BONE 25th ANNIVERSARY REVIEW: “Out from Boneville” is a collection of six comics written and drawn by Jeff Smith (Rasl, Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil) and published on May 29, 1995. This colored version was published in 2005 by Scholastic, with the colorist being Steve Hamaker. It follows the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, as they escape from Boneville, only to split up amidst a storm of locusts and having to find their way back to each other, while encountering new faces.
Before I ever watched a “Lord of the Rings” film, I had my nose buried in the world of “Bone,” a fantasy franchise worthy of its immense praise. My childhood was found in these graphic novels (which were once individual, black-and-white comics), as I meticulously collected all of them over a few years of my life. Beginning with “Out from Boneville,” Jeff Smith sets up his world and the Bone characters in an intricate, yet funny fashion. Comedy is injected into this series heavily, especially in the earlier novels, and this first one gave me quite a bit of laughs. All of the characters have their own personality, never merging into one another, unless they share a common interest. What makes it better is how they all have of their own way of providing humor, even though some of the characters are clearly maniacal or mean. From Phoney Bone to the Rat Creatures themselves, everyone has something witty and interesting to bring to the table, and I will say that Smith has crafted some of the most notable of figures in any comic that I have read. There’s many side characters that are introduced throughout the adventure, but thankfully he makes them all memorable enough to remember. If I had to pick one character that is my favorite, I would say that it’d be the combination of the two Rat Creatures. I don’t know why, but all of their dialogue is too funny to ignore; they are the comic-relief to this whimsical series. Reading this book once more, I have discovered many new things I didn’t when I first glanced at it years ago. There are definitely deeper and darker themes and motivations to the story. What Smith does is give a sense of wonder with a slap of mystery, as the reader is just getting to know these peculiar surroundings. It’s hard to predict what will go down and, after reading the whole series beforehand, where our heroes will end up. Who’s the hooded one? Why is a dragon protecting the Bones? What does the hooded one want with Phoney Bone? Many questions arise and they are all delicately interwoven into the plot. Smith makes sure to takes his time in setting up these questions too, as it takes until chapter four for things to get heated up and the wheels to start turning (which is almost halfway through the graphic novel). It’s not like there’s nothing engaging beforehand, though. I remember reading this in awe at the beautiful drawings and coloring, and diving deep into who Phone Bone is, and discovering this new world along with him. I still feel the same way now. Smith’s drawings are fantastic, to say the least. He puts an immense amount of effort into detail, and really knows his way around the human form, providing a unique and great way at creating his characters outside of the Bones. Of course, I never read these stories without the help of the colorist, Steve Hamaker, who has digitally made all of the drawings more picturesque. He did a great job. The setting for this world (at least in the confines of this novel) is of an old rustic town, with many farm houses and a tavern for the locals, as well as mountainscapes and caves. It screams fantasy when the Rat Creatures and Bones are factored in, and everything falls nicely into place in setting up what is to come. I have enjoyed reading this once more, and believe that as it progressed through the chapters, it got better and better. Bouncing off of that, any criticism I have in this novel would be how slow it is to start, even though most of that contains the development of who Phone Bone is, where he spends most of his time lost in the woods. It’s the foundation for the series though, so everything will improve and build to bigger, better heights. That’s not to say that this isn’t a good novel. In fact, I think it’s great. The first chapter and last chapter are good buns to the sandwich, with the Bones being lost at the start and them reuniting at the end, only to have the hooded one foretell the dangers to come (the character design of that figure alone gives me chills). I can’t wait to assess the other books, with one of my personal favorites growing up coming next! If you haven’t seen this and are a fan of fantasy, give it a go; you will not be disappointed! FINAL SCORE: 88%= Juicy Popcorn