When you see something that received high praise when it first appeared, it can disappoint you. If it was the peak of high craftsmanship in its time, later works may have come along to outshine it and make it look ordinary. If it was fresh and barrier-breaking, later works may have gone beyond it, making it look fusty.
I’ve been reading BONE by Jeff Smith, which first appeared in 1991. And . . .
It’s terrific. The writing is funny and suspenseful and full of heart, and the art is expressive and beautiful. If Smith were bringing BONE out as a new work today, it would get the same spectacular praise as it got the first time around.
I liked BONE well enough when it first appeared, but I didn’t read all of it. Now, I’m re-reading the parts that I already knew as well as parts that I’ve never read, so I have two perspectives on the work.
Both of my perspectives agree: It’s terrific.
Jeff Smith has been concentrating on picture books lately and doing them beautifully, as you’d expect. But Jeff, please — come back to comics.