I hope you’ve taken the time to delve into the world of free web comics like Gronk, but if you and your children are ready to hold some actual comics in your hands, now is the time to learn about Bone!

Title: Bone

Creator: Jeff Smith

Age Recommendation: 6 and Up

How big is Bone?  If you do a Google search for the work “Bone,” the official website is the first thing to pop up.  Not some medical site, or wikipedia about skeletons, but a comic book called Bone.

Often referenced as “Tolkien-esque,”  Jeff Smith began self publishing his independent super smash hit Bone in 1991.  Over the next 13 years, 55 irregularly published issues came out, each one gaining Bone greater popularity and more and more awards.  Since 1993, Bone has received 21 Harvey and Eisner Awards statues and another dozen or so nominations.  Not to mention countless top ten lists and critical acclaim from across the globe.  Time magazine once described the book “as sweeping as the Lord of the Rings cycle, but much funnier” and named it number three on it’s list of the 10 best graphic novels of all time (English).  In other words, Bone is a unanimous all star of comics.

Once you crack open Bone, inside you will find the Tolkien parallels well earned.  The excitement begins with the three Bone cousins being run out of Boneville and heading out into uncharted territory.  They meet dragons, humans, rat creatures, and all manner of life as they explore the “Valley” with a wonderful concoction of slapstick humor and crazy adventures.  Now, I will say that while I list this as appropriate for six and up, some parents have expressed concern over certain themes and implications present in the text.  Like all good family entertainment, elements of Bone do wink at older sensibilities, but never in a manner obvious enough to hinder the wholesome enjoyment of your children.  Check the book out for yourself and I think you’ll find the plots full of wonder and adventure enough for everyone in your home.

Finding the 55 single issues of Bone is something best left to your kids when they’re old enough to attempt the search themselves… and with their own money!  Thankfully, Bone is currently available in nine volumes from Scholastic priced around a very reasonable $10 each.  Considering how easy these stories are to revisit and enjoy over and over again, I find the cost to be well worth it.  However, you can save a little coin by opting for the Eisner Award winning, 1,332 page single volume collection for around $40.  The main difference between the two is color.  The trade volumes are in full color and let me tell you, the world of Bone looks incredible in full color, while the super one volume book is in the original black and white.  It’s a matter of preference really, as both obviously feature the strongest aspect of the series, terrific storytelling.

There is an absolute wealth of knowledge to help you catch up on Bone over at Smith’s website.  You’ll be an expert in no time, capable of answering any question your new little Bone fan can throw at you!  There’s even tons of great gifts from kids shirts, to plush toys, guide books, and The Cartoonist DVD, a documentary about Jeff and Bone!  I didn’t pick up Bone until I was 33, and I immediately became a devoted fan.  I think you’ll find yourself and your children feeling the same way after you discover this wonderful world.