Bone is an independently published comic series originally serialized in 55 irregularly released issues from 1991 to 2004. Bone was drawn and written by Jeff Smith. Smith's black-and-white drawings were inspired by animated cartoons and comic strips, a notable influence being Walt Kelly's Pogo: "I was ... a big fan of Carl Barks and Pogo, so it was just natural for me to want to draw that kind of mixture of Walt Kelly and Moebius." Accordingly, the story is singularly characterized by an effective combination of both light-hearted comedy and dark, epic fantasy: Time Magazine has called the series "as sweeping as the Lord of the Rings cycle, but much funnier." The series was published bimonthly with some delays from June 1991 to June 2004. The series was self-published for issue #1 through issue #19. It was published by Image Comics from issue #20 through issue #28. It reverted to its original self-publishing company, Cartoon Books, for issue #29 through issue #55 (the last one).
The series centers around the Bone cousins, white, bald cartoon caricatures. In the opening pages of Bone: Out from Boneville the three Bone cousins—avaricious Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone, goofy cigar-smoking Smiley Bone, and everyman character Fone Bone—are run out of their hometown of Boneville after Phoney decides to run for mayor and built a balloon on top the head of a statue of Boneville's founder. A strong wind made the balloon break the head off of the statue and all the townspeople ran Phoncible, Smiley, and Fone out of town. After crossing a desert, the cousins are separated by a sea of locusts and individually ending up in the mysterious Valley and must make their way across the fantasy landscape pursued by rat creatures. They joyously reunite at a local village called Barrelhaven, where they are taken in by a mysterious girl named Thorn and her even more enigmatic grandmother. Fone Bone instantly develops a crush on Thorn when he meets her, and repeatedly attempts to prove his love through poetry. As they stay longer in the valley, they encounter humans and other creatures who are threatened by a dark entity, the Lord of the Locusts. The Bones are quickly drawn into the events around them, compelling them on a hero's journey to help save the world.