PW Review of THORN!

by | Jul 8, 2024 | General | 0 comments

Thorn: The Complete Proto-Bone College Strips 1982–1986, and Other Early Drawings

Jeff Smith. Cartoon Books, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-1-888963-86-1

Smith reprints the complete 1980s run of his precocious college comic strip, much of which he later reworked into his fantasy series Bone. Published in the Ohio State University paper The Lantern, Thorn shares a cast and many plot beats with Bone, though topical characters like Voochko the Soviet pig and president “Ronnie Doody, the talking puppet” were not destined to make the transition. In his introduction, Smith comments that “where Bone is a novel, Thorn is more like a variety show.” The freewheeling fantasy indulges in anachronistic references and fourth-wall-breaking humor, as characters climb out of the page to argue with their creator, become “trapped in real life,” and cross over into another Lantern strip. Smith is clearly influenced by Doonesbury and Bloom County, but his love for an even earlier age of cartooning is reflected in the many callbacks to Pogo, Popeye, and classic Looney Tunes. The early art is rough but improves rapidly, and there are plenty of extras to satisfy the most demanding fans, including childhood artwork, story sketches, an interview with Smith, and an essay by fellow OSU alum Derf Backderf weighing in on a campus controversy caused by a Thorn story line. Though this is most valuable as a blueprint for what was to come in Bone, it’s got charm enough to stand on its own.


#comics #books #graphicnovels #bonecomics #jeffsmith #cartoonbooks #TUKI #RASL #THORN



Blog Archives