Bone Comic Book Optioned

July 20, 2011 Alongside other award-winning titles like Art Spiegelman’s Maus or Alan Moore’s original Watchmen graphic novel, the Jeff Smith series Bone is familiar to most comic book fans.

Naturally, a film adaptation of Smith’s beloved fantasy adventure has been in the works for years now, but the process has seemingly been very stop and go, in the past. While there’s no official word about the timetable for a Bone film adaptation(s), the original comic book’s creator has some interesting news about the progress of the project.

Warner Bros. is reportedly developing Bone as a movie trilogy (fitting, considering the series is over 1,300 pages long) and has the third draft of a script currently in the works. Who is writing said screenplay and how much progress they’ve made at this point, has yet to be revealed.

For those not in the know, here is an official description of the Bone graphic novel:

As many comics fans know, the series chronicles the adventures of the Bone cousins–plucky Fone Bone, scheming Phony Bone, and easygoing Smiley Bone– who leave their home of Boneville and are swept up in a Tolkienesque epic of royalty, dragons, and unspeakable evil forces out to conquer humankind.

Smith spoke recently with Hero Complex about Warner Bros.’ Bone film adaptation (which he estimates won’t be ready for at least another two years) and revealed that he’d been shown some test footage for the 3D, computer-generated project.

His impressions are as follows:

“I’m a comic book guy, I’m not a movie guy… [but I’m] actually excited about the movie for the first time in a long time. [In the test footage] Fone Bone was falling in the water and going through cliffs and canyons. The dragon moved in from off camera in the shadows with smoke around him, all in 3-D. It was pretty mind-blowing.”

Smith wrote and illustrated the black-and-white Bone comics over the course of 13 years, snagging some 44 literary awards for his efforts. The series combines cartoony slapstick, a trio of main characters whose design was (clearly) inspired by Snoopy from the “Peanuts” comic strip, and a Lord of the Rings-style narrative to create what has long been regarded as one of the greatest graphic novels ever produced.

The old-fashioned cartoony style of the Bone comic book artwork seems to lend itself naturally to a hand-drawn animated movie adaptation, which raises the issue of whether or not 3D CGI is really the way to go. Just about every animated movie nowadays is rendered digitally – though, as demonstrated by the recently-released Winnie the Pooh, old-school animation techniques (water color, stencil work, etc.) can look just as beautiful today, if not more so, than back when that filmmaking approach was in vogue.

Of course, a lot of fans have already expressed their approval of how Steven Spielberg’s Adventures of Tintin movie realizes its own beloved comic book creations as animated characters who move about in an appropriately exaggerated manner – much like they do in the source material. So it’s possible that realizing characters like the Bone trio as three-dimensional, computer-generated figures might actually work better (for most fans, at least) than more traditional, hand-drawn animation techniques.

Tintin and Bone are fairly similar, in the sense that both are universally-acclaimed comic book creations that aren’t so well known to mainstream U.S. moviegoers. As it were, film trilogies based on both franchises are currently being planned, but won’t be “sure things” unless the first movie in each series hits it big at the box office. Adventures of Tintin seems poised to do well enough when it arrives in theaters this winter (the creative talent working on the film should help, in that regard), so perhaps Bone can do likewise when it finally makes the jump to the big screen.

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Posted in Blog, Comics Optioned