“When it rains, it pours” says an often used English idiom. While that isn’t the literal case with the season we are being subjected to in the Indian cities, it’s aptly applies to Jeff Smith’s Bone series publications in India.
Yes, the long awaited Bone’s final set have come to the Indian stores, and I for one is happy as ever to read the conclusion to these anthropomorphic Bone cousins’ saga, in full blown colour.
The first set, consisting of Bone #1 to #4, was released by Scholastic’s Indian arm, under their imprint Graphix, back in 2008. At the time of their Indian release, Bone #9, the last collection of this Scholastic series, was undergoing their new colouring effort, and we were wondering here at Comicology, that the remaining titles would be released along with the #9, once that is made available to the US stores.
Colored Bone #9, eventually hit the stores in US on Jan 2009, and my hope of seeing the sets in India soon, were doubled. But, as it turned out it took more than a year for Scholastic to bring their last instalment of Bone sets to India.
Reasons are unknown of the delay, which could be debated from the slow sales of these items off the store racks, or the relative popularity these Bone Cousins enjoy among Indian comic fans. But, it was sure that some concerns were related to the Indian prints, which has made Scholastic to adopt a safer method this time around, by procuring the second set directly from their Singapore editions.
The package, size and format remains the same, with the quality of the papers being the only difference. While the Indian Prints (#1 to #4) were thinner, the new set have more thicker quality papers, but still they are both comparable in terms of the glossy paper quality. And to maintain the standards, they are being priced at the same range of INR 350 each.
We had discussed the steep price during our last post, but I still believe that the world renowned characters, who are now available to us in brand new colored avatars, deserve that price tag.
So, without further adieu, let’s move on to our preview of these 5 titles of Bone.
Bone #5, titled Rock Jaw, carries the Bone Cousins to the Eastern borders in their quest to take the Rat creature, named now as Bartleby (a character, which recently made it to the MTV list), and chronicles their encounters with the Big mountain lion, Roque Jaw (Chapter 1), often mistakenly pronounced as Rock Jaw, much to his irritation.
In total Bone #5 comprises of 5 exact chapters where they get new allies in form of The Orphans (Chapter 2), and also discover the Rat Creature Temple (Chapter 3) along with the unlikely duo of Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures.
Further down they fall victim to the mysterious Ghost Circles (Chapter 4) with a special face-to-face encounter with Kingdok and his hoard, as the volume comes to the close with a final answer to the Call of the Wild (Chapter 5) for their little Bartleby.
The encounters with the Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures and the monstrous Rock Jaw are a out and out laughter package, which is sure to tickle your funny bone.
Book #6, titled Old Man’s Cave, starts with a Prologue of Cranky Groundhog, where Fone Bone and Smiley Bone try to find their way back to the valley, to be close to their dear friends.
While back in the valley the long murmured showdown between the Rat Creatures and the Valley people had started, with the first round being won by the demonic creatures, as the secret of The Hollow Tree (Chapter 1) is revealed to the readers.
Thorn turns out the Guardian angel to lost Bone cousins in Dragons in the Earth (Chapter 2), while they try escaping the menace of Ghost Circles, through Thorn’s newly discovered power of Protection Spell (Chapter 3), as they defy Grandma’s order and try to chart a new path of their own.
Back near the sanctuary of Stick Eaters, where the Valley people have retreated, their trusted ally Lucius is befooled by a Wolf Call (Chapter 4), as the Blood Moon (Chapter 5) night arrives for a pinnacle showdown between Hooded One and Grandma Ben, with Bones and Thorn playing an important role in the final outcome.
Bone #7, titled Ghost Circles, starts of with a heart-rendering Prologue of Jonathan, who at his last bed, repents his actions, which casts suspicions over the loyalty of Lucius.
Back at the Old Man’s Cave, a bloody war ensures between the Good and the Bad, sounding the End Times (Chapter 1). Thorn along with Grandma Ben, leads the Bone Cousins, for her final assault on the Rat Creatures stronghold, as The Promise (Chapter 2) is revealed, and Darker Truths (Chapter 3), comes out to open.
Battle with the blood thirsty Rat creatures, turns to Snap! Crackle! Pop! (Chapter 4) action, and Thorn and Fone Bone, manage to enter the mysterious Ghost Circles, to find out the voices of Root Cellar (Chapter 5), which gives them the necessary direction to face the evil looming at their path.
As they approach the Rat Creatures stronghold, for one final battle, Thorn and company, discover the Prayer Stones (Chapter 6) erected for the Dragon shrines, and their meanings are revealed.
Bone #8, titled Treasure Hunters, brings Phoney Bone and his ever bright business minds back to the fore, but not before Lucius gets his own due with a Prologue dedicated to him.
What now resides there is a corrupt government, and mysterious areas covered with The Cold Spot (Chapter 2), for the evils to traverse between Dream and Awakened Worlds.
Meanwhile, Smiley Bone and the reunited Bartleby, turn out to be good Pals (Chapter 3), inside the gates of Atheia. While, Fone Bone along with the trouble-maker Phoney Bone, faces the romantic battle of love and affection, with the To Be or Not to Bee (Chapter 4), question looming large.
Inside the gates of Atheia, a secret meeting of the old loyalists take place, with Thorn finally being briefed about her queen mother, nicknamed Moonwort (Chapter 5). She was apparently killed by the Rat Creatures, which ultimately led to the end of their family’s rein over the old kingdom.
Thorn finally reveals that her search is aimed for the The Crown of Horns (Chapter 6), which is said to be the key to defeat the demon lord of Locusts, who is on a quest to resurrect himself, for a rule over the Valley and beyond.
With dark clouds looming around the city, Rat Creatures gather at the Gate of Atheia, for a final assault for control. Thorn and Grandma now find themselves, in the midst of a bloody battle.
Book #9, the final volume of this Bone saga titled Crown of Horns, starts off with the recollection of the Thorn’s childhood in The Dungeon and The Parapet (Chapter 1), which is the second biggest chapter of the entire Bone series.
An Insert of Mim (Chapter 2), the first Dragon queen, is briefed in a short chapter, before Thorn reveals that the Ghost Circles which surrounds the city into an unbreakable magic cover has some Gaps (Chapter 3), using which they believe that they can bring some much needed help from their allies at Old Man’s Cave, who unknowing to them are facing a handful of problems on their own.
Escape from the City (Chapter 4), then details Thorn and company’s escapade using these Gaps, as they desperately try to get some sort of helping hands in their battle against the evil. But unknowingly to Grandma, Thorn maps her own path to Chamber of Horns (Chapter 5), to put an end to the menace in toto.
What happens is then the final battle of good vs evil, in another lengthy chapter (Chapter 5) of the volume 9 (which even outnumbers Chapter 1 of the same book in terms of numbers), with the readers having to witness the familiar climax of many a fairytales unfold before their very eyes.
Homecoming (Chapter 6), is a dedicated to Lucius, the martyr of the blood war, where he is sent on his final voyage back to his hometown for a royal burial. Joining them on their entourage are Bone cousins, who embark on their own mission back to Boneville, with Thorn & Grandma joining to see them off.
River Crossing (Chapter 8), finishes of the Bone saga, with the Bones reaching their mark for a farewell, with Thorn and Grandma giving them the send-off. Unknowing to them, Phoney Bone has managed to scalp the treasure of Atheia, as he tries to smuggle them out as the culmination of his long standing mission.
|"Despite the cover of the last issue of the original run, portrays Red Dragon asking us to keep mum; the ending of this Bone saga would be debated for long and hard, by those who followed the series through the 90’s and beyond the millennium”|
Does he get the support of his allies Smiley and the do-gooder Fone, or do they become his nemesis, is unravelled in the final pages as the readers give a farewell to the Bone Saga, which redefined the thin line between Comics and Graphic Novels for over a decade.
But, did the ending really satisfy the Bone readers to the fullest? I have my own reservations, and despite Jeff Smith claiming that he had the ending planned even before he started drawing his first album, I still don’t think that end was as he had envisioned originally, at least to the true essence of it. It was abrupt, and doesn’t bode well for the legacy set by the early adventures of Bone.
Nevertheless, despite the cover of the Original #55 issue of Bone, portrays a Red Drag asking us to keep mum, the ending of this Bone saga would be debated for long and hard as long, by those who followed the series for the whole of 90’s and beyond the millennium.
CREATORS CORNER: Jeff Smith
From a $7 per day strip maker, to a man who owns a fledgling comics business entity, his story is an inspiration for all those aspiring comic fans, who like to make their own cut.
Jeff now devotes his time between guest talks in comics forums around the world, and writing and drawing his new adventure series, RASL. But, Bone continues to be his hallmark achievement, and now is a study material in many of the schools in his country.
Recently, he won in his favour a Minnesota review committee ruling, which was in response to a petition filed by a kid’s mom, to ban Bone based story telling from school syllabus. The reasons given - the Bone volumes portrayed violence, gambling, and drinking in its earlier episodes.
Anyone who had read Bone series would stand against those allegations, so there was no wonder the judgement turned in the favour of Smith and company.
CREATORS CORNER: Steve Hamaker
Even though this collection of Bone series is not new, as it was only a re-issue version of the 9 volume Bone collection released by Jeff Smith’s own Cartoon Books, which in-turn collected the 55 edition single issues; where it standsout is in the breathtaking color rendition by the incredibly talented Steve Hamaker, who breathed his life and soul into turning a classic into a modern day Graphic Novel standard.
Bone had achieved a cult state, even before Hamaker came into the picture. But, he made the turnaround, which resulted in Bone now being introduced into schools in United States, as a medium of teaching. Steve Hamaker was recently nominated for Eisner Awards, for his works on Bone’s latest volumes, which incidentally was his 4th for this esteemed recognition in comics industry.
As a tribute to his work, I could only do my part by dedicating the creativity rights of Bone, by naming him along with Jeff in the title of this Bone post. You deserved it fella !
And that completes our Bone run at Comicology, and if you haven’t read it, now is a chance to read them all in one go. So, head to your nearest book store, or sit and order it from your online store.
Nevertheless, Enjoy the reading, Adios Amigos !