Out From BonevillePaperback - 2003
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I’d like to tell you a story. It’s about a trio of strange little creatures called the Bones. There’s Fone Bone, a stout-hearted fellow who always tries to do what’s right; his cousin, Phoncible Bone (called Phoney), who always tries to do what will get him rich, and his other cousin, Smiley Bone, who’s goofy demeanor hides a wise and kind character. These three companions are exiled from their home, and become caught up in events that are far bigger than they could have ever dreamed.
I’d like to tell you that story, but I would never be able to better than Jeff Smith, the creator of the comic series Bone, which is available in graphic novel form at the ELPL.
With elegantly simple lines, Smith brings to life not just the strange Bone creatures, but all the humans, animals, and other inhabitants of The Valley, a seemingly idyllic place where the Bones end up after they are run out of their town. There they meet the young girl Thorn, and Gran’ma Ben and the rest of the villagers of Barrelhaven. While all the cousins want is to get back home, they soon find themselves part of an epic struggle for the fate of the valley, and lands beyond. Smith fills his characters with fears, desires, quirks and flaws, yet there is reason to find sympathy with every one of them.
The tale is told in nine volumes, although there are three additional books which feature the same characters. The one titled Coda can be ignored, as it doesn’t really contribute anything but a semi-humorous look at an additional adventure the trio has outside the main story, and is accompanied by a sort of history and “making of” essay. Think of it as a bonus disc that comes with a DVD. The next book not in the main series is called Tall Tales, and features Smiley Bone telling folktales of the Bone universe. It’s cute, and funny, but again, not necessary to get the full Bone experience.
The final book in saga of these characters is called Rose, and should certainly be read after finishing Vol. 9. It is a prequel story, telling of the youth of Gran’ma Ben, but will certainly spoil several dramatic reveals if read first. But it should absolutely be read. For that volume Smith turned the art duties over to Charles Vess, who’s lush and vivid colors bring even more of a fairy-tale feeling to the story.
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