22 March 2008

Magic Bone

The Complete Bone
Jeff Smith

This week's reading was the immense tome that is Jeff Smith's glorious work of fiction, The Complete Bone. Much of the discussion had to do with the subject of "all-ages" comics--what makes them so, and things of that ilk. Several reasons were given, at least for Bone. No sex. Expressive character art. Lots of humor.

What I think is important, though, is the immensity of the story. It reads quickly, because of all the pictures, but it's still nine volumes long. It's a genuine epic fantasy, and it's for sort of for children, which is something I think we need more of. There are children's series, including long-running monthlies like Animorphs, but you can't buy most of those in one huge volume. That is restricted to books for grown-ups.

comes in one huge volume, and yet I think I could provoke a child to read all of it. They're putting out color versions targeted just at kids, but I don't even think I'd need that. The art is cool without color, and honestly the coloring is a little weird. It has action and adventure and comedy and fighting and stupid, stupid rat creatures, and also romance that doesn't involve any kissing, which is a big selling point for children.

It is awesome for children in the same way that opera can be awesome for children; kids like stuff that's a little bit dark and scary and gross. Kingdok could probably give a kid nightmares, but then he gets defeated, and Briar is creepy but silly and weird at the same time. It's a story that's big and scary and intense, but then the good guys win. And it's good for teaching concepts, I think--at least, for teaching kids why it's good to be like Fone Bone and not at all like Phoney. It's like The Neverending Story, which is a beautiful epic story that children should read so that they can learn the value of retaining their imaginations and remembering who they are.

Someday I'm going to make my children read Bone. Children should read more. Bone is good for that.

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