Bone: Rose

Reviewed: December 13, 2009
By: story by Jeff Smith / illustrations by Charles Vess
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic)
138 pages, $13.99

Rose is the graphic novel prequel to the nine volume Bone saga, which originally appeared in black and white format as individual comic books between 1991 and 2004. Rose was originally published as a three volume colour mini-series between 2000 and 2002. After the series concluded it was picked up by Scholastic’s new Graphix imprint and nine volumes of the main story (all 1392 pages) were reissued in versions coloured by Steve Hamaker, who has been nominated for seveal awards for his work on this series.

Rose takes place many years before we meet the exiled Bone brothers. It involves two sisters, Rose and Briar, princesses who follow distinctly different paths in life. Seeking power, Briar allies herself with the eveil rat creatures who have invaded her parents’ kingdom, and pays a heavy price for her treachery.

Rose is written and drawn is a style more appropriate for older readers. The Bone books were more cartoony, bringing to mind both the work of Walt Kelly (Pogo) and Karl Barks (Uncle Scrooge), and more humourous. Rose’s does, however. explain a lot of what created the widescreen conflict at the heart of the larger Bone saga. While it comes first chronologically, it is probably best read after having read everything else.