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Art of Bone Hardcover – Jul 31 2007
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Although the comic book Bone ended in 2004, its popularity remains unabated, justifying several different graphic-novel repackagings of it. The saga's legion of fans should be elated by this lavish coffee-table collection of behind-the-scenes Bone artwork that encompasses everything from pencil roughs and character designs to original pages and lushly colored covers. The genesis and development of the story are traced from a handmade comic drawn in ballpoint by a 10-year-old Smith to an early version that appeared in Smith's college campus newspaper to sample strips intended for syndication to Smith's pivotal decision to self-publish Bone as a comic book. Other rare material includes promotional artwork (including a strip drawn for the 2002 ALA Annual Conference), Christmas cards, action figures, and illustrations for a Bone lunch box and playing cards. The book's large format and beautiful reproduction show off the art as never before and demonstrate how seamlessly Smith integrated the broadly cartoony Bone cousins and the more realistic human characters and backgrounds. A genuine Bone-anza for Smith's steadfast fans. Flagg, Gordon
About the Author
LUCY SHELTON CASWELL is Associate Professor and Curator of the Library of Communication and Graphic Arts at Ohio State University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This volume from Dark Horse Books is chock full of 200 pages of rare Jeff Smith Bone art. Some of it unpublished, some of it pencil versions, alternate covers, etc. You get a little bit of everything in this book: Finished panel pages, completed, full color covers, unfinished panel sequences, rare sketches, pencil versions of completed covers, often side-by-side with the finished product, and so much more. The editors are along to provide captions to the art at the bottom of the page, often noting Smith's influences such as the valley scene from Bone #1 and its comparison to a similar scene from one of Joe Kubert's Tarzan pages. Not that it is a copy of the Kubert scene, but rather how smith uses perspective in the scene, dwarfing the characters by the sheer expanse of the area that Bone is looking over.
The book also reprints perhaps the seminal page in Bone's history. Bone is being chased by two of the fearsome Rat creatures that are ever after him. He leaps to a tiny branch thinking he is safe as the two large predators could not possibly fit on the same branch, and would be stupid to try. When they are both on the branch, Bone screams the immortal words, "Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures!" This phrase has even been included in Random House's Cyberspeak dictionary.
The book introduces the reader to all of the main characters including Fone Bone (the star), scheming Phoney Bone, dim-witted Smiley Bone, Thorn (bone's human love interest), Gran'ma Ben, and Lucius who runs the local tavern. With heroes you need villains and we can't leave them out...they include The Lord of the Locusts, The Hooded One, and Kingdok, who rules the Rat Creatures.
Bone is so rich in its story and scope that it really humbles comics that have been put out by the "larger companies". Even if you haven't read the comics you're sure to be dazzled by the art in this book. Smith is without a doubt one of the best cartoonists and best storytellers of the past twenty years. And if you are a Bone fan then the book will provide a lot of interesting anecdotes to many of the stories that you've enjoyed over the years. The good thing is that even though the series ended in 2004, Scholastic Books is reprinting the series in collected editions and in full color. This book gets my highest possible rating. Get it...NOW!
REVIEWED BY TIM JANSON
For those who have come to treasure the Sequential masterpiece known
as BONE, this coffee-table volume will be an extra-special treat. For those who have never heard of the phenomenal epic which established storyteller Jeff Smith as a prime mover in the fields of Comics and Children's Literature, THE ART OF BONE will serve as an eye-popping introduction to one of the finest authors in any field.
The latest hardcover project from Dark Horse Comics, THE ART OF
BONE is a feast of information. Detailing why and how Smith became
a cartoonist, the book showcases his interest from schooldays to professional practice decades later.
Rich in Smith's probing, versatile illustrations, the volume
pinpoints the essential and unique balancing act which the
Sequential author must play between narrative and visualizing.
In an era where too many throw all their logs on one fire,
showboating without focus or meaning, the success of a skillful talespinner with much to say and share with all is as refreshing
as it is encouraging.
A stirring, insightful whimsy worthy of Walt Kelly (Pogo) and
Charles Schulz (Peanuts) is complemented by reflective pathos and
intense character interplay that Will Eisner (Sundiata, The Spirit)
could take great pride in.
In Jeff Smith's aesthetic, a tale can cross all boundaries, whether through animated cunning or larger-than-life Fantasy, and bring its points effectively home.
Whether lost in the wilderness, or deep in the throes of a life-shaping
quest, the imperative of journey informs the heart Smith's work. THE
ART OF BONE is a delightful look into the way of that path, and how much fun using one's head can be.
Very uplifting, in fact, for the heart and soul.
Give it a read.
Give it several.
Although his storytelling, pacing (both dramatic and comedic), and world-building are among the best ever exhibited in comics, it is for Jeff Smith's art that most Bone fans truly drool. Although it's somewhat trite to throw comparisons to Walt Kelly around when discussing Smith's opus, it is nonetheless appropriate; not since Pogo has there been such gorgeous line quality, such playful mastery of black and white form. His characters, as simple as they are, only serve to demonstrate what a master of movement and emotion Smith really is, and his humans, animals, and environments belay his keen eye for capturing the real world.
This book is the ultimate companion for anyone who loves Smith's art. From a surprisingly good Bone comic drawn at age ten through the "Thorn" comic strip drawn for his college paper to the comics to the coloring of the Scholastic editions, the book follows the Bone saga artistically as it develops, throwing in side stories previously collected only in the long out-of-print "Bone Reader" and other wonderful asides - a cartoon tribute to Walt Kelly, etc.
Smith's artwork is perhaps THE best comic art from the 1990s, and it deserves this lovingly assembled edition.
Open it and it just gets better. I always read the foreword of the books I read. And the dedications when present. Heck, I even check the copyright. I tend to wait until I'm done before reading mini-biographies of the authors because I prefer to read books without having first coloured my perceptions (too much). It is not a rule I always stick to however. Good thing.
This book is a mini-tour of Jeff's mind. (I *can* call him Jeff you know. Like Stephen [King], he's slept next to me and been the first page I see in the morning). And what a lovely tour it is. Full of fertile hills and verdant valleys.
And the scenery (the art people - trying to keep up the metaphor here) - stunning. There might very well be art that is repetitive of the books. I did not notice. My nephew surely will. But given the frequency at which he re-reads the Bone books, I don't think he will care.
I bought this book for him (my nephew) who on Thanksgiving Day 2008 told the family he was thankful for "Jeff Smith writer of the Bone books". How does it better than that for any author?
I'm thankful to Jeff Smith myself, for fostering a young boy's imagination. I am also thankful for what on December 25th is likely to be Smith's most recent achievement - making this aunt the hit of Christmas gift unwrapping.
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