Released: July, 2004
The award winning comic book Bone has finally been collected into one large volume (apparently available for only a short period of time) and anyone unfamiliar with Jeff Smith's work is in for a treat. Set plenty of time aside however, since the book comes in at over 1300 pages – every one of which is a joy to look at. There's more to it than looks however – Smith has managed to combine the artistic skills of Walt Kelly (Pogo), Shultz (Peanuts) and many of the old Disney animators, with intricate Tolkeinesque fantasy settings and plotting. What starts out simply with the Bone cousins getting run out of their hometown and wandering into a mysterious valley soon leads to danger and adventure with a cast of likeable and well rounded characters. That's not to say it's a po-faced tale – there are a great many moments of silliness and slapstick humour amidst the darker moments, with Smith's old animation skills showing his impeccable visual timing. Cow racing Ö rat creatures with a taste for quiche Ö plucky heroines destined for great things Ö large dragons and equally large lions – this book has the lot, and it's all told in a way that makes great use of black and white (Work has started on colouring all the books, but perhaps some of the charm of the art will be lost – we'll just have to wait and see), and what should seem unworkable, placing the cartoon styled bone cousins among the more realistically rendered inhabitants of the village only adds to the charm of it all, such is the skill with which Smith tells his tale. And what a tale it is! It's not hard to see why it took Smith 12 years to complete it and the 9 Harvey awards, 9 Eisner awards and countless others worldwide are a testament to it's popularity with critics and readers alike.
If you're looking for something to read over the coming winter months, I heartily recommend Bone. The One Volume edition is great value for money – I managed to pick mine up from an Amazon Marketplace trader brand new for around 17 pounds delivered. Amazing value for money considering each of the original books were about 9 pounds each! What are you waiting for? Stop reading and start ordering Ö