At the beginning of the month I mentioned that I want to read at least 50 graphic novels/manga this year. I can safely say that this will not be a problem. I have already read 6 in January and have at least four more at home that I am looking forward to reading.
To start things off I picked up the first volume of the Bone series, Out From Boneville, by Jeff Smith, and honestly, I did not see what the big fuss was about. I did some poking around and there really is a big fuss. This series has received some major awards and accolades. Time Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, Vibe, Spin, most major newspapers, and ALA have all put it on a Best/Top Ten list at some point. And then the testimonials-Matt Groening, Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner…the list goes on and on. All these people can’t be wrong (can they?) So, I decided to pick up the next installment before I proclaimed that Bone was just ok. Here is where I admit that they were all right, and I was wrong. And, while it usually pains me to be wrong, I am ok with it this time because Bone really is great and I am thrilled to join the party, even if I am a bit late.
In the first volume, Out From Boneville, we meet the Bone Cousins, Fone, Phoney, and Smiley Bone. The Bones have been chased out of Boneville because of Phoney’s shady ways (the full story behind the Bone’s getting chased out is eventually revealed). A swarm of locusts separate the Bones and they each find themselves traveling alone through a valley filled with mysterious creatures. There is a dragon, Ted the Bug, the rat creatures, the possum family, and Gran’ma Ben and the lovely Thorn. The Bones eventually reunite and the stage is set for what turns out to be an epic quest.
After reading the first four volumes I understand why people love this series. The story definitely picks up after the first volume as more and more information about characters is revealed. I am not going to give anything away, but I will say that appearances are deceiving and even the littlest characters have some big roles to play. The story is complex and layered with mystery, fantasy, and my favorite, humor. Oh, the jokes in the series. They are hilarious, mostly sarcastic one-line zingers that are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. But of course you are paying attention because each panel if filled with something interesting to look at (I personally am fond of the dragon and the quiche-loving rat creature). The Bones are cartoons with lively facial expressions, the valley creatures are dark and spooky, the humans are life-like, and the animals (especially the possums) are adorable. While the illustrations and general content make this series suitable for younger readers (middle schoolers-the rat creatures are bit scary), there is a layer of depth to the story that will keep older teens and adults engaged.
I have five more volumes left to read and I can’t wait to find out what sort of adventures the Bones have ahead of them. For readers unfamiliar with graphic novels, this is an excellent introduction and for seasoned connoisseurs, this is a must read (if you haven’t already!)
P.S. I am half way to completing the Graphic Novels Challenge!