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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!”
Top customer reviews
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The story is awesome. The artwork is amazing. Smith is funny and clever but the endearing plucks to your heartstrings are what will really bring this book alive. I've let five people read it over the years and everyone has the same initial reaction; "this is a kid's book," and the same final reaction, "this was one of the best books I've ever read." Even people who don't read comics love this book. If you're a reader of epics, don't let the cutesy first impressions deter you from reading this book. Once it's underway, you'll be glad you jumped in. On that note, buy it and lend it. Because it falls out of normal circles, I don't think it ever got the recommendation attention it deserves.
As for the item itself, it's a great big rectangle of impressive angles. It's massive, but somehow they got the proportions right, as it's not a pain to hold while reading. It doesn't close on itself or anything. I have a few other books where they made the book dimensions larger to decrease page size, and what you get is long, hard-to-turn, easy-to-rip pages. This is far better.
The story is told in both lighthearted and mature tones, weaving several elements of folklore and mythology into a fleshy story and with a setting that feels real, despite the seemingly cartoony artwork. Smith's artwork is fantastic, it conjures the 'funny animal' aesthetics of Walt Kelley and Carl Barks while also featuring wonderfully designed human characters in a style reminiscent of Will Eisner's. The inking is also top-notch, and this book is best read in the original black-and-white as it helps fuel the composition and maintains clarity between characters and the environments they're drawn into.
The only complaint I have has nothing to do with the artwork or writing, but rather the quality of the print and paper. The paper is very thin and makes many of the rich black and white pages feel a bit muddy because you can see the artwork on the next page bleeding in. It's a concession I imagine had to be done to get the entire 1300 pages into a single volume, but it does distract from the experience a bit.
I've already gone back and revisited my favorite parts of this book several times, if you like quality cartooning and comics, this is an absolute essential.
BONE is what happens when worlds collide. More specifically (and maybe a little less dramatically), BONE is what happens when some folks escape angry mobs in their town, wander through the desert endlessly, and stumble upon another, more magical land. The first thing readers will notice about BONE is that it feels like a strange mash-up of two different concepts. The silly, bald Bone characters from the modern town of Boneville are completely different from the high-fantasy humans they meet on their adventures. There is a feeling of cross-over, a blending of setting and time, a comical and bizarre mish-mash of total opposites-- and it feels like a match made in heaven. Strangers in a strange land have never been, well, stranger.
BONE is an epic fantasy. Don't let the big-nosed, doofy protagonist throw you off. There are loads of light-hearted laughs and feel-good comical moments, but there are also waves of intense dialogue, dramatic sequences, and good ol' baddie butt-kicking. The story is surprisingly dense, with many layers that lift and reveal the next great arch. There are some serious surprises. A sense of mystery and magic lingers around some characters and events, reminding the reader that this is a dark and different world. Tense moments are interrupted by hilarious antics, silly exchanges between characters, and great visual gags by the talented hand of Jeff Smith.
The characters (all of them, every one) are dynamic and lovable. Even the bad guys. Seriously. Bone has a pretty big cast of reoccurring minor and major characters, but Smith manages to breath a sense of consistency and personality into each and every one. They are all individuals that densely populate a sometimes beautiful, sometimes scary, but nonetheless interesting world.
The world feels classic and timeless at first glance, but it is filled with its own set of unique twists and turns. The innocent beauty of idyllic forests and quaint villages masks the dark and strange happenings beneath the surface.
The story? Well... I'll let you handle that one on your own. I wouldn't want to give anything away. But trust me, it's weird and wonderful.
Although I first read BONE as a child, I definitely still enjoyed it as an adult-- and not just for the nostalgia factor either! If you are a fan of graphic novels and comics, or you just want to try something new, grab a copy of BONE and settle in for an adventure!
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