you already knew because why else would I describe the wait for new chapters as tortuous? At the end of the day, if you haven't read Bone yet, you really ought to. If you like comics at all, you owe it to yourself. If you like adventure or fantasy, you owe it to yourself. If you want to read your kids something a little dangerous and a little exciting and a little funny and quite possibly the best thing your kids will have yet experienced, you owe it to yourself and to them. And if you've already read Bone but it's been a couple years, you owe it to yourself. [Thorn's such a flirt.] The Colour Edition Several years ago, Smith worked with Scholastic to bring the book to a wider youth audience. Part of the marketing was to colour the book. (As originally published, Bone was a strictly black-and-white endeavor.) I'm not sure whether having the book in colour was one of Smith's abiding desires or if Scholastic believed they could better sell it to kids if it were in colour—but whatever the case, when you go onto Amazon or wherever to order your copy, you'll have a variety of formats to choose from. One of those is the colour edition. [*sigh*] I won't say that Bone in colour is an abomination, but only because I can't really justify that critique because I haven't read the entire thing in colour. Because what I did read was awful. Or maybe not awful. Maybe it was just uninspired. But when you lay uninspired on top of majesty, you've done something terrible. This colouring job is that. You may not think it's possible to suck the life out of a black-and-white comic by adding colour but you can. You really and truly can. So please, for your sake and for your children's sake: buy and read Bone in black and white. It's beautiful and stunning and you won't feel embarrassed for the book while reading it. The One Thing I Didn't Like Really at All So this is weird and in a way pretty major, but I hated the ending. Now is the time for those who haven't read the book to stop reading. You already know I adore the book and think you should absolutely read this thing. It's canon and it deserves to be so. Everything hereafter is SPOILER. Okay, so I was completely and entirely sold on Smith's world until the last chapter. The climax and even most of the denouement were stellar and right along with what Smith was doing with his story and characters. It all fit. Then, in the last pages, we see his principal characters make a decision that kind of goes wholly against who Smith developed them to be. I'm not sure why he chose that ending for his book. In the story in my head, fifteen years earlier when Smith first thought of the story, he came up with an ending. Over the intervening years, his narrative grew and new ideas insinuated themselves. His characters grew in ways he hadn't originally charted out. They became something more than what he had proposed to himself in the beginning. And over the years he added plot points and dialogues and maybe even new arcs. So when he comes to his conclusion, it obviously needs to be different in at least nuance from what he had originally planned. And yet, for reasons foreign to my imagination, Smith decided to stick with his original ending, even though it clearly did not fit with the characters he'd created and the circumstance they find themselves in. That's how it happened in my imaginary version of what went down to make this ending the ending that got published. I recall being disappointed when I first read that last chapter seven years ago. But whatever my reaction was, in my memory, I was merely annoyed. Reading it again now with my daughter, I was actually angry. I wasn't angry that these characters made the choices they did. I was angry that they did so inexplicably—that there was no justification for their final decision. It didn't fit with Fone Bone's character arc. It didn't fit with Phoney Bone's character motivations. It felt entirely foreign to everything Smith had done prior to that moment. And that just makes me sad for the project, that perfection could be so easily evaporated in a book's final pages. And now I'm sad. [Anger.] _____________________ Foot Notes 1) My impatience for the final unveiling of a story is the primary reason I no longer buy single issues of any series and will even push off acquiring the collected volumes until a series wraps. If a series is good, I always regret reading it in fits and starts while it waits to complete. Bone, Y: The Last Man, Cross Game, 20th Century Boys, and Twin Spica. Note within a note: The tough thing about my newly acquired methodology is that it's inhibiting to smaller publishers. For instance, Twin Spica's publisher Vertical saw such poor sales on the series that even in the month the twelfth and final volume was released, older volumes were out of print with no plans to bring the series back. Beyond merely being a shame because it's such a good series, this makes it bad news for those who would wait until a series concludes to begin collecting. _____________________ [Review courtesy of Good Ok Bad.]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arnis

    https://poseidons99.wordpress.com/201...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) It was through CCLaP critic Oriana Leckert's write-up for her Jugs & Capes essay series last year (book version finally coming next week!) that first brought Jeff Smith's epic comic Bone to my attention, plus of course the fevered recommendations I'd sometimes hear from the edges of the comics-loving (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) It was through CCLaP critic Oriana Leckert's write-up for her Jugs & Capes essay series last year (book version finally coming next week!) that first brought Jeff Smith's epic comic Bone to my attention, plus of course the fevered recommendations I'd sometimes hear from the edges of the comics-loving crowd around me; so when the Chicago Public Library recently acquired a copy of the full 1,500-page omnibus edition, I thought it was finally time for me to sit down and check it out myself. And oh, am I glad I did, for all the passionate fanboy things you hear about it is true; done by a guy who grew up with dual obsessions for Walt Kelly's Pogo and JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, it's a massive saga that combines both, the tale of three silly cartoon characters from "the next universe over" who stumble one day into the middle of a realistically drawn fantasy epic among the neighbors they never knew they had. So as such, then, there are a whole number of things going on here to admire, that don't sound like they'd go together in one book but somehow do -- the surrealistic expressive perfection of such 1930s cartoons as Krazy Kat and early Disney, the sweeping landscapes of representational drawing, a contemporary sensibility when it comes to dramatic highlights, all married to a story complex enough for a 1,500 page narrative -- and while I'm not a particularly obsessive fan of either Pogo or Lord of the Rings, I sure found myself becoming one of Smith's attempt to bring them together, a project that can be equally loved in a subtle, knowing way by adults (think of the difference between watching Chuck Jones at ten versus thirty) and in a straightforward, surface-level way by the actual ten-year-olds. (And indeed, in what has come as a shock to the indie-zinester creator, one of Bone's largest audiences has turned out to be actual kids, so much so that Scholastic recently paid a hefty sum for the reprint rights, and are spending the next decade re-publishing the entire run now in full color and marketed directly to pre-teens.) So then flush with heady excitement over this new find, I also pulled up on Netflix a documentary that's been made about Smith and the Bone phenomenon, 2009's The Cartoonist; although I'm happy to report that it turns out to be about a lot more than just that, in reality a great overlook at the entire indie-comics explosion that happened in the 1990s, everything from confessional art-school kids to a new superhero publisher, all the way to such hard-to-classify projects as Bone or Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. It turns out that Smith was part of a little clique of self-publishing cartoonists back then, who banded together in various smart ways in order to help each other stay afloat -- sharing expenses at conventions, promoting each other's work -- making this not just a narrow film about the comic itself and how it came about (although there's plenty of that too, including the revelation that Smith has been casually doodling the "Bone" characters since literally a child, and that in high school and college he really did put them through a series of adventures in their own world that are only briefly referenced in this newest epic), but also a bigger documentary about the DIY spirit, the changing face of small business, the trials and tribulations of self-publishing, and a lot more. Granted, the production values are not high -- it features lots of talking head shots, lots of personal offices being used as set backgrounds, and all the other things one associates with cheap quickie docs found in many DVD extras -- but the content more than makes up for it, especially when coming right on the heels of reading the book for the first time like I did. Both come very strongly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    If somebody had come up to me with this brick and said, "Hey, you should read this! It's like Walt Kelly having a J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired fever dream! For hundreds and hundreds of pages!" I probably would have blinked a couple times and changed the subject. But this adorably geeky English teacher from one of the Carolinas presented it at a graphic novel forum at NCTE as the only thing the kids in his highly resistant 7th-grade classroom would read cover to cover. And it is oddly gripping, I must If somebody had come up to me with this brick and said, "Hey, you should read this! It's like Walt Kelly having a J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired fever dream! For hundreds and hundreds of pages!" I probably would have blinked a couple times and changed the subject. But this adorably geeky English teacher from one of the Carolinas presented it at a graphic novel forum at NCTE as the only thing the kids in his highly resistant 7th-grade classroom would read cover to cover. And it is oddly gripping, I must say.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Wiswell

    There was a week when we had no electricity and I spent my nights by candlelight and a propane heater. It was freezing in my living room. Those were the circumstances under which I read Jeff Smith’s Bone. At several points I yelled at the page or laughed despite myself. It kept me staying up later in the cold darkness to read more of what was essentially an all-ages comic book. I can’t give it a stronger endorsement than that, but I can talk about what brings this book together. Bone deceives you There was a week when we had no electricity and I spent my nights by candlelight and a propane heater. It was freezing in my living room. Those were the circumstances under which I read Jeff Smith’s Bone. At several points I yelled at the page or laughed despite myself. It kept me staying up later in the cold darkness to read more of what was essentially an all-ages comic book. I can’t give it a stronger endorsement than that, but I can talk about what brings this book together. Bone deceives you with charm. It’s a sprawling Fantasy story where the “badass” warriors are senior citizens, and the Hobbit-style overwhelmed adventurers are one-upped by cartoons. Early on characters wager over who can sell the most beer, and when Fone asks how things could be worse, and a literal blanket of snow falls out of the sky and onto his head. The first few hundred pages only hint at the range it will strive after, with images of something like a Grim Reaper, a frantic nocturnal chase scene, and prophetic dreams of the past. If you buy this version then you know it has to go somewhere – it can’t be lighthearted for all 1,300 pages. Yet even as the great quest unfolds and grave consequences emerge, Bone refuses to be merely dramatic. It is not a comic book equivalent of all those treacle “Epic” Fantasies that descend into mere angst or suffering. When two characters bicker over ditching the quest, a third starts giving them static shocks until they lose their train of thought. The humorous or the humbling intrude as often as the perilous. Jeff Smith has no problem first establishing surprising gravity, and then keeping it in check. That allows him to endear characters and make them suffer fates that are mild in contrast to other Fantasies, yet lend them greater impact. Most readers won’t remark on the variety in Smith’s art. In the black and white edition everything seems to fit together, yet he compiles several different styles. The eponymous Bone family members look like Fantasy via Charles Schultz, sharing characteristics with Snoopy the Dog (most evident when they’re yelling about something). Thorn, our female protagonist, looks like a Disney princess. Yet her grandma could be Popeye in drag. They are wildly different body structures, faces and uses of lines, pulled together without any coloration to help. It’s only more impressive when he expands to using solid blacks, taking us out of the lighthearted cartoon atmosphere for things like a nighttime chase scene where he flips his monochrome style. That same essential cartoon atmosphere helps lull you into expectations he can break, so that one bloody sword or one swollen eye are more jarring than a field of decapitated soldiers in another comic. While not a mere comic book version of one, this is one of those “Epic” Fantasies. Our homeless Bones get dragged into intrigues about a magical evil threatening to return to the world, and the restoration of royalty, and other planes of existence. Less like the film equivalent and more like prose, Bone’s big journey relies on character rather than big fight scenes. Some of the creatures are suitably intimidating thanks to scale and physicality, and there are some staggering visuals, including one page featuring every kind of dragon (each from a different culture’s interpretation and native art style). Yet the characters carry everything. You only care about the giant mountain lion, Rockjaw, because he might really maim one of these little, vulnerable guys. Comedy and adorable art help endear them, but the regrets of the elderly and revelations as to why someone became selfish or withdrawn are just as effective. Characters are only compromised by occasional expository dialogue, a hold-over from when this was published serially and readers might miss a few issues. Above all, Smith excels at giving his characters at least one page in which to shine. Sometimes that’s Phoncible Bone delivering an indignant monologue about why he’s Ahab in the hero’s delusion. In another, it’s a minor character who you never gave thought to, seeking forgiveness before he faces certain death. The most striking of the one-page moments belongs to Kingdok. This hulking rat-creature is a menace for much of the book. Yet at one point he’s left unconscious, possibly bleeding to death, and abandoned by his minions. The art draws back to show the starry sky and barren trees. There’s no one to help him. Kingdok doesn’t beg or even say a word. Smith doesn’t use this to turn the character around into some sympathetic giant or redeemed hero; if you see him again, he’ll probably try to eat you. It’s merely that in his existence, Smith has given him a moment where he’s more vulnerable than any of our heroes have been. It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen often in mature grown-up books, and so is more puzzling to discover here. Don’t let that moment fool you: Bone does not turn to monotone severity. It is merely unafraid of severity. This is still the same book that pokes fun at Herman Melville and has a man serve a monster an invisible sandwich. Often its understated presentation helps moments of gravity. If you go a thousand pages seeing this cheery character, and then he is beaten and his eye is left swollen shut, it has an impact that much graver injuries lack in literary fiction. The point is the brightness of this world, the wit and the goofy lives they’d lead if not for these circumstances; compromises against the brightness are a natural part of it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ints

    Komiksi ir mana pēdējo laiku (ne to laiku, kas piesaukti Bībelē) aizraušanās. Es burtiski sev esmu atklājis pavisam jaunu lasīšanas pasauli. Vēl neesmu nonācis līdz Betmeniem un citiem supervaroņiem, jo tie man tomēr šķiet nedaudz par bērnišķīgiem un nenopietniem, bet nekad nevar zināt, kur tas novedīs. Šo grāmatu paņēmu tikai tādēļ, ka visos nopietnos komiksu reitingos šis komikss kotējas apbrīnojami augstu. Nācās vien grāmatu pasūtīt un izlasīt. Trīs Bone brālēni Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone, Smi Komiksi ir mana pēdējo laiku (ne to laiku, kas piesaukti Bībelē) aizraušanās. Es burtiski sev esmu atklājis pavisam jaunu lasīšanas pasauli. Vēl neesmu nonācis līdz Betmeniem un citiem supervaroņiem, jo tie man tomēr šķiet nedaudz par bērnišķīgiem un nenopietniem, bet nekad nevar zināt, kur tas novedīs. Šo grāmatu paņēmu tikai tādēļ, ka visos nopietnos komiksu reitingos šis komikss kotējas apbrīnojami augstu. Nācās vien grāmatu pasūtīt un izlasīt. Trīs Bone brālēni Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone, Smiley Bone un Fone Bone pēc padzīšanas nodzimtās Boneville pilsētiņas nonāk tuksnesī. Tur viņiem uzbūk siseņu bars, brālēni ceļi šķiras, un noslēpumainajā Ielejā tie nonāk katra pa savu ceļu. Iesākumā šī ieleja šķiet miera osta, taču tajā mīt spēki, kas ir tikpat seni kā šī pasaule. Atsākas vecās nesaskaņas, Bone brālēni uzzina, ka Ieleja ir slavena ne tikai ar savām Govju skriešanās sacīkstēm, bet arī ar seniem tempļiem, žurkradījumiem, Siseņu pavēlnieku un pūķiem. Fone Bone pieķeršanās noslēpumainajai meitenei Thorn un viņas vecmāmiņai nostāda viņu uz varoņa ceļa. Viņam ar tādu ir jākļūst ja vien viņš vēlas izglābt Ieleju. „Tas nu gan ir viens ķieģelis”, nodomāju, saņemot šo grāmatu. Atšķīris vaļā nodomāju, pie velna te ir tikai melnbaltas bildes? Neslēpšu, man dikti patīk krāsas. Mani sāka mākt aizdomas, ka ar šo tūkstoš trīssimt lapaspušu biezo ķieģeli būšu pamatīgi iepircies. Tomēr atšķirot un sākot lasīt nebija tik traki. Galvenie personāži autoram ir izdevušies labu labie. Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone - uzņēmīgs biznesmenis, kas vienmēr izdomā kādu shēmu, lai apmānītu cilvēkus. Cilvēki dusmojas, taču viņam piemīt līdera talants un ķēriens izmantot situāciju. Tas reizēm rada problēmas un nevajadzīgus piedzīvojumus, bet kas tad tas par ceļojumu bez piedzīvojumiem? Smiley Bone – absolūti bezrūpīgs, vienmēr smēķē cigāru, gatavs parakstīties uz jebkādu avantūru, ar prātu neizceļas, taču nav arī sīkumains. Fone Bone – vissaprātīgākais no brālēniem, viņam rūpa arī citi, viņš nav varoņa materiāls, bet dzīve viņu par tādu padara. Thorn – meitene ar neskaidru pagātni, dīvainiem sapņiem, augusi kopā ar savu vecmāmiņu fermā. Protams, ka viss nemaz nav tik vienkārši. Pasaule ir īsts dārgakmens. Te ir gan vēsture, gan dažādi tās apdzīvotāji. Lord of Locusts vien ir ko vērts, tipisks ļaunā tēls, kas grib atbrīvot senus tumšos spēkus. Viņam patīk skaļi smieties un draudēt visiem ar bojāeju. Žurkradījumi ir asinskāri mošķi ar savu karali Kingdok priekšgalā, tie grib atņemt cilvēku zemes, pie reizes arī labi paēdot. Un vēl pilsētas, ciemi, meži, kalni un lejas. Stāsts sākumā šķiet bērnišķīgs, tāds pusaudžiem domāts, nekā īpaša. Taču, kad ielasās, pēc pārsimts lapaspusēm notiekošais reāli ierauj un nākas atzīt, ka patiesībā šis ir viens episks varoņa ceļš. Ceļš nav pārāk lineārs, un varoņi nemaz nevēlas kļūt par varoņiem. Pretinieki ir nopietni spēlētāji ar saviem motīviem, viņu virsmērķis nebūt nav pasaules iznīcināšana skaļi smejoties (nu, labi, smieties viņi tomēr mīl), viņus vada skaudība, mantkārība, negausība un tieksme pēc varas. Fone Bone tas viss nav vajadzīgs, viņš vienkārši gribētu notīties no šīs ielejas, taču nespēj tā vienkārši pagriezties un visus atstāt. Grāmata lasīšanai nudien nav īsti piemērota, viņa sver pāris kilogramus un ilgstoši turēt rokās ir īsts pārbaudījums. Kaut kā jau tiku ar to galā. Lasīšana notika pāris piegājienos. Beigās gan izlasīju pēdējās piecsimt lapaspuses vienā vakarā, lai uzzinātu kā tas viss beidzās. Lieku 9 no 10 ballēm. Ja patīk ne pārāk asiņaini komiksi ar labām beigām, tad silti iesaku.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Here is a radical statement: this cartoon comic strip is the one thing I have ever read that comes close to the epic fantasy greatness of The Lord of the Rings. What begins as a silly, Looney Tunes-like story about a couple of "bone creatures" getting run out of "Boneville" (sounds pretty childish, huh?) quickly becomes a complex, profound, and - there's no other word for it - EPIC tale about family history, religious cults and a crazy locust monster. The way I see it, epic fantasy authors stumbl Here is a radical statement: this cartoon comic strip is the one thing I have ever read that comes close to the epic fantasy greatness of The Lord of the Rings. What begins as a silly, Looney Tunes-like story about a couple of "bone creatures" getting run out of "Boneville" (sounds pretty childish, huh?) quickly becomes a complex, profound, and - there's no other word for it - EPIC tale about family history, religious cults and a crazy locust monster. The way I see it, epic fantasy authors stumble in one of two ways. They copy Tolkien or they try to come up with something totally different, and neither of these strategies works. Don't ignore Tolkien - he's everything that's great about fantasy. Don't copy Tolkien - you come off like a hack. There's an argument to be made that Smith falls into the category of Tolkien-hack. After all, the Bone creatures are pretty much hobbits, rat creatures are orcs, the Lord of the Locusts is Sauron, and so forth... But there's enough originality within the mythology and system of magic to distinguish it. A cartoon comic strip seems to be ill-suited for high fantasy, but it's not - not by a long shot. Richly detailed pictures take place of richly detailed paragraphs. And the humor is much more subtle and much less slapstick than I expected. Again, humor is something that Tolkien understood and could inject appropriately. You can read four thousand pages of George R.R. Martin and never crack a smile, and that wears on you. Even in the darkest moments of the final chapters of Bone, when there are armies of bad guys surrounding the few good guys, Smith knows where and how to crack a joke to lighten the mood just enough give a little hope. And for goodness' sakes, don't buy the black and white version! Get the full color one volume edition. I know it's expensive, but Smith's panels deserve it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Three cousins - the Bones - are run out of Boneville and get lost in the desert. They wind up in a mysterious valley, where they meet a young girl Thorn and her Grandma Ben and get sucked into an epic adventure of good versus evil, magic, dragons, yokels, talking bugs, and stupid stupid rat creatures. This is such a brilliant graphic novel. A cross between the old Disney comics – think Carl Barks’ Donald & Scrooge McDuck or Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse adventure strips - and Lord of The R Three cousins - the Bones - are run out of Boneville and get lost in the desert. They wind up in a mysterious valley, where they meet a young girl Thorn and her Grandma Ben and get sucked into an epic adventure of good versus evil, magic, dragons, yokels, talking bugs, and stupid stupid rat creatures. This is such a brilliant graphic novel. A cross between the old Disney comics – think Carl Barks’ Donald & Scrooge McDuck or Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse adventure strips - and Lord of The Rings – you wouldn’t think such a thing was possible, but it is and it works really well! The three Bone cousins reference those old Disney comics in their design and character poses as well as their sassy forties(?) American comic book dialogue. Phone Bone is a kind of Mickey Mouse good guy hero; Phoney is the Scrooge McDuck of the gang with his greedy money-making schemes and Smiley is more of Goofy type – but one who plays dumber than he really is. The humans too are nicely designed cartoon characters that reference a more modern nineties Disney style. The inking and the strong graphic black and white design of the panels is beautifully done. But what makes the comic is the banter of the Bone cousins as they go from comedy scenarios to high fantasy adventure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Perri

    The review is for the Bone series 1-9 plus Rose and Tall Tales. I didn't care for the first very juvenile book, though after all it IS a JF series, but glad I persevered. The more I read, the more it grew on me. The characters became more dimensional, the stores became more complex, and I enjoyed the subtle humor and the illustrations. A classic for good reason.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mairita (Marii grāmatplaukts)

    Ja padomā, ka gandrīz izlēmu nelasīt, jo pirmajā brīdī nepatika zīmējumi! Būtu zaudējusi vienu no brīnišķīgākajiem jebkad lasītajiem stāstiem. "Bone" ir lielisks! Visas cilvēciskās īpašības kā uz delnas šajā episkajā stāstā par kādu bijušo karaļvalsti, tās ienaidniekiem un trim nejauši ieklīdušiem Kauliem.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Who am I kidding? I haven't picked this up in three years. Entertaining and I still have it bookmarked halfway through, so may get back to it eventually. Just want to clean up my Currently Reading shelf.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Don Lloyd

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was recommended to a book group I attend and came with a fairly strong recommendation. It's also a book that a lot of people recognize. I was traveling with it and people would see it and say, 'Is that Bone. Cool!' or the like. I guess I've started to think about it as 'The Hobbit' of graphic novels, a long, entertaining read with some compelling characters (and more than one dragon) that is good on its own but suffers in comparision to 'The Lord of the Rings.' Some of the things I lik This book was recommended to a book group I attend and came with a fairly strong recommendation. It's also a book that a lot of people recognize. I was traveling with it and people would see it and say, 'Is that Bone. Cool!' or the like. I guess I've started to think about it as 'The Hobbit' of graphic novels, a long, entertaining read with some compelling characters (and more than one dragon) that is good on its own but suffers in comparision to 'The Lord of the Rings.' Some of the things I like about the book were the contrast between the way the Bones were drawn as opposed to Thorn and other 'realistic' characters, the way the narrative depended on the drawing to move between the waking and dream realities, and the sense of humor of the narrative. I also like the basic storyline, but it begged to be a little bit deeper. So many nice and suggestive things were set up early in the narrative that I wish the Smith had spent a little more time developing them at the end. Still, given the effort and care that obviously went in to this book, it's hard not to admire. Reading Group Update: We had a good discussion on Bone and in general most of the group members enjoyed it. A lot of the discussion revolved around the time and effort it took Jeff Smith to produce this in installments, apparently comic book sized pieces over a period of more than twelve years to a total length of over 1300 pages. Some people wondered whether Smith had the whole story mapped out at the beginning, and while I'm not sure one way or the other, there is clearly a lot of foreshadowing early in the book. We also talked some about the use of Moby Dick, Fone Bone's favorite book, as a reference. Eric, our group's host, found it very appropriate as the novel explores what happens when a person faces the ineffable (the whale), that overwhelming force beyond human understanding. I suppose you can see the Locust as a similar force. I also see for myself an interesting visual reference in the way KinkDok is drawn. He's essentially a huge head on legs, and his head similar to a whales with a large lower mouth and eyes set to the sides and back. The people who didn't like the book seemed to think the details of the narrative were not strong enough. I can see the point, as I wanted more by explanation of what the Crown of Horns is and how it functions in the final release of Mim (not to say too much here). But while the textual narrative might be slim, what Smith is really good at is the development of his characters, especially Thorn, through the visual narrative. Part of how well people appreciated this seemed to depend on their familiarity with and acceptance of comics and graphic novels as opposed to more traditional, text-based stories. Eric talked a good deal about the effects and pacing achieved within the page spread and Smith's use of the gutter (or caesura) for dramatic effect. I really appreciated the range of and inventiveness of Smith's drawing ability, creating a many-textured world in just black and white.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Jeff Smith started the Bone series back in 1994 when I was but a meager ten year old. I can vividly remember going to the grocery store with my Mother and begging her to buy me the latest issue of Disney Adventures. Due to my insistent whining, my Mom finally caved and bought it for me. When I got home and cracked the cover, I eventually made my way to their comics section and gazed upon Fone Bone for the first time. To the best of my knowledge, that was the only exposure to Jeff Smith’s Bonevill Jeff Smith started the Bone series back in 1994 when I was but a meager ten year old. I can vividly remember going to the grocery store with my Mother and begging her to buy me the latest issue of Disney Adventures. Due to my insistent whining, my Mom finally caved and bought it for me. When I got home and cracked the cover, I eventually made my way to their comics section and gazed upon Fone Bone for the first time. To the best of my knowledge, that was the only exposure to Jeff Smith’s Boneville I'd ever received. Years later (19 to be exact), my curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed the complete omnibus from my local library. Outside of this panel, which for whatever reason stuck with me through the years, I knew next to nothing about the character or his story. Fone Bone and his two cousins, Smiley and Phoney, are driven from Boneville following an outlandish scheme involving Phoney's bid for the Mayor. Lost and alone, the three are trying to find their way home. Following an unplanned separation, the Bone cousins will soon embark on an epic journey involving dragons, rat creatures and a simmering conflict that is about to boil over. It took Smith ten long years to fully play out the Bone saga and while he amassed 1,300 + pages, it felt like a quick read. In theory, something that takes that long to write and kills that many trees should not be something you can knock out in a week. However, Smith's storytelling moved it along at such a brisk pace that I hardly noticed how much I was consuming in one sitting. I will say that while I really enjoyed this book, I wouldn't recommend reading the black and white omnibus. While the artwork is still something to admire, the full color versions are that much better. Just looking around online, I spotted a few comparison shots that really show off just how tremendous those colorful pages are. If you can stomach paying the additional cost associated with the full color version, I would recommend choosing that one. Bone is something that will occupy your lap or the arm of your favorite reading chair, not your palms. Hey, if you really want to try and hold this in your hands, don’t blame me if your wrists unexpectedly snap. This is one seriously big book. Smith did divide the epic into 9 separate volumes, all of which are full color and a little easier to grasp. While I did borrow this from the library, it is something I would eventually like to own and I believe the individual volumes may be the best route to go.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    When the Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are chased out of Boneville and into the desert, they think they’re done for. Even worse, a storm of locust separates the cousins, leaving them to wander alone through a strange valley. When winter falls (quite literally), Fone Bone meets up with Thorn, a beautiful young woman, and her grandmother, Rose. Only Gran’ma Rose suspects what the arrival of the Bone cousins means for her granddaughter. Fone Bone is guarded by a mysterious When the Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are chased out of Boneville and into the desert, they think they’re done for. Even worse, a storm of locust separates the cousins, leaving them to wander alone through a strange valley. When winter falls (quite literally), Fone Bone meets up with Thorn, a beautiful young woman, and her grandmother, Rose. Only Gran’ma Rose suspects what the arrival of the Bone cousins means for her granddaughter. Fone Bone is guarded by a mysterious red dragon who has a history with Rose, and Phoney Bone is being hunted by a hooded figure that has the power to invade dreams. This epic fantasy, a mix of Tolkein and Looney Tunes-style characters, takes readers from the lush forests of the valley to the thrilling Great Cow Race between Gran’ma and The Mystery Cow to the echoing depths of Tanen Gard. Thirteen years worth of writing and drawing make up the compilation of Jeff Smith’s incredible work. This edition of Bone compiles the nine books that make up the story arc. Without meaning to, readers will go from one book to another, long after they’ve promised themselves to turn the lights out and go to sleep. The artwork and story blend together perfectly, despite the mix of outrageously cartoonish characters such as the Bone cousins, and the realistic, if not sometimes caricatured people of the valley. The story often relies on humor, but there are touching, serious moments and tense storylines that keep you on the edge of your seat. The single volume will allow readers to see the scope of Smith’s story, from beginning to end. Don’t be discouraged by the heft of the book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Haaike

    Heerlijk! Rare mannetjes met grote neuzen, een oma die met koeien racet, Ted het insect, de stupid, stupid rat creatures, de quiche... en dat samen met een Lord of the Ringsachtig verhaal met gevechten en tovenaars en goed en kwaad. Zo, zo hard genoten!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    all graphic novelists will enjoy this fast paced series

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gerasimos

    Graphic novels were the big revelation of last year for me; I unexpectedly fell in love with them and I've been itching to read more for months. Since I am a fairly new graphic novel fan though, it would only be suitable to read the legendary classics first and Bone is meant to be exactly that. It took me over a month to read (even though I only picked it up a few times during the span of that month and it is basically an omnibus of 9 books) but I absolutely loved every single page of it and fin Graphic novels were the big revelation of last year for me; I unexpectedly fell in love with them and I've been itching to read more for months. Since I am a fairly new graphic novel fan though, it would only be suitable to read the legendary classics first and Bone is meant to be exactly that. It took me over a month to read (even though I only picked it up a few times during the span of that month and it is basically an omnibus of 9 books) but I absolutely loved every single page of it and finishing it I can now see why it is considered a pioneer of the genre and one of the works that established it. Way more intelligent and complex than I expected -- Carl Barks and Don Rosa meets Lord of the Rings and Narnia. Reading it brought back so many memories of the comics I grew up with and I often found myself laughing out loud. It took Jeff Smith more than a decade to finish and experiencing the story all together in one volume you can really see how the genre changed and transformed throughout these ten years. In the later volumes the writing and drawing style becomes more and more creative and revolutionary, bridging the gap between his early influences (Carl Barks, Disney, Lucky Luke, Asterix and Obelix) and the modern graphic novel as it is today. I can definitely see myself re-reading this again in the future.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vedran Karlić

    Nisam imao pojma što me čeka kada sam otvorio prvu stranicu. Posudili su mi izdanje uz preporuku kako je to nešto što moram pročitati. I zbilja, bili su u pravu. Zato ću, prije nego što kažem bilo što drugo, kazati vam istu stvar – preporučam vam ovaj strip, bez obzira kojeg ste uzrasta. Bilo je tu svega i svačega, od epske priče, koja to postaje malo po malo, u početku nemate dojam da će takva biti. Od odličnog crtanja, koje je često vrlo minimalističko, a istovremeno perfektno prikazuje trenuta Nisam imao pojma što me čeka kada sam otvorio prvu stranicu. Posudili su mi izdanje uz preporuku kako je to nešto što moram pročitati. I zbilja, bili su u pravu. Zato ću, prije nego što kažem bilo što drugo, kazati vam istu stvar – preporučam vam ovaj strip, bez obzira kojeg ste uzrasta. Bilo je tu svega i svačega, od epske priče, koja to postaje malo po malo, u početku nemate dojam da će takva biti. Od odličnog crtanja, koje je često vrlo minimalističko, a istovremeno perfektno prikazuje trenutak. Do humora koji će vam izvući osmjeh na lice čak i na veoma grozan dan. Pa sve do sjajne plejade likova koji su veoma životopisni i puni karaktera (Crveni zmaj i Smiley su mi najbolji likovi). Pustolovina, priča, iskustvo koje je u jednom trenutku moralo doći kraju. I baš zato mi je bilo drago kako što je ovo bilo izdanje koje sadržava svih devet poglavlja.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    A lot of modern comics are about mixing fine art techniques into the illustration, and exploring very adult themes (cf the abortion storyline in recent Saga). Many of those books are great, and I'm grateful for them. Bone is refreshing in that it embraces the traditional comic form. The panels are not lock-step, and so you wouldn't see it in the funny pages, but the strong, contrasting lines and stylized characters are at home in the tradition of Walt Kelly and Herriman. That isn't to say the pa A lot of modern comics are about mixing fine art techniques into the illustration, and exploring very adult themes (cf the abortion storyline in recent Saga). Many of those books are great, and I'm grateful for them. Bone is refreshing in that it embraces the traditional comic form. The panels are not lock-step, and so you wouldn't see it in the funny pages, but the strong, contrasting lines and stylized characters are at home in the tradition of Walt Kelly and Herriman. That isn't to say the panels aren't 'art', or that they are anything less than great; they do the job perfectly, and Smith has very clever ways of using the 2-color format. The story is also refreshing in that it is comfortable telling slapstick jokes and eye-rollers amidst the drama (which actually *does* have many adult themes, but more about duty, responsibility, greed, and so on---and they are not held up such that you cannot ignore them. It's subtle.) I think one of the things I appreciate most is the pacing. One of my biggest complaints about modern comics is that they are frenetically paced. I blame the monthly serialization, but I could be wrong. Anyway, in those books, characters are only developed through mass conflict and duress. Fine things to put your characters through, to be sure, but sometimes you learn about a person by the way they relax with a book, or make breakfast, or chide a relation. Bone isn't afraid to breathe and spread out a bit, which is really refreshing. (The last few hundred pages are actually extremely frenetic, but all is forgiven based on what came before). I think a lot of this is possible because Smith self-published this (as I understand it), and probably was beholden to nobody. This collection edition is LONG, and he really uses the space well. I get the impression that Jeff Smith did just what he wanted to with this comic, and it is unique. Why are the Bones so cartoonish, and why do they seem to come from such a different society than the other characters? Why are the humans in the book so realistically rendered in comparison? Only Jeff knows, and all the matters is that it works and it is unlike anything else.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sunil

    Bone is widely considered one of the best graphic novels of all time, but this is no Watchmen or Sandman—it happens to be great and appropriate for children! Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone get kicked out of Boneville. They're not actual bones; apparently they are mammals but very funny-looking ones with big noses. Very cartoony, very Walt Kelly. Don't let that put you off, even if the first few issues are pretty cartoony and silly. The Bones find themselves in a valley full of monsters a Bone is widely considered one of the best graphic novels of all time, but this is no Watchmen or Sandman—it happens to be great and appropriate for children! Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone get kicked out of Boneville. They're not actual bones; apparently they are mammals but very funny-looking ones with big noses. Very cartoony, very Walt Kelly. Don't let that put you off, even if the first few issues are pretty cartoony and silly. The Bones find themselves in a valley full of monsters and magic and are soon drawn into an epic fantasy with the fate of the world at stake. And guess what? Everything from those first few issues matters; there's hardly anything extraneous in this comic, be it plot or character. I grew to love each Bone in some way. Fone Bone, of course, is the audience surrogate, the regular guy who has to put up with his cousins and has a good heart, and he has the most character growth. Phoney Bone is constantly scamming people for money, and you have to admire his dedication to his One Motivation when he even goes out of his way to steal treasure in the middle of the epic showdown between good and evil. Smiley Bone is the dimwitted goofball whose loyalty to his family makes him more endearing than irritating. But there are so many other characters to like! Thorn is introduced as a simple farm girl that Fone Bone immediately falls in love with, but there's much, much more to her than that, and her Gran'ma Ben is a friggin' badass who punches monsters in the face and outruns a herd of cows. Lucius the burly bartender sees through Phoney's scams. Ted the Bug is a bug. And then there are the two stupid rat creatures, one of whom always wants a quiche. Jeff Smith manages to tell a 1300-page epic fantasy while also spending dozens of pages on something called The Great Cow Race, and that right there is the magic of Bone. The book clearly evokes The Lord of the Rings at times, with its shadowy villains, portentous prophecies, and lots of walking from location to location. But Smith uses much more humor, sometimes even the old slapstick gag of "Oh, look at you, monster, you ate our friend, can you spit him out please?" It's an impressive tonal balance, especially in the latter half of the book, where the epic fantasy elements begin to take over, with lots of magical hoo-hah and danger and death and darkness (even in darkness, there is room for a quiche joke). Also unlike Tolkien, who would favor the burly bartender, Smith puts the focus on Thorn and Gran'ma Ben, which is refreshing as hell. The black-and-white art works well, though I imagine some scenes would be easier to parse in color (for instance, I couldn't actually differentiate the two stupid rat creatures visually). What's neat is how varied it is. The Bones are cartoony, but everyone else is drawn fairly realistically, which makes them stand out all the more; they don't belong. I marveled at how much Smith could do with Thorn's facial expressions. He also uses lettering to great effect. Though the layouts are fairly standard, I did like how he clearly marked dream sequences with special paneling. It took me a few issues to get into Bone, but once I identified the main story apart from the initial antics, I became more interested. Smith shows us the villains' side as well, which adds to the tension. It's a book full of surprise and charm, and even if it gets a little too Fantasy in the last third, it remains a compelling read all the way through its pretty satisfying conclusion.

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