Isn't it a long time since we covered a Comics from USA at Comicology? While there was a continuous flow of Euro/Franco-Belgian Comics in India from various publishers, US based comics were a no-show, largely due to the copyrights held by Gotham Group for DC & Marvel in India, which went into hibernation (for the 3rd time since their launch) last year. Supermans, Batmans, and Spidermans were reduced to be seen only on Torrent sites as CBRs, or the occasional remainder stock from US found at few book shops.
Well, we finally have the answer to that in the form of Scholastic. Scholastic-India, a subsidiary of Scholastic Inc, have jumped on to introduce a different US comics genre to Indian Comic/Graphic Novel fans. And what better way to start their venture, by bringing in the much acclaimed, and credited Bone Series.
Bone was released as an underground comics book series in United States of America, originally serialized in 55 irregularly released issues from 1991 to 2004. Bone was drawn and written by Jeff Smith, who is widely known to the Comic book enthusiasts for his work on DC & Marvel Superhero titles, in the later part of his career.
It was originally drawn as Black & White, and Smith has admitted that his artwork was inspired by animated cartoons and comic strips. Cover arts for all those 55 issues could be seen here or here, a testimony the talent of Jeff Smith.
Bone volume 1, comprises of six chapters:
The Bone Series has garnered Eisner Awards (10 times) among the various categories it was nominated for, including Best Writer/Artist for Jeff Smith multiple times.
Also, it appears that Boneville is fairly modern, as opposed to the Valley, which, judging by the weapons used and methods of transportation, is little above medieval.
For example, Smiley Bone makes two comments, one to Phoney Bone about a failed scheme of his involving a nuclear reactor, and one to Fone Bone while trying to convince him to return to Boneville, referring to CornDogHutTM, all of which are twentieth century achievements.
Overall, It's a Lord of the Rings style series, with a humour in-between, yet maintaining the seriousness of the plot all along.
Bone volume 3, comprises of eight chapters:
1. Watch Duty,
Starting from 1995, the original series was converted into a series of 9 volumes, last of which was released in 2004. In 2004, a Special One Volume Edition of the entire Bone Series, was released as a volume, comprising 1332 pages.
It was originally released to celebrate the end of the series and also to mark the deal they struck with Scholastic Inc, and was supposed to be restricted to a limited print run, so as to allow the sales of Scholastic to prosper,
But Cartoon Books, the brand which is owned by Jeff Smith, renegotiated the deal because Smith said he felt like the comic book stores still needed that edition. As of now it is priced somewhere around $40, and is freely available in Amazon for order.
I remember seeing this edition in the local bookstores here, but at INR 2000, it's far out of reach for a humble collector, in me. When will the Indian Book Distribution Agencies learn to get away from a Strict Dollar-To-Rupee Conversion, Geesh.
In the same year in 2004, that Scholastic Inc. began reissuing the individual volumes in full color, which eventually is the topic of this post.
When compared with the original editions, which were in Black & White, the color editions were incredibly superior, and helped to bring Jeff Smith's artwork to a next level, which I guess even he wouldn't have dreamt to become.
Bone volume 4, comprises of eight chapters, along with a Prologue:
The typical examples being the Red Dragon, and the Rat Creatures, while the classic touch surrounding Bone is still retained with White Color theme. Kudos to the efforts of Steve Hamaker, for his creditable work.
Jeff Smith has acknowledged this effort in many of his articles. The process of colouring and releasing the books is still not complete, as only 8 out of the 9 have been released so far (at the time of posting this topic). You could leave a note to Steve, on his weblog or personal website. There are some good YouTube videos, where he explains about digital colouring, so it's worth a visit.
For a sample of what Adobe Photoshop and little creative mind (Steve Hammer, in this case) can do, roll your mouse over the sample images below. This made my long-time wish to learn and explore Adobe Photoshop, even stronger.
Roll-Over the Bone Sample Inner-Art Images for Toggling Black/White and Color Versions
And coming back to the topic of this post, Scholastic India has now brought first 4 volumes of these Bone Saga to India, as Pack 1 bundled together, and also sold separately. The Front and Back Cover scans of the same are provided along with this post.
| Jeff Smith Interview in Cartoons |
Courtesy: Culture Pulp
The back-covers carries some of the famous quotes by various publishers and critics about the Bone Series, which speaks high about it, which the series truly deserves to every bit. Have a look at Jeff Smith's Official website: Boneville.com, for more details on the same, and a chance to hear on the latest works of Jeff's from his own words.
As per the last news, Bone Series is currently in plans to be made as CGI-Animated movie by Warner Bros. That should make the saga much more famous in other parts of the world. And Jeff Smith has also said he wants to continue the adventures in the valley where the “Bone” adventures took place, with possible appearances by supporting characters.
These would be chapter books set in the valley, written by Tom Sniegowski and illustrated by Smith. The book would be aimed at tweens (Oops, I am counted out. If at all Tweens has the same meaning as in Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, where it refers to a hobbit between the ages of 20 and 32. I would be called a Tween then. Again, me and my fantasies).
As with the author, Jeff Smith is currently working on a New Series, again written and drawn by him, titled RASL. The Preview on his blog, looks all the more enthralling, hope we could get a version to India sometime sooner, with the help of Scholastic's Graphix Imprint.
Staying on with Bone, Dark Horse in 2007 has released a hard-cover issue, named "Art of Bone". It's said to be a collectors item, going on around with the background information and inspiration of Jeff Smith's Bone artwork, being retold by some of his confidents. You could see a preview of that in Jeff's blog here.
Overall, I liked the series, and eagerly looking forward for the conclusion with the second pack of 5 issues. With the Issue 9 still not out on print in US, that looks a long shot as of now. Hopefully, Scholastic would bring them sooner.
UPDATE (June ‘10): As it turned out, Scholastic took a a whole year, to release the final set, regarding which you can read all about, in the new post here:
Graphix – Bone #5-9 | 2010
And that completes our run with Bone on Comicology, but it will never be the last rest assured. As always, please leave your comments about the post, in the below section. I see 40+ visits to the Comicology everyday from site trackers. Even though, I appreciate all those visits, I am disappointed from the fact that only 3 or 4 decide to leave a comment over a week long period.
It takes more than a day's work to construe a topic, gather materials, write and format a Blog post, and with that I would be happy if half the visitors at least take a minute to post their view, reviews, "including criticism" as a comment. It will let me know how good I am at this job, and will go a great deal in continuing my passion. This will also help to let other blog readers to know that you have been to this place, where your hobbies meet.