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Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume Paperback – September, 2004
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*Starred Review* Mere months after publishing the final installment of the long-running fantasy saga Bone, Smith collects all 13 years' worth of it in a single, massive volume. As many comics fans know, the series chronicles the adventures of the Bone cousins--plucky Fone Bone, scheming Phony Bone, and easygoing Smiley Bone-- who leave their home of Boneville and are swept up in a Tolkienesque epic of royalty, dragons, and unspeakable evil forces out to conquer humankind. The compilation makes it evident how fully formed Smith's vision was from the very beginning--although the early chapters emphasized comedy, as do the final pages, the tale quickly found its dramatic bearings. His remarkably accomplished drawing style, in the manner of such comics masters as Walt Kelly and Carl Barks, was fully formed from the start, too. Libraries that have missed out on individual Bone series titles should seize this opportunity to make up for the fact, and those who have collected the series all along will do well to acquire the collected edition to supplement or supplant those doubtless well-worn volumes. But be prepared for overdues: even the most voracious readers will be hard-pressed to get through this hefty, phone book-like tome before they're supposed to return it. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Time Magazine: One of the Ten Greatest Grapic Novels of all Time
Publisher's Weekly: Best Book LIst
The Comics Journal: Book of the Year
American Library Association: Top 25 Graphic Novels for Young Adults
Better Homes and Gardens: 'Must Read' list
BONE combines the humor and look of early Disney movies with the scope of the Lord of the Rings cycle. While children will read BONE for its breathless adventure and sight gags, older kids and adults will appreciate the themes of blind fanaticism and corrupting power.”
BONE is storytelling at its best, full of endearing, flawed characters whose adventures run the gamut from hilarious whimsy to thrilling drama. Along the way, Smith’s musings take on a greater relevance than you’d ever expect. Grade: A.”
"Charming, character-driven fantasy with an elegant design and masterful story-telling in the tradition of Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz and Carl Barks." (starred review)
"Like Pogo, BONE has a whimsy best appreciated by adults, yet kids can enjoy it, too; and like Barks’ Donald Duck stories, BONE moves from brash humor to gripping adventure in a single panel."
Neil Gaiman (author of The Graveyard Book and Sandman)
"Jeff Smith can pace a joke better than almost anyone in comics; his dialogue is delightfulso are all his people, not to mention his animals, his villains, and even his bugs."
Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons)
"I love BONE! BONE is great!”
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I'm sad that I had to finish this wonderfully crafted story, and I'm sad to have to put it on my bookshelf. I had wanted there to be more to the story, 'cause once I started reading it, I was hooked. I even read two of the seven books in one night.
And so it is for many Bone fans.
Jeff Smith's tale about three funny-looking "bone" creatures begins as with any other "typical" fantasy novel: light-hearted and simple. It's the story about three Bone cousins having just been chased out of their hometown by an angry mob. They get lost out in the seemingly endless wilderness, and, soon enough, delve upon a forest where the first of many awaiting adventures begins.
Bone is often compared to The Lord of the Rings; appropriately so, because Jeff Smith was heavily inspired by Tolkien's six-part story (not a three-part as many believe), and so created his own fantasy epic with a twist of humor and wild (and ingenious) animation, utilizing doodles he mustered up from his childhood imagination.
Right from the get-go, I was hooked (as I already mentioned). I enjoyed every page I read, from the clever humor to the prolific story-telling, Bone quickly became one of my favorite reads. I have read reviews where others believe Bone heavily carries many common motifs and cliches found in other fantasy stories, and I can see why they might come to these conclusions. But as "unoriginal" as Bone might appear, I believe Smith, just as with any other author, was inspired enough to borrow from other masterpieces and, in an original fashion, created his own powerful storytelling. Sure, there are the archetypal would-be heroes who don't initially know their own destiny, but it's a joy to watch them grow and have the reader grow with them. It's as Roland Barthes argued in developing the "scriptor," where no author creates his or her own masterpiece out of thin air (at least, not any longer), but rather uses pieces here and there from other literary sources and creates their own original tale.
Smith's animation is some of the best I've seen in any medium. As a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, I was quickly enamored with his characters and humor, as both authors have been students of Walt Kelly's Pogo.
I recommend this not only as a graphical joyride, but for anyone who enjoys good stories. Just because it's animated doesn't mean it isn't good literature. I rank this story up there with Lord of the Rings, Narnia and Harry Potter.
Yes, I just said that.
Others might feel otherwise, but I'll remain firm in my opinion, and cherish Bone as one of my most beloved fictional reads.
Just as an end note, I have the rare, hardcover limited version of Bone: One Volume Edition. It is a wonderfully manufactured piece of literature. From the sturdy covers to the gilded pages, and even the ribbon bookmark, I am the proud owner of one of the highly collectible hardcovers, and believe it's worth every penny. (Since only 2000 were made, they're practically impossible to find; but when one chances to pop up on eBay or some other website, you can be sure it'll be going for a pretty penny.)
The artwork is beautiful, all rendered in black and white line drawings. It has a cartoony feel to it, but it fits the feel and pace of the story. The dialogue is well written, the characters are fleshed out and believable and the flow of the narrative is perfect. I really can't recommend this more.