Reviewed: September 4, 2007
By: Jeff Smith
Publisher: Cartoon Books
1332 pages, $46.00
between Duckburg and the Okefenokee Swamp lies a little town called Boneville,
and a few days journey from that, if you happen to be fleeing from an angry
mob, lies the land between the mountains where rat creatures menace the rustic
inhabitants and the Locust plots its return to power and destroy humanity.
quickly that got weird? I started out that way because Jeff Smith's art work
reminds me somewhat of the styles of both Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge) and Walt
Kelly (Pogo). This saga, which stretches well over 1,300 pages, begins in a
kind of comic way, being the slapstick adventures of a trio of political
outcasts, but before you get too far into the story you find yourself heading
deeply into Lord of the Rings territory.
boys, Phone, Phoney and Smiley, have had to flee Boneville because of Phoney's
disastrous foray into politics. Phoney is the catalyst for a lot of the crazy
stuff that happens in this story, but that's the comic relief. The lovable,
naive Phone Bone is the heart of the story. The impossible love story between
him and Thorn, the forest lass who turns
to be a princess, provides a totally different balance for the story as
does his obsession with the Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick.
princess, living with her tough as nails Gran’ma Ben (shades of Al Capp's
Granny Yokum or maybe Popeye), eventually comes to seem a little bit like Luke
Skywalker hiding out on Tatooine.
But all of
this creeps up on you. Before you meet the Locust and his plans, you experience
the madness of the Great Cow Race. Before you enter into a state of all-out war
between good and evil you get the slapstick battle between Phoney and Lucius
for control of the local bar, the Barrel-Haven. Before you meet the dangers in
the second half of the novel, you meet the Red Dragon, a droll giant who seems
to turn up just in time to save the day and invariably provide a visual punch
From 1991 to
2004 Smith produced 55 irregularly published black and white issues of Bone,
collecting ten Eisner Awards and eleven Harvey Awards along the way. These were
collected into nine trade paperback collections over the years and eventually
into this one massive volume, roughly the size of the Toronto telephone book.
history is not yet complete. Realizing that here was a story that would appeal
across the generations, Scholastic Books negotiated with Smith to issue
colourized (colour by Steve Hamaker) versions of the individual volumes under
their Graphix imprint,and are currently up to volume 6 , after which the
industry scuttlebutt is that there will be another one volume collection of the
can also pick up coffee table sized book The Art of Bone (from Dark
Horse Comics) a recent release of conceptual sketches, art influences, pencil
versions, alternate covers, finished panel pages, completed, full color covers,
unfinished panel sequences, rare sketches, pencil versions of completed covers,
etc. This is getting rave reviews.
you’re really nuts about this, but want people to think you’re actually
working, apparently the strip will soon be available, a panel at a time for
display on the screen of your cellphone. There are also video games for both
the PC and Mac platforms.
Bone hasn’t invaded yet is the movies. It would be a great animated film
series, but Smith turned down an offer from Nickelodeon Films back in the
1990s, repulsed by the idea that the music for the production would include
songs by Britney Spears and N-Sync.