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Headscratchers: Bone
  • Why does thorn have her pants down when fone bone meets her?
    • Because she's getting ready to take a bath in the hot springs. You wouldn't keep your pants on when you were taking a bath, now would you?
  • BONE being made into a computer-generated movie with MOTION CAPTURE!
  • Can I just say that the ending really kind of bugs me in general? For all its dark moments, Bone always felt like the kind of comic that deserved "smiles and a happy ending" as Watsuki (creator of Rurouni Kenshin, kind of a stupidly obscure reference to make here, but I like the phrase) would put it. I mean, did a lot of the characters have completely irreconcilable wishes? Yes. But I never felt like the story was really about the Bones as cousins/their status as outsiders/their desire to stay united and return home. That was what Phoney's story was about, to be sure (when it was serious), but Fone's story was always more focused on his relationship with Thorn, and Smiley's sort of wound up focusing on Bartleby. Granted I'm not sure that splitting up the Bones would have been a better ending, and I could understand Jeff Smith not wanting to draw a scenario in which Fone "gets the girl," seeing as they're clearly not the same species. But we're never actually given any sense of what sorts of lives the Bones had back in Boneville, aside from a few descriptions of Phoney's antics. Contrastingly, we -do- see them basically build lives in the valley over the course of their adventures. So Phoney's fixation on returning to Boneville (I'm convinced that Smiley has nowhere near that strong a desire to return—he seems willing to just go with the flow) comes off as... basically hollow, like his general greed/scheming. The logical story progression seemed to me to be the discovery of the Bones that their old lives didn't mean that much to them, compared to this place they've just helped to save. So the "everyone is ironically unhappy" ending felt like a very ill fit. And really, I know Jeff Smith was always good at juxtaposing seriousness and comedy, but I don't think it's a good idea to do a completely heartrending scene and then swap back to gags for the last page or so... it's sort of tonal dissonance to me, kinda like the ending of Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog. I know part of it is just me whining because Thorn and Fone's goodbye is such a downer, but the story just didn't seem like it was building towards a bittersweet-unhappy ending. I mean, Bone is often compared to Lord of the Rings, and yeah, Frodo saves the world only to have to leave it behind, but that story was always about how those who fight evil are always damaged irrevocably by the struggle (and if we go back to the whole idea that LOTR is a metaphor for Tolkein's experiences in WWII...). Bone didn't have that kind of theme going for it, it sort of had a lot more about relationships and family/adopted family. So maybe there's a thematic reason for certain people to split up and not others, but the bittersweet ending was certainly not a thematic necessity (and I mean, Bone was a really good story but it never seemed like it had all that much theme to it anyway, at least not beyond a sort of Star Wars level). I dunno, anyone else? [/textwall]
    • My take, to be honest, is that on a meta level, the Bones could never have stayed in the valley because they're not from the right kind of story. The Bones come from a toonworld; the main story takes place in a Tolkienesque fantasy world. They can cross over for the duration of the main plot, but they can't stay forever because they don't really run on the same rules of physics as the rest of the valley's inhabitants.
    • I figured the Bones would inevitably return home, but I agree, Thorn and Fone Bone parting ways was a HUGE downer. I literally cried the first time I read it. But I'm relatively alright with the ending, because you know they'll never forget each other... plus, if Fone had stayed, it would undermine his relationship with his cousins heavily. I mean, it makes me think of when Fone first meets Thorn and doesn't seem to even know what Boneville is. Anyway, long story short, it's not the best ending ever, but it's at least fitting.
    • I side with whoever posted this one. I figured that the logical ending would be for them to stay in the valley. Heck, Smith could've had Phoney take over the Barrelhaven. Considering that's what Phoney wanted all along, that would be a rather poignant arc for him.
    • I'm kinda torn here—I do agree that they probably did need to head back to Boneville, but...them staying might have been a better ending than what we got. The return was too abrupt: if they'd been finally getting ready to head home when the main dramatic plot finally hit, it would have made sense for it to end with them heading back to Boneville. If they'd decided during it that, if they made it through, they'd go back to Boneville, it'd have worked fine. Actually, just a throwaway of "And now let's leave before Phoney wears out our welcome!" would have gone far...
    • Any work inspired by The Lord of the Rings is almost obligated to have a Bittersweet Ending. Aside from the usual difficulties of any Interspecies Romance, Bone's affection was for Thorn, the village girl who likes honey and talks to bugs. She has been forced to grow up fast - she's a freakin' queen with superpowers! Her responsibility is to her kingdom: his responsibility is to his family (let's face it, he's The Reliable One and the Only Sane Man). Letting go of the relationship and drifting into the two different worlds they're heading toward isn't the standard Hollywood ending, but it's not a bad ending.
  • What the heck was going on in that scene where Fone and Thorn touch the Crown of Horns, and they end up inside Fone's head, with that tiny light in the distance?
    • Too much forward for me, but I bet it has something to do with Dreams, doesn't it? Also, you might remember the scene in Ghost Circles where Fone is swallowed by the Great Red Dragon, we see a tiny light in the distance at the end. I might conclude, though, that that's a continuation of Fone's dream.
    • I assumed that Bone and Thorn (or, at least, Bone,) temporarily died. The light Bone sees is the light so often described after near-death experiences(/heaven). This explains the warm feeling Bone has and the reason why Thorn, becoming alive again through her magic-ness, says it's "Really hard to come back."
    • I think she actually says "if we go that way we can't come back," so they were at least "between life and death." Which is where the realm of dreaming is, if I recall correctly, so there's that. But I think Fone being inside his own head was probably just a further "spirit" sort of thing, showing that he's at a level of "spiritual being," where he becomes aware of his "soul" as distinct from his body, and that his body is simply a vessel to contain it. Or else because the two were starting to separate (i.e. the dying bit). Something of that nature seems reasonable, anyway.
    • I think that Fone was dying from contact with the Crown, given that he A) didn't have any of the Locust in him, and B) wasn't a gifted dreamer like Thorn. Thorn, having purged the Locust through Fone, then pulled him back from his near death.
  • How was Kingdok able to talk after losing his tongue?
    • He didn't lose his throat, did he? He still could pass air from his lungs to his vocal cords perfectly. He just couldn't articulate very right.
      • You technically can still talk after losing your tongue, but you will completely lose the ability to pronounce a lot of consonants, so although certain words will still be pronounceable, most speech would be incomprehensible. It's surprising how much speech relies on the tongue.
    • In all honesty, it was a fluctuating bit of continuity on the part of Jeff Smith. First, Kingdok shows up at the meeting between the Hooded One and Roque Ja, and he's unable to speak. (This allows Roque Ja the killer one-liner, "Cat got your tongue?", as he stands on exactly that.) Then, at the failed blood-moon sacrifice, Kingdok clearly and without trouble speaks, accusing the Hooded One of screwing up his people's standing with the Lord of the Locust. Mere moments later, as the mountain explodes after the failed sacrifice, Kingdok is back to being almost incapable of speech, muttering "GILL YOU" in an attempt to say "kill you". Finally, in Thorn's last confrontation with Kingdok at the Crown of Horns, Kingdok speaks without any trouble again, under Rule of Drama reasons for his big final scene with her. Suffice to say, this series of back'n'forth changes implies that Smith, for all his other excellences, couldn't quite decide on what he wanted to do with Kingdok's speech capabilities.
      • To be fair, with "GILL YOU" I was under the impression (possibly from some other cues? It's been a while) that Kingdok was only able to correctly sound out words with immense effort/concentration, like how certain speech impediments can be momentarily concealed by concentrating carefully on what you're saying. So when he's ENRAGED suddenly, he stops paying attention and doesn't correct for his lack of tongue. Mind you, I don't think you -can- correct for not having a tongue with sheer effort, but that was what the intent seemed to be when I first read that scene. Doesn't explain the ending, however (maybe if he had his arm back we could believe the Locust healed him to give him a shot at success in his final mission... actually, I wonder if that scene could have been more interesting/tragic if he had been unable to speak at all... communicating the ideas of "one of us must kill the other," and "look at me, I used to be a king..." purely through action/expression).
    • Maybe rat creatures are members of the parrot family and don't rely on their tongues for enunciation.
  • So, how exactly do Rat Creatures get their pointy ears? Bartleby didn't have them, at least until Ghost Cirlces, as far as I can tell...
    • Bartleby himself says that getting their ears cropped like that is part of a Rat Creature's rite of passage into adulthood. The fact that he didn't want to do that is part of the reason he leaves the Creature's ranks.
  • What's the deal with Kingdok? I mean, he gets uglier and uglier each chapter, and I'm not only talking about the fact that he's sure creepy without one arm...
    • It's more that Kingdok is just the most obvious example of Smith's artistic skills improving over time. While we aren't able to perceive the more subtle changes to characters that we are exposed to more often - e.g. Smiley Bone's nose swelling and becoming curved - we see Kingdok rarely, so it seems more obvious that he's morphed into a giant ugly head with legs.
      • I actually looked through and studied this change, and it actually isn't a slow, steady morph like I expected. Kingdok is first shown in Out from Boneville as a giant rat creature with big legs, a small triangular-ish head with a neck that effectively separates his body from it, a good-sized mouth, and eyes close together. He doesn't appear in The Great Cow Race, and becomes the "giant ugly head with legs" as soon as he appears in Eye of the Storm, complete with a massive ovular cranium that does not have a clear point where it meets his body, eyes almost on opposite sides of his head, smaller arms and legs, and an even bigger mouth. He doesn't change anymore after that. In general, though, I think all rat creatures kind of change at the same rate, except in my opinion they were all uglier to start with (including Kingdok). They get less scary-looking after Out from Boneville, and pretty soon they actually look cute.
  • And far more important: what are the Bones? They seem to be some sort of people, as you can see one big burly Bone-like person at the ending of Stupid Rat-Tails, but why do they all seem to have the same last name? And how is it that, them being apparently more advanced that the people of the valley, they never heard about the valley or anything from outside Boneville?
    • The ones shown all have the same last name because they're alll in the same family.
    • They're basically Toons from Disney/Warner's Toon Town who stumble onto live-action Middle-Earth in their backyard.
      • That's the ovious "real" answer. I'm looking for a in-story explanantion or whatever. And specially, how they never noticed the "live-action Middle-Earth in their backyard".
      • That big desert apparently prevented both sides from exploring and discovering the existence of the other.
    • Jeff Smith has outright stated that Lord of the Rings was a big, big influence on his works, and the Bones are probably without question his version of Hobbits. From the hints the Fone, Phoney, and Smiley have given about Boneville - plus the fact that they are apparently familiar with much more advanced technology than those in the Valley - it sounds like a near-direct Expy of Hobbiton.
      • They are also white, oversized smurfs. The species surnames and the modernisms in middle-ages settings add to the similarity. They have very different economical views though...
    • Easy. They're literally bones; albeit sentient, humanoid bones. Take a look at the head and the nose of the characters sideways. Those are the little humpy-thingies that actual bones always seem to be drawn with.
  • Whatever happened to the Possums? The three Baby Possums play important supporting roles in the "Rock Jaw" storyline, and afterwards they're never mentioned again. The obvious (and most depressing) answer is that they died in the "destruction" of the valley, but it was a little disappointing that the last issue of the comic contained absolutely no reference to them. I kept hoping for the Possum family (the Baby Possums now grown) to show up and say their last goodbyes to the Bones along with Ted and the Dragon...
  • What happened to Mim when all the dragons brought her down? Is Deren Gard a lot more cramped now? Is she now BEEEEFFFF JERRRRKKKKKYYY?
    • I have the same question. I assume they did finish the Locust — or, at least, send it back to its original dreaming dimension — and Mim is now living with the rest of the dragons again. Or dead. Who knows.
  • Everyone keeps talking about "the end of the world", so what about Boneville? It's part of the world, I suppose, so did ghost circles descend on Boneville and kill everybody except Fone, Phoney and Smiley? Did Thorn fix Boneville indirectly, if that did happen?
    • Everytime I read Bone I have the strange impression that the people there have a no sense of scale. The world can't be just as big as the valley, as it seems to be portrayed(even in the creation myth; a dragon that circled the world biting its tail would not become just a valley, it would become a at least moon). The same thing can be said to the Bones: even apparently coming from a more advanced and "toon present" civilization, their maps don't go as far as the mountain range before the Dragon Stairway. So, either they live in different worlds joined by "skybox-like" dimensional portals, or they just have no sense of scale, and the Ghost Circles never appeared outside the valley/Atheia region.
    • It's entirely possible that the world of the series isn't really all that much like Earth. Trying to think of it in physical terms is a mistake. The apparently objectively true creation myth has the world born out of dreams. One part of the world has living cartoon people, and even the "more serious" part of the world, the Valley, has tons of talking animals. It is almost self-consciously fictional, a meta-world whose building blocks are literally stories, not atoms. While the Locust could destroy the entire world, the actual drama of the end can only play out in the Valley where the Waking World is closest to the Dreaming, because it's the only place it makes sense in its own context for said drama to play out. If the world ended Boneville would go as well, but it would blink out in an instant in the manner of a dream upon awakening, without the slightest sign of anything like ghost circles.
  • If they were kicked out of Boneville, then why were they working so hard to get back?
    • Because they had lives there. They weren't exactly "kicked out" Boneville more than "chased off". Besides, I guess it'd be less dangerous to deal with an angry mob of (civilized, I suppose) citizens then... whatever they found at the valley.
    • Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. You know, you run away and then come into a hostile place where someone wants to kill you (or one of your cousins). Which would you prefer?
    • At one point early in the comic, Smiley makes references to previous times Phoney had gotten them all chased out of Boneville, so it seems like fairly standard procedeure for them: Run away from the angry mob, hide somewhere remote until the heat dies down, then sneak back into town when the townspeople aren't feeling so murderous anymore. Only this time they got involved in a big fantasy adventure instead and ended up away from Boneville for over a year.
      • If anything, the Here We Go Again ending might imply this wasn't even the first time they got involved in a crazy, epic adventure when they got chased out of town.
      • Maybe next time they go to the other edge of the desert, where they find a colony of space-faring aliens...
  • What was wrong with Kingdok's face during his final confrontation with Thorn? It looked like half of it had been corroded down to the skull with acid or something...
    • I assumed that he banged up his face bad, stumbling around in the dark caves.
  • OK, Thorn is trying to get into Deren Gard to touch the Crown of Horns, an army of rat creatures is charging to stop her, she runs right at them ... and alluva sudden she can FLY?? Swoops right over their heads and onto the upper slopes ... what the hey???
    • Bartleby says it best: "It's like soemthing out of a dream..." It's another sign of her powers awakening to their fullest.
    • More or less, I was under the impression it was a dream-like ability. Dreams are huge in their religion as stated, and Thorn's expression looked like she was still a tad dreamy or tired.
  • Why would Phoney Bone want to leave? If anything, he should be encouraging Fone to hook up with Thorn. If they were to marry, Phoney would be related to royalty and that could give him some big advantages when he makes schemes.
    • He probably just didn't consider it. And even if he did think Fone had a chance with Thorn, remember that Phony already had the treasure that he found in the well—by this point, he had already made his fortune, so he was more concerned about getting back to Boneville. If Fone married Thorn, that would be another delay to their return.
    • Consider also the technological difference between the two civilizations. Boneville is described as being roughly on par with the late 20th Century as far as things like frozen food and other luxuries go. The Valley, however, seems to be stuck in the Middle Ages. Phoney might not have been able to make the adjustment as well as his cousins could.
  • The deletion of the What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? list, shown below...
    • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Disney Adventures somehow considered this comic appropriate for their target demographic and ran excerpts from the first six issues. Needless to say, it suffered some Bowdlerization in the form of all uses of the words "God" and "beer" being changed to "Gosh" and "soda". Also, they cut out the scene where Fone Bone helps Thorn take a bath, as well as Phoney's first encounter with the Hooded One.
    • Jeff Smith's original intended audience for the comic was older readers that were nostalgia for old school cartoons like the Carl Barks Scrooge comics, and Pogo's strips that were usually all age adventures (as well as a break from the Dark age comics) and perhaps Tolkein readers, the usual college age to thirties somethings male nerds that hang out in comic book stores, which we're the only pace to get self-published comics at that time.
      • This troper would point out that, ironically, it was Disney Adventures that introduced Bone to him, and as such, would never have followed independent comics without those issues. It's certain that many other tropers apply here.
      • History seems to be repeating itself now that Scholastic has been promoting the color editions to grade-school teachers for classroom reading. It's got to have something to do with the cuteness of the Bones.
      • In my case, Scholastic were the ones that introduced me to the series when I saw "Rock Jaw" i a book catalog my school gave me, and I was in middle school at the time. It was funny; I read the Scholastic editions of the first five (the ones that are the least dark and perilous in my opinion, though "Eyes of the Storm" got close. It made it seem like it was basically grade-school level stuff.) Then, I discovered the original non-color versions and read the rest of the series in black and white so I wouldn't have to wait for the new ones. The tone of those books was very different, but then I got all the other Scholastic ones as they came out and was happy to see no Bowdlerization, basically just subtle edits that improved weird-sounding lines.
      • Honestly, this series technically should be for kids, as it's about a light PG-13 as far as content. Basically it's Don Bluth-level stuff.
      • The Bowdlerization of the tavern scene pretty much sums up why Bowdlerization is a bad idea: someone thought the best replacement for Phoney's original "I'm in deep shit" dialog was some nonsensical line about lactose intolerance.
      • Okay, I've read the barroom scene several times now, both in the first Out From Boneville hardcover collection, the one-volume omnibus, and the colorized version, and I can't see any lines about either "deep shit" or lactose intolerance. Phoney does mention dairy products, but it's when discovering that the villagers pay with eggs, upon which it's very natural (and very in character) to tell Smiley that he doesn't carry dairy products. I do notice that Smiley's reference to Phoney's "school of lamaze and bungee-jumping" has been cut in the later printings, though, and the replacement line varies. I'll admit I haven't read the original printing of the issue or the Disney Adventures reprint, so it's possible the mentioned shit/lactose lines were found there, but I can't see where they would have been. Anyone care to help me here?
  • I've read in several places on this wiki that Phoney becomes less greedy and selfish as the story goes on. How exactly? Even as the Locust's forces are about to overthrow Atheia, kill everyone inside and seal the fate of the world, he plans to steal the city's treasure and escape from the ghost circle-surrounded city. It's the most villainous plan he came up with in the whole story, not to say the stupidest one.
    • I think the main thing is that he doesn't become less greedy — he's still more than willing to take off with a treasure that isn't rightfully his (somewhat lamely justifying it with a "finders keepers" argument), but he does arguably develop somewhat of a conscience, at least where his cousins are concerned. In The Dragonslayer, he's willing to ditch Fone and Smiley and return to Boneville on his own, but when given the same choice by Gran'ma Ben just before the final battle, he says (somewhat reluctantly) that he can't leave them behind. True, he wouldn't have escaped with much treasure that time around, but it does show that he has become less selfish... or at least less prone to make up excuses for his behavior so he won't have to do the right thing. The old Phoney would have only thought of saving his own skin and justified it to himself with "I haven't seen them for the last five minutes anyway, so they probably left without me."
  • If Mim was big and long enough to stretch around the whole planet, why was she so significantly smaller during her battle with the other dragons, and especially when she is brought back?
    • The only explanations I can think of are a partially Unreliable Narrator; either that or the bits of mythology about Mim circling the planet are exaggerated. Since Rose said she hoped the legends of the bottomless Tanen Gard were exaggerated; this may imply that not all of the mythology is taken seriously among those trained in the dreaming. But, Rose is notably secular compared to say, Thorn or the Dreaming Masters.
  • Phoney refers to eggs as "dairy products." Cows do not lay eggs, and furthermore, they were obviously chicken eggs.
    • It's actually a very common misconception: Because eggs are an animal byproduct, just like milk, many people wrongly categorize eggs as dairy. Phoney is obviously one of these people, and I can't imagine Smiley would know better either.
  • I'm only on Volume 3, but is it ever explained what ages the Bone cousins are? Fone Bone is old enough to light a match and be away from home without mention of any family, but young enough to have a crush on Thorn?
    • Their ages are never mentioned, but Phoney is old enough to run for Mayor and to have owned his own business at some point. As for their family, Fone states at one point that the 3 are orphaned cousins, so they are all the family that they have.
    • It's also mentioned at least one time that Phoney is the oldest, and the other two were presumably young enough that Phoney had to take care of them when they were first orphaned.
  • One bit that bugs me is Lucius 'outwitting' Phone Bone at the cow race. Phoney, as bookmaker, has the right to refuse the bet - he doesn't have to accept Lucius' offer. Kinda weakens the following craziness of the race for me.
    • Phoney had already, several times, made it clear that he wanted Lucius to make a bet, even going so far as to ask him if he was going to bet his entire bar, and telling Lucius that he kept the booth open a little longer especially for him. Yes, he could have refused the bet, but how would that have looked when he himself several times had been nagging Lucius to take that very same bet? Ultimately, it was Phoney's own greed and over-reliance on his ability to manipulate people that did him in; if he'd left Lucius alone, he could have refused the bet, saying something like "no no, I can't in good conscience allow you to bet your entire bar" and then let the entire thing run its course. Instead he panics and ends up in a heap of trouble.
    • He doesn't have to pretend it's conscience. Lucius wasn't making the bet he was hoping he would. When he put such a large bet on Gran'ma Ben, and was expecting a 100-to-1 payoff, Phoney could've just said, "I can't cover that, bet something smaller." Phoney usually seems pretty smart, his other flaws aside, so it seemed sorta out-of-character for him to freeze up like that.
    • My understanding of it was simple shock. He'd been getting supper excited about winning the entire bar in a rigged race, and then Lucius throws a huge curve-ball at him. It was like his brain was going from fourth gear to first with no in-between. By the time he could speak again, Lucius had left and Phoney had a bet he could never pay off in a million years.
    • Besides, Phoney directly, and at least twice, told Lucius that he should bet the entire bar. ("A well-to-do man like yourself must be thinking of making a wager on th' race — a really, really big wager! Like... oh, say... your entire bar!") Phoney simply got too greedy and overconfident that his scheme would work, and then couldn't back out of it without it becoming too suspicious.
  • Maybe this should be a Wild Mass Guessing question but... How would Herman Melville live in the Bone Universe? Does this work of fantasy actually take place in the future? Is the Herman Meville of this universe actually a Bone citizen?
    • It clearly takes place in the present day; Boneville is certainly a modern society (Phoney mentions nuclear rectors at one point, Smiley is mentioned to read comic books). Given how the Bones don't seem surprised about the humans' appearance, we can surmise that humans and Bones co-exist outside the valley, possibly with the Bones having their own societies and cities. So it's certainly not too big a stretch that they know of Herman Melville or would have access to all the books and entertainment options that modern-day humans would. It's just the valley, which is cut off from the rest of the world, that's stuck in Medieval Stasis.


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