Appreciation: ‘Bone’ Volume Nine
There’s little left to be said about Jeff Smith’s superlative Bone. If that’s the case, then why write anything at all? Because today, Scholastic’s Graphix imprint has released Crown of Horns, the ninth and final volume in their color collection. Coming six months after Treasure Hunters, this is a longer book, 212 pages, but with no change in cover price which is a treat for the buyer.
With Crown of Horns, the entire saga is now in a uniform color set, aimed at school children. The first volume was released in 2004 and we’re finally here at the conclusion. Readers new to the adventures of Bone and his cousins now have two choices: the 1300 page black and white saga for about $40 or, the nine color volumes which all together would cost about $90.
What’s lovely is to see Jeff’s work take color so well, especially in the capable hands of Steve Hamaker. The color enhances the atmosphere and story telling, never overpowering the characters or settings. It’s one of the finest jobs I’ve seen in quite some time.
One thing the color volumes also have going for them is that Smith’s spelling errors are corrected, making it the cleanest version of the story yet, entirely appropriate for Scholastic’s market.
When first meeting the characters, as I did in 1991, you have little idea of their species or nature but quickly they become distinct, memorable characters and you realize you don’t care about their genetics. Instead, they exist in their little village until they set out into the great world and discover adventure, war, love, humor, and new insights.
Home, in this case Boneville, is a theme, much like in Lord of the Rings, and the theme is a major point in the final volume. And like Tolkien’s world, the Bone-people find themselves co-existing with humans, dragons, and other creatures. No explanation necessary, just a delight in seeing the interactions.
Smith spent 1300 pages with these characters and continually revealed new tidbits about them without seeming contrived. The storyline holds together nicely and each of the nine Scholastic volumes works with beginning and ending.
If the volumes could benefit from anything, it would be either a recap of the previous books to this point or a character key to help the readers. Of course, you sit and read them repeatedly; they get committed to memory so maybe that’s why they’re missing.
Bone is recommended reading for comic book and graphic novel fans of all ages and essential reading for those just discovering the artform and are curious as to what’s out there.