Tag Archives: Children’s Comics & Graphic Novels

Tall Tales

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Tall Tales [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, part of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Tall Tales

Three of the tall tales in this volume are stories about the fabled Bone pioneer Big Johnson Bone, as written by Tom Sniegoski for the setting invented and illustrated by Jeff Smith. They are framed by Smith’s “Smiley and the Bone Scouts” with the introductory tale “The Powers That Be.” All of them are comedic, without the epic and tragic events that characterize the original Bone series. If that’s what you’re after, though, they deliver. My daughter found them hilarious.

Serially, this book falls after the original triple trilogy, but familiarity with those books in completely unnecessary, and there are no significant spoilers present.

Rose

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Rose [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, a prequel to the Bone series.

Smith Bone Rose

This “prequel” to the Bone comics series is focused on a particular stratum of the layered story that Jeff Smith had composed in the original comic. It is entirely trained on the intrigue between the royal princesses Rose and Briar. There are no Bones from Boneville in this story, and the closest thing to comic relief is provided by Rose’s two dogs, with whom she has frequent conversations. But, especially at the end, these aren’t comic at all. 

Although far more intricate and poised than Smith’s drawings in the original series, Charles Vess’ art is wonderful and well suited to the subject matter. Smith’s characters are very recognizable, even in their decades-younger forms and in a far different style. The dragons are all appropriately awesome.

The lettering actually put me off a little. It is a sort of unical script with little highlights in each letter, which seemed too busy and distracting for my taste. The word balloons for the dogs (and for Rose addressing them in their ‘speech’) were blue instead of white, which was a very efficient convention for indicating linguistic difference.

On further reflection, it occurs to me that Rose follows a sort of rough Star Wars episode 3 plot trajectory with respect to the Bone series as episodes 4-6: think of Gran’ma Ben as Ben Kenobi and the Hooded One as Darth Vader. (But it’s something of a stretch to think of Fone Bone as Luke Skywalker!) The Lord of the Rings comparisons that seemed so obvious early in the original run of Bone have no place here.

Crown of Horns

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Crown of Horns [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, book 9 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Crown of Thorns

The final volume of the Bone series doesn’t have many surprises. All of the plots that were set up in the earlier numbers play out in a way that seems pretty inevitable, if not outright predictable. There are a few jokes, and lots of chasing and fighting. Comeuppances and rewards (including a hero’s burial) are distributed according to the characters’ merits established before.

I had been holding out for some exciting backstory on Ted the bug, but I was disappointed there. Maybe it’s in one of the prequel supplements: Rose or Stupid Stupid Rat Tails.

Treasure Hunters

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Treasure Hunters [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, book 8 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Treasure Hunters

Treasure Hunters is really only readable as a serial installment of Bone, but it is a pretty good one, centered on intrigue in the royal city of Atheia. It ends with a gargantuan cliffhanger.