Story Arc: Out from Boneville
Writer(s): Jeff Smith.
Artist(s): Jeff Smith.
Colourist(s): Steve Hamaker.
Release Date: February 1st, 2005 (first published July 3rd, 1991).
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
It can be quite shocking when you realize that you’ve been tossed into the middle of a magnificent epic war against evil while you’re just out there trying to eat a delicious breakfast and figuring out where you could find the love of your life. Granted that everything has its place and time, there are certain issues that demand to be addressed much sooner than later. Such as lost cousins, giant sharp-toothed rats, guardian dragons, and a mean-looking granny. Originally self-published in black white from 1991 to 2004 and winner of multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards, it is only in 2005 that publisher Scholastic obtained the rights to publish the comic book series with Steve Hamaker’s colours in nine volumes which later spawned a prequel and sequel.
What is Bone: Out from Boneville about? Kicked out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins find themselves on a wild adventure as they are separated and lost in an uncharted desert. As they wander the odd and mysterious lands, they encounter strange rat creatures who are on the hunt for the one with the starred chest (Phoney Bone, the greedy and selfish one of the three cousins). Meanwhile, Fone Bone runs into Gran’ma Ben and her beautiful granddaughter as he tries to win the latter’s heart and find a way to get in touch with his two other cousins. After all, Smiley Bone is nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, there are far graver dangers on the horizon that are right on their tails and it’s nothing to be excited about.
Heavily focused on slapstick comedy and wrapped within an epic fantasy tale which only the reader could acknowledge as the characters remains oblivious to the universe in which they get lost in, the story doesn’t necessarily take any form until much later into the narrative. It is only upon the introduction of Thorn, Gran’ma Ben, and the other mystical creatures that a certain overarching narrative is observable. What creator Jeff Smith accomplishes with this first volume is establishing the tone and direction of his comic book series, assuring the reader that they are in for an adventure filled with whimsical and humourous elements. While the comedy might not always hit the mark, the best parts of this series, however, remains the banter, especially those involving the nonsensical cousins.
The artwork is incredibly clean and every character is clearly distinguishable in each panel. This can easily be explained by the original black and white artwork which didn’t look into playing with gradients but strived to illustrate scenes as vividly as possible. The black contouring and the prominence of certain elements (e.g. characters) in each panel also make it easy to follow the development of events without a single hint of confusion. Following a much more traditional panel structure, with giant squares that rarely ever overlap, creator Jeff Smith was able to deliver his story efficiently while giving the overall volume an enchanted and mythical layer that is bound to grow stronger and much more important over the course of the following volumes.
Bone: Out from Boneville is an enjoyable and droll fantasy adventure featuring three silly Bone cousins lost in a magical world.