Having read Bone, the complete series 2 years ago, I returned to this first volume of the magnum opus prepared for the letdown that I inevitably would experience. So much has been said about Bone to the point that I merely expect it to knock me out of my chair in its greatness, only to be disappointed by how simple and childlike the tale begins.
And yet, it’s this simplicity that makes the first volume such a quick read. It’s humor it’s chintzy, it’s drawings straight out of a newspaper comic strip, and it’s story small and quaint.
Indeed, there’s hints at a larger story. In this first volume we are introduced to the hooded figure and the rat creatures that are on the hunt for “the one with the star on his chest,” which we the reader know as Phoney.
And there’s the dragon and Thorn’s dream that suggest something bigger is to come, tho having read the complete series already the surprise is dead. Not that coming into this story fresh would have changed anything.
So much of my expectations from Bone stem from the anticipation generated by all the Eisner awards and critical acclaim the series has been awarded, to the point that I feel a little bitter and resentful at how much the story doesn’t meet my expectations.
And perhaps that is due to my own unfamiliarity with the influences that I’ve read are ripe in the Jeff Smith’s work. I’m not one raised on Sunday newspaper comic strips. Yes, I’ve read Peanuts and seen comics, but the familiarity and nostalgia that Smith is supposedly channeling is lost on my young mind, trained to only read novels and the printed word.
And that is why I find my reread of this volume so rewarding and yet frustrating. For I know this comic is special to many, and yet to me is merely a breeze that I can hardly describe, let alone feel.
But alas, the strip is light and fun hearted, and I did smile while reconnecting with Ted and Fone and reminiscing on how such a large story comes out of a small and humorous beginning. And of course, there’s an innocent initialization as seeing Thorn with her voluptuous legs and feminine figure, which Smith draws with a child’s impression of what we deem beautiful in a women. One can only feel the same energy Fone does a heart appears above his head at the mere sight of her.
And yet, I’m not sure if I actually feel what the story suggests, or really enjoy the humor that Smith is going for. And that, I recognize, is a fault on the reader, and hopefully one I can one day appreciate. For a comic should appeal to the inner child, and I feel mine has grown cynical and hardened.