Jeff Smith's remarkable independent comic continues, having reached #20, seen its first 18 issues reprinted in trade paperbacks, and moved to Image Comics from Smith's own label, Cartoon Books.
Reviewed September 1995
Briefly, the Bone cousins (Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone) were chased out of their home town in a far-off (and seemingly technologically-advanced, at least compared to where they are in the book) land. The three are short, white, and have big, cartoony schnozzes. They find themselves in a great forested valley populated with humans, evil rat creatures, and various fantasy beings. Separated, Fone Bone meets up with the young woman Thorn (whom he falls for) and her Gran'ma. Phoney and Smiley ultimately end up working for a tavern, and Phoney begins scheming to make money, particularly by trying to rig the Great Cow Race. It all comes to a head in the second collection, and is a lot of fun.
Once the Great Cow Race had concluded, the book slowed down dramatically; there were issues that basically seemed to comprise only one or two scenes, and the comic seemed suddenly much less funny than it had once been. However, it has recently picked up somewhat, as several new plot elements have opened up: Thorn and Gran'ma are revealed to be royalty, and the rat creatures are still hot on their trail. And the connection between Fone Bone, Thorn, and the red dragon is slowly becoming clearer. It's hard to tell where it will
all end up; hopefully Smith will bring some threads to a conclusion in the next year or so, and prevent the book from becoming The Never-Ending Story like Cerebus often seems to be. However, it's an enjoyable book, and definitely worth picking up.