This one throws us straight into the season of winter solstice with Thorn and Fone Bone coming back with the tree they’re going to set in the house for a night. Smiley isn’t certain whether they celebrate the solstice in Boneville, when Phoney speaks up and says they do, for different reasons. Phoney goes on to mention his reasons having to do with monetary value. Fone takes this moment to go back out into the woods with a little tray, looking for someone until they pop up voluntarily and we see it’s the rat creatures still ready to kill Fone, instead accepting Fone’s gift of quiche.
After the short holiday comic, we get an interview with the creator, Jeff Smith. They first ask where he’d gotten the idea, which is covered in almost every selection. Being, from childhood and his visiting with family in summers where they had cartoons playing all day whilst in Ohio it was only Saturday morning. He goes on to mention the creative environment he’d had with visits to his grandmother’s and the all day cartoon binges. He created Fone Bone at the same age, along with hundreds of others, the one sticking in his mind through then and going slight bit of physical change. A childhood friend came up with Phoney Bone in response to his Fone Bone and Smiley came soon after, this all happening in the third grade. The interviewer then likens the three Bones to Mickey, Donald and Goofy, which Smith agrees, but didn’t plan on it to happen, but other cartoons follow those archetypes of personality as well, like Peanuts and Looney Tunes. Then they move onto the types of comic books Smith had read, first being Uncle Scrooge, then moving onto the superheroes like Batman, Green Lantern, etc., anything Neal Adams, but by seventh grade had “moved on” from comic reading.
This interview goes on for a few pages so I’ll give highlights. Smith goes on to mention some Disney comics, the longer ones being quite good. Then talks of some art teachers, whilst encouraging his interest in art, didn’t support his want of being a comic artist, one teacher going so far as stopping him from going to Disney. Smith did realize later this teacher was right, he needing to do his own cartoons. He gets a scholarship to Columbus College of Art and Design, but again there wasn’t any place for cartoonists. Soon he’s hating on Modern Art, talking of its origins describing Picasso and how brilliant he was, but then continuing on how others thought they got the style and it began to fail. Likening comic book artists like Frank Miller and Alan Moore being the fore-front of gritty realistic superheroes and the copycats not “getting it”. Except for Dark Knight and Watchmen, then saying after it wasn’t understood by the other cartoonists. Smith realized he couldn’t join fine or commercial arts which pushed him into his niche of continuing his cartoons. In Ohio State University, Smith and a friend ended up messing around with the sports scoreboard which only did the usual “CHARGE!” and what-not, making little cartoons when another guy who knew how to work an animation camera got interested and joined up with them doing odd jobs for the area, soon starting their own company and eventually doing films, like Ferngully, Rover Dangerfield, and Bebe’s Kids, which was the end of cartooning for Smith due to doing Bone at the time, selling his share in the company to his partners. They were going to make a Bone short, but he wanted to keep it in the paper realm, it being a “huge undertaking”.
Then he read The Tick and noticed how black and white comics were popular, at this time being 1988, but soon realizes there had been a real downfall of black and white comics during then, as well. Not knowing of it and making the first year of trying to get up and running difficult, but it began to move along after. Then he talks of how he’d gotten certain “celebs” of the comic world to give a quote for his comics. We also know Smith won’t be showing Boneville, being the reader will do a better job of it than he can and he’s sharing a different story, of leaving a sheltered life to go out into the “real world”. Then he goes on to say the Bone series would go on for as long as the story is there, not set on a certain length, but waiting for the story to wind itself down naturally and when it does, he has a set ending. Smith also mentions not planning on showing the cow race, but how it “just had to happen”. He talks also of how the pauses where a picture is shown gives the reader a moment to contemplate the characters thoughts and how it’s fun to draw, as much as an explosion is. The interview is ended with advice to self-publishers: Do your homework.
Then an early Bone comic is shown. First is a short with the Hooded One looking on, thinking he’s finally got Phoney Bone, when Fone shows up and he has to stay where he is. The next is of Phoney talking to a pig whom thinks he’s a bunny, but how the pig seems to have murder on his mind. They let him out and Fone goes for a knife in retaliation, but is slung near the pig again, who apparently is supposed to be Russian, calling Fone “Babushka”, which is odd. Then we have a scene with Gran’ma Ben wondering why she can’t hear Phoney “shooting’ off his mouth”. The man eases her mind by telling her they must be in the sun room, knowing the importance of their meeting. The last is of the Bones invading a man’s apartment with the dragon. This was an odd collection, but still informative and entertaining.