Jeff Smith’s Bone is one of the best comics of all time. It transcends being a mere comic book and is one of the best fantasy epics ever, up there with Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter. This needs to be pop culture, I want to geek out about it and have 30 minute conversations about Bone with complete strangers. Bone is the epic saga of three cousins trying to find their way home, and stumble into a hero’s journey complete with princesses, dragons, rat creatures, ghost circles and magic. It’s one of those immersive imaginary worlds that requires a map in the back of the book. That’s a sign of quality for literary epics. It is hysterically funny at times, but can turn dark and scary in a moment’s notice.
Fone Bone is the main character, the one that you relate to, the everyman. He’s got a good heart, likes to read Moby Dick, and tries to keep his cousin Phoney Bone out of trouble. Phoney is greedy, manipulative, and always plotting. His exploits got the three cousins kicked out of Boneville. He thinks of himself first and foremost, but genuinely cares about his cousins. Smiley Bone rounds out the trio, he is the comic relief. He is simple and acts dumber than he is, but occasionally has some brilliant ideas. So the three Bones from Boneville are forced to flee some angry townspeople and find themselves lost and separated in a mysterious Valley.
The Valley is where the bulk of the story takes place. You never actually see Boneville, but you can assume it is modern because they have books like Moby Dick, a CornDogHut, and paper currency. The Valley seems to be stuck in the past. There’s a tavern, an economy based on eggs and goods rather than money, and seems medieval. The Valley is home to a village populated by people called Barrelhaven, a few isolated farms, and talking creatures like Ted the Bug, Miz ‘Possum and her kids, and a giant mountain lion named Roque Ja who guards the Eastern Boarder.
Fone Bone gets separated from his cousins and eventually befriends and stays with Thorn Harvestar, a gorgeous, generous girl and her tough as nails grandma, who goes by Rose or Gran’ma. Not to spoil anything, but Gran’ma Rose just might be a usurped Queen with a hidden past. Fone develops a crush on Thorn, and you can’t blame him, ‘cause she’s smoking hot. And nice to him. Anyway, Smiley and Phoney Bone end up in Barrelhaven, and they meet some of the locals down there. Eventually everyone meets up again and the Bones go back home to Boneville.
But before that happens, strange things begin happening in the Valley. Dragons show up. Rat creatures show up. The king of the rat creatures shows up. The evil Lord of the Locusts shows up. Add a whole backstory of ghost circles, and the power of the Dreaming, and mysterious cults, and dragon origin stories and you have yourself an amazing fantasy epic. If you like Lord of the Rings but wish it was funnier, than this is the comic for you.
It is unlike any other comic. This is one of the few graphic novels that changes people’s minds about what a comic can do. It transcends boundaries. At the heart of the story is your basic Hero’s Quest, but Jeff Smith does what you’re supposed to and created his own unique universe. One that’s unique but familiar. It goes from funny to sad in a heartbeat. The panels create the illusion of movement and pacing. It’s almost like a movie on paper.
Go out and read this book. I think you are a decent human being and I want you to be happy. This comic will make your life a little better. You owe it to yourself to see what I’m talking about. There is a $40 book that has all 9 volumes in it. The artwork is in black and white, just a heads up. It doesn’t take anything away from it. The first few volumes have color versions, but they haven’t published the whole saga in color yet. Go read it if you haven’t, you won’t regret it.
Critically Rated at 16/17