One Shots: Bone: One Volume Edition


This book is the stuff of indie comic legend. It’s been around forever, surviving, pushing, continuing and living since the early 90’s, and that is no mean feat. I’d been aware of Bone ever since I got back into comics while I was in college in 1997. It was a thing I noticed once. It looked like some nice cartoons. Then when I noticed it over and over again, in more places, I realized that it was bigger than just another book. In fact, it was so big that I shied away from it, figuring it was too big of a mountain to climb. Then about four years ago, I decided to buy the first collection. It was the first of many, and I thought, if it grabs me, I’ll be inclined to finish the story. I’ll tell you the truth. It didn’t grab me. It was cute. It was fun, and I really liked the drawing, but I’ll be honest; it felt more like a cartoon from my youth, which I can appreciate, and enjoy, but wasn’t really compelling me to continue, and the ten or so graphic novels that followed were also making me shy away.

Then there’s now. I heard there was a collection of the entire Bone saga in one easy to read (albeit heavy) volume. I briefly met creator, Jeff Smith at the San Diego convention a few years back, and my friends and I always noted how particularly friendly and engaging he was, even in the middle of being constantly harangued for sketches and autographs. He was genuinely nice, and that always stuck with me. So I think for that reason more than any other, I decided I would pick up the Bone volume and really give it a fair shot.

oneshotsbone.jpgIt’s both difficult and simple to explain Bone. I can’t do it much justice here, but basically, it’s a story about 3 small creatures, cousins, who are Bones, from Boneville. They somehow get run out of town, and get lost, and end up in a valley far far away. They meet some people, and then odd things start to happen. Clearly there is a story behind everything that is going on, but Smith takes his time dropping clues and puzzle pieces in what must have been agonizing slow torture for the monthly readers of his book. I can’t and won’t explain the plot any further than that, except to say that it’s a giant story, with all the best fantasy elements. I mean it as a compliment to say that there are parallels with the original Star Wars mythology, and a helping of The Lord of the Rings, and the idea that there is one savior of a character, whose true identity and power is hidden from them, and they will make a difference in the world, and possibly have a hand in saving it. And this all takes place in quaint, small, imaginative environs, but the story gets bigger with every page you turn. If you’re willing to let yourself go, and be sucked into it, it’s a fantastic and fun story. And just when it seems to be a bit familiar, he stirs the pot with a little his own imagination and ingenuity. It’s a great trip, and it truly is a page turner.

There’s no point commenting on the art as far as I’m concerned. Jeff Smith chose to master the art of the cartoon in the style of Disney and Carl Barks, and he’s nailed it. The pictures are simple, yet alive and breathing, and they excite you at the same time as they tell the story. With a few smooth round lines, or a dangle or the head, or line for the eye drawn just so, it’s clear what any Bone is thinking, and it’s a complete success in the field of cartooning. And when it needs to be big and evocative, it’s just that.

It’s just so clear that Jeff Smith loves creating this story, and he was committed to doing it right. There was no point when he strayed from the story or did anything that wasn’t necessary. It’s really a classic and important work in the history of comics. And I’m so glad he’s put it all together so you can read right through the story, in as few sittings as you’d like.

-Josh Flanagan


  1. Hmmm…

  2. I’ve read “Bone” and the few issues I read I did enjoy them. I decided to revisit the site just for the…er…fun of it. Good job, boys!