I was at Barnes + Noble yesterday, looking for stuff to read for free, but there wasn't much so I decided to go for a fluke. I'd seen individual issues of Bone around at Golden Age Collectibles and other comic-type stores before, but it never looked interesting to me. Kinda weak art, I thought, and not much ever seems to happen. Well, I was wrong. I picked up a one-volume edition of all the Bone comics, adding up to a Stephen King-worthy 1330 pages. Thats a THOUSAND pages of a comic, and I read it all over the last 24 hours. I'd like to say, "That's just how good it is!!" But really the reason I read it all is because I have little to do. In any case, it really is very good.
Bone chronicles the adventures of these three little guys - Fone, Phoney, and Smiley Bone - after they stumble into a huge valley full of strange creatures and ancient civilizations. It starts out as just them finding one another and surviving, but soon a much larger plot starts emerging, as you might expect in a work of this length. Without spoiling anything, there is a plot by some major players to restart the ages-old war between the men and the rat-creatures. That's just the beginning of it, of course, and with the exception of a small period of time in the beginning, every second of every character is accounted for. The story is very epic fantasy fare, reminding me of the kind of archetypical fantasy story of hidden potential realized in a period of historic significance (outbreaks of wars and such). The Lord of the Rings books all have this, as do more recent things which draw from them, like the Matrix. The whole story is a single narrative, really quite focused in its telling - things which seem irrelevant on page 350 may come into play 5 pages later, or 500.
The downside of this edition is that the art is in black and white. I actually wrote a paragraph criticizing the art (short version: old-fashioned and good but occasionally the story is too big for the style) but having not read the original version I have replaced it with this one. From what I understand, the original art was in full and glorious color, but with individual color volumes going for 20 bucks, a full-color one-volume edition would run you just shy of $200! So, while the decision to decolorize, like with Akira, may be a practical one, you lose a lot of the effect of the art. Looking back, I'm kind of sad that I didn't know this in the first place, but for an impulse buy this was a real treasure.