Bone: Gateway to a love of graphic novels

Bone: Gateway to a love of graphic novels

Max Prado


Do you remember being in elementary and the Scholastic Fair would come? It was a magical event, you knew the book or item you wanted might’ve been there and you had the money for it.

The familiar smell of the library, the feeling of the worn carpet under your shoes, and the excitement of seeing the thing you’ve wanted available just for you. For me, that book was Bone. I used to judge books by their cover and Bone was unique. The cover showed the main character looking in the dark with an ominous figure behind him watching. This cover managed to intrigue me so much that it became one of my favorite comics. Bone was the comic that introduced me to my new love for comics and it’s one of the best pieces of media to have ever been made. 

The story’s plot is rather simple in the beginning and gets more complicated. It begins with our 3 main characters Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone. They’re all cousins and we see them in the desert after helping Phoney Bone escape their home of Boneville after his campaign for mayor goes horribly wrong. They are separated after a huge sea of locusts spreads them out and drops them into a valley. They meet up in Barrelhaven and befriend Thorn, her grandmother, Grandma Ben, and the local bartender, Lucius. We stay with these characters until the end and we follow everyone’s story as some characters leave to go on their own path to reunite with their friends. In the beginning, the story is very fun, plenty of comedy provided by the Bones and shenanigans that they get in.

But as the story progresses it turns from more of a lighthearted story with occasional dark moments of reality into a dark fantasy with moments of comedy that let our characters have a moment of relief. Near the end of the story, the world has gone into war with the locusts and rat creatures. Each character is rich with personality, they ooze with charisma and allows them to bounce off each other. Every character has great moments like this. Phoney is hunted by rat creatures because he is a supposed prophet and they use a balloon of him from his campaign for mayor to prove he is a prophet, Smiley befriends a baby rat creature, Fone Bone becomes more of a hero and gets a statue of him, and Lucius and Grandma Ben have to deal with the bones and the hijinks they get into. The best way to describe this story would be as if the Smurfs and Lord of the Rings were mixed together with it managing to have a perfect balance of comedic relief and serious moments  

 Bone was written and drawn by Jeff Smith from 1991 to 2004. It was released bimonthly and has 55 issues and 9 volumes and was rereleased in color 2005 to 2009. Originally the idea of Bone had come from many other pieces of media such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and Moby Dick and it’s inspirations are clearly shown in the comic. 

The series had come from a comic strip called Thorn that he made for his college newspaper and features some of the characters we see now in the Bone. Later, Smith decided to create his own publishing company called Cartoon Books and got his wife to help him.

Bone was under some criticism and was occasionally banned due to the inclusion of characters seen smoking, gambling and themes of racism. Smith has quoted on this saying that he never intended for Bone to be for kids. Bone managed to have quite the legacy with many spin-offs and novels releasing, two video games were released, action figures were sold and even a movie was in talks of production. Unfortunately the movie never was to be released as it was passed around until finally landing in Netflix’s hands and getting canceled just earlier this year. Nonetheless, Bone is an example of somebody accomplishing their dream and not letting anybody stop them from reaching it. 

Overall, Bone is an impressive series that left its impact on me and kids around my age. It holds a special place in my heart and is the reason why I enjoy comics and movies so much. Although not intended for kids, it’s the perfect story for young kids to read. It allows them to explore new topics that aren’t in their face but isn’t so subtle. It features many great, rich characters with a fantastic story that changes without it seeming too complicated. Bone is one of the best pieces of media to have ever been made.