Begun in 1991, Bone is a landmark comic book. Originally published as 55 comic books, the story was eventually gathered together in 9 graphic novels before eventually being bound in one massive 1,300 page volume in 2004. I started reading Bone in the mid-90s, and have read the entire story multiple times. It is one of my favorite books of all time.
Earlier this year, my son and I started reading it, and he’s fallen in love with it just as I have. He’s six, and doesn’t love some of the “bad language” (he doesn’t like me reading, “stupid, stupid rat creatures!”. I’m supposed to say “S-word”, which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it), but he loves the characters and is fully caught up in the adventure. My wife has been eager to read Harry Potter with our kids, but that’s been a bit more daunting for him to get into (and our daughter is still to young). Bone works very well for him at this age – it being a comic is probably a big reason for that. Even though he’s a very good reader, the pictures really do keep his interest.
In short, three cousins get run out of town because one of them, Smiley Bone, is a greedy schemer and conman. They end up getting lost before finding themselves in a fantastical valley full of giant talking bugs, fearsome (but cute, and very, very stupid) rat creatures, dragons, and strange, tall, bipedal creatures.
The bone cousins get roped, over the course of a year, into the slowly brewing turmoil in the valley (which eventually erupts into war), when all they want is to go back home.
Left to my own devices, I could wax poetic about this book for 5,000 words- but it would mostly come down to the wonderful pacing of Smith’s writing, and the absolutely beautiful artwork contained in here. There’s such a perfect balance of fine detail with negative space, and his comedic timing is perhaps only exceeded by the emotional honesty of his characters. There’s such a marvelous blend of humor, adventure, fantasy, romance, suspense, and even a little horror. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like this book – though I’m sure they probably exist.
This is truly one of my most reliably pleasurable reading experiences. I enjoy it every bit as much now, at 40, as I did when I first came across it twenty-four years ago. And to watch my son fall in love with this book is one of the reasons I absolutely love reading to him every night. I hope he revisits this book as much as I have, and gets just as much joy on subsequent re-reads.