Tuesday, 9 December 2008

‘Bone: Out from Boneville’ – Jeff Smith

One of the great things about comic books and graphic novels is that the old ‘never judge a book by its cover’ saying doesn’t really apply here. The artwork is such a fundamental part of the medium that you’ll have a fair idea of how much you’ll enjoy the story just by what’s on the cover (although, obviously, the story matters as well!)
The cover for ‘Out of Boneville’ looked like a real cross between something that doesn’t take itself too seriously and something that takes itself very seriously indeed. This was an intriguing mixture to me so I thought I’d give the book a go. There’s also the fact that ‘Bone’ is one of those series that inevitably crops up whenever there’s a ‘What’s a really good comic book series?’ so I knew that I’d be checking this one out sooner or later! As luck would have it, I found the first three books cheap in Forbidden Planet and polished off ‘Out of Boneville’ last night, it was brilliant...

Things kick off with three cousins (regular guy Fone Bone, scam artist Phoney Bone and slightly dopey Smiley Bone) having been run out of town and who are now lost in the desert. A swarm of locusts separates the trio and Fone Bone finds himself in a mysterious valley where bugs talk and rat creatures lurk in the shadows. The first thing Fone Bone needs to do is find his cousins, the second thing is to get out of the valley (and home) before winter sets in. Both are easier said than done (especially given the speed that winter sets in, that bit really made me laugh!)

Given that I’ve only read the first book so far, it’s hard to tell what the series is going to be about. As far as ‘Out of Boneville’ itself goes, what we have is a ‘three friends from the modern world suddenly find themselves in Fantasy Land’ tale with a great many introductions and foreshadowing’s that set things up for the future. What we also get is a plot line that moves things forwards while all the introductions and foreshadowing’s are going on. There is a definite point to the plot and our hero cannot afford to sit around and do nothing in the meantime.

The plot had plenty of hooks that kept me reading and will probably keep me reading for the rest of the series. What really got me though was the humour of the story (both visual and plot related) which led my wife to ask me what was so funny as I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the book. The more whimsical nature of the story also really got me. While there is a ‘Dark Lord’ lurking in the background Jeff Smith places equal importance on Bone babysitting the Possum kids and it’s this kind of approach that really kept my interest. It feels like anything could happen...

The artwork is absolutely gorgeous as well with plenty of detail to get lost in and some beautiful colouring. I heard that the series used to be ‘black and white’ and if this is the case then I’m glad that they’ve decided to reissue these books in colour! :o)

2008 has been the year of me discovering very cool comic books and it looks like I may be rounding things off with the best comic book yet. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this story takes me next...

Ten out of Ten


Marc said...

Bone rules, it is a great story mixed with good art. It indeed has been available primarily in black and white for the most part. If you want to be able to read it all at once, there is a massive one volume compendium that retails for around $40US, but is only in the original black and white.

Graeme, I hope you keep reading and keep enjoying Bone!

Graeme Flory said...

Hey Marc,

I had the option to buy the one volume edition but decided to go down the colour route instead, I think I made the right choice! :o)

I've got two more volumes to read but I can certainly see myself buying the rest :o)