Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reviews from the Kids Section: Bone #1 "Out From Boneville"

Many of the books I have been reading recently have been both phenomenal and slightly sad. In response to this I found myself searching for a quality comic that will cheer me up. I then happened to be walking around the Lakeview neighborhood with my sisters when we came upon Chicago Comics. I had been meaning to come to this shop for some time and I was not disappointed, I'll be writing about it soon. Among their many different volumes I chose to look at the kids section for something to read. I saw "Bone" and after a brief flip-though I decided this was the book to cheer me up. Thankfully it did. The 'Bone" series, which ran from 1991-2004, was written and drawn by Jeff Smith.

Bone is the story of three humanoid creatures called bones, all cousins, who have recently been chased out of Boneville after a recent scandal. Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone find themselves in a desert with a lack of direction. They become separated and Fone Bone winds up in a lush forest valley home to both humans, large furry monsters called rat creatures, and a large red dragon that seems to be protecting Fone Bone. Fone Bone soon meets Thorn, a beautiful girl, and her grandmother Rose. Bone kindles a friendship while looking for his cousins. Fone's cousins are slightly less fortunate in the valley, Phoney begins to plot a scheme to dupe the villagers out of their possessions while being stalked by both the rat creatures and a ghoulish cloaked figure while Smiley becomes indentured to an innkeeper for several mugs of ale. The first book sets a good exposition for the many books that follow while being enjoyable on its own.

Smith's characters, while none so far are particularly three dimensional, play off each others archetypes well. Phoney is a miserly bone and enjoys saying that he was the richest bone in Boneville. He sees everything as something he can either buy or scam from others. Smiley is a fun loving wisecracker who sees his penniless state as freedom from responsibility. Fone Bone is the main protagonist and values kindness and intelligence as he often recites his love for "Moby Dick". The three bones go together well with smiley irritating Phoney and Fone trying to keep everyone together while preventing Phoney's schemes.

The art, as one would expect, is very kid friendly. With thick black outlines and vibrant colors, one is easily reminded of newspaper comics constructed into a long narrative. The tone is toony, bright, and at times intimidating, particularly with the rat creatures who walk the line between scary and humorous. Between his words and his art Jeff Smith created a wonderful children fantasy unlike any I have seen before. Although its status as a kids book, Bone is timeless and enjoyable for everyone. I would easily suggest this series for someone of any age who wish to become interested in comics.

-Peter