BONE 25th ANNIVERSARY REVIEW: “Bone: Coda” is a 120 page graphic novel composed of a new Bone chapter written and drawn by Jeff Smith (Rasl, Tuki: Save the Humans), and a Bone companion, written by comics librarian and historian, Stephen Weiner (The Hellboy Companion, The 101 Best Graphic Novels). Along with these two, the book also contains an informative entry of the beginnings of “Bone” as well as an interview with Jeff Smith.
Man, a new “Bone” book…this is something to cherish (if you’re a fan of the series, that is). Sometime last November, I was surfing the web and found “Bone: Coda,” a compilation of two biographical/analytical writings and a new chapter to the “Bone” series, which was published that very same year. I was shocked and immensely excited; I had to get my hands on it. Getting this book is what sparked this marathon, and I read all of the graphic novels once more over in order to get to this moment. It was a lot of build-up, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t be for nothing. After reading this book, I can say that it is a must-have if you are a big fan of the series. Not only was the bonus chapter a nice read, but the other sections of the book were highly informative. I learned of Jeff Smith’s process, his background, and the underground comics industry that began booming many years ago. It was a lesson as to how “Bone” came about as well as the high demand for independent comic book writers. Really, it’s an oversight of the comic book industry as a whole, with “Bone” being a key piece to the puzzle. Breaking it down into its three sections, I found the new chapter of “Bone” to be entertaining if not necessary. It doesn’t change much of anything to the overall story but gives fans another small adventure with the Bone cousins. They essentially had to fix their broken hay cart, with trouble constantly at their backs. It was nice, tightly written, and short. The artwork was obviously good, and reading it in black-and-white was an interesting experience in itself. Though I would’ve wanted more meat to this chapter, I’m fine with the overall product, especially since it’s a bonus and didn’t even need to be made in the first place (thank you Jeff Smith). Smith’s autobiography on the coming of “Bone” that followed this new chapter was incredibly interesting, and I found myself enthralled in the world of comic book writers, being as how his insight is through the perspective of one. He gives some solid information of this realm, and it was nice to read considering the extent of my knowledge of “Bone” lies within the pages of its story. There’s a heck of a lot of history when it comes to the self-published comic book writer movement, all of which is intriguing to study. Even if you weren’t a “Bone” fan, I’m sure that you would find interest in learning of this art. Finally, the last section is of a comic book historian’s analysis of the “Bone” series, as well as some background information to Jeff Smith himself. This was more about “Bone” than the previous section, and my favorite part about it was learning the beginnings of these characters. The book provides some of Smith’s first drawings of the Bone cousins, way back in the 60s. It’s insane to see how far this idea extends, and reminded me of the cartoon characters I would draw and create when I was younger. I liked this part of the book, but I will admit that some of it felt repetitive in accordance to the previous section and the graphic novels themselves. It is an analysis of the series after all, so that’s bound to happen; I just didn’t find it absolutely necessary in certain paragraphs. The character studies were interesting, but the breakdown of the chapters gave me information I already knew. Tacked on at the end of this book is an interview with Smith, talking about what was already written and on his new (at the time) graphic novel, “Rasl.” I’ve been wanting to read that story for a while now, and I hope to buy it sometime soon. Reading the interview only made me want it more, as Smith goes into detail as to how he crafted the story. His research into anything he makes is extensive, and I find that to be the best part of his process to make the final product; it shows he takes his time to make his creation. While “Bone: Coda” isn’t a new graphic novel, it does hold a lot of juicy information that any “Bone” fan will love. I enjoyed reading it and took a lot from the reading experience. Seeing the Bone cousins in a new addition was really nice, and I hope to see some more of them in the future. For now, “Bone: Coda” serves as a prominent book for any fan to dive back into the world that is “Bone.” FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn