I haven’t done a review for a while, so I thought I’d do something a little bit different. A week or so back, a friend loaned me the complete BONE graphic novel.
This is one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. Not only have I done very little reading in the graphic novel genre, but I’ve heard a lot of very good things about this one. I remember a friend reading issues from the then-serialized comic back during my freshman year of college. It was something of an underground hit that went mainstream, and all of the issues—some ten years worth, or 1300 pages—were released in a single volume a couple of years back.
It’s a very interesting read. It’s something of a cross between an old Loony Tunes cartoon and a serious, epic fantasy novel. It’s about a group of three ‘Bones’ from ‘Boneville’ who get lost and end up in a kingdom far from home, then get caught up in an epic struggle between good and evil.
It owes a lot to Lord of the Rings. However, much of the writing is excellent, and there’s some fairly decent original worldbuilding. This is fascinating for me, because these are things that I don’t immediately associate with comic books. I know that I’m not doing them justice—and I’m sure there are lots of very excellent ones out there. However, I was surprised to read one that felt so much like a traditional epic fantasy, all be it one with three cartoony characters mixed in with the rest of the medieval-style fantasy cast.
I felt that the story broke down a tad near the ending. There were a couple of points where the plotting seemed forced, and I have quibbles with the resolution of a few climaxes. However, I find I must give a great amount of credit to the author—an independent artist named Jeff Smith. He not only did this virtually on his own, but managed to release something serialized that he could never change, had to plot and pace over ten years time, and had to bring together into one massive story at the end.
The restraints of the medium considered, he did an excellent job. There’s a good mixture of humor, pacing, and action—even if the character arcs of most of the characters are a tad weak. All and all, I can see why this has been named as one of the top ten graphic novels of our time.