Those who have been scandalized by my endorsement of such comics as "Kill Your Boyfriend" and "Poison Elves" will no doubt be shocked by my deep, dark secret: one of my favorite comics in the whole wide world is an "all ages" comic.
It's called "Bone," and it's hot. Some people have been comparing it to "Pogo," which is just silly, really - except for a superficial visual resemblance, they have little in common. "Bone" is more like Carl Barks' Duck books, by way of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Bones are at least as cute as Disney cartoon characters, and there's little here even the most prudish parent could object to. It's true that Bone takes a bath in the river with a naked young woman named Thorn (he's naked, too, but he doesn't wear any clothes anyway). But neither of their bodies are shown, just her clothing on the bank, while we listen to their word balloons. More importantly, the entire tone of the scene is innocent, like Donna Reed in the bushes in "It's a Wonderful Life."
But will kids like it? I gave "Bone" to my 8-year-old daughter. She read through the first two collections and the remaining six comic books in one weekend, and wanted to read more. "It's cool," she affirmed.
"Bone" is not "for" children, any more than the Bugs Bunny cartoons of the 40s were "for" children. The particular charm of this book is that it makes the industry category "all ages" live up to its name: if you're six or if you're sixty, this is a comic book that is too good to miss.
"Bone, Volume 1: Out From Boneville" is published by Cartoon Books in hardcover for $19.95 and should be available in bookstores in August. If you're really lucky, you might find the out-of-print trade paperback in a comic book store for $12.95. The second collection is still available at that price, and the third collection will be out in the fall. Recent issues of the original comic book should be available at your comic book store - if they aren't, complain.
If $20.00 seems a lot for cartoon book with these funny-looking white guys on the front, just consider that near-mint condition copies of the first printings of the first six comic books themselves would run you a cool $220. So save yourself some money. Buy "Bone" now.
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