The Animated 'Bone' Movie Gets 'Kung Fu Panda' Director Mark Osborne

If you were to corner me in a darkened alley and place a gun against my head and demand to know my favorite comic book of all time, I'd say Jeff Smith's Bone. And you wouldn't even have to go through with the theatrics. Ask me about favorite comic book series of all time in a public space on a sunny day and I'd still tell you all about how Bone is one of the finest achievements in all of sequential art, an adventure story that is funny, adorable, ambitious, filled with unforgettable characters, and never afraid to take its audience down a dark path when necessary. It's a 55-issue masterpiece.

And they've been trying to make it into an animated movie since 2008, with director P.J. Hogan signing on to the project in 2012. Now, it looks like Warner Bros. is starting over from scratch, recruiting Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) to direct and Adam Kline to write the screenplay.

The news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter, who report that the plan is to adapt Smith's epic series into a trilogy of animated films. Although the article doesn't specify, we can safely assume that the plan is for each film to be CG-animated because traditional cell animation isn't packing the theaters these days.

Grumpy statement: Jeff Smith's instantly recognizable art would be better served by hand drawn animation and 3D renderings of his characters run the risk of looking off-putting instead of cute and/or odd. Consider this paragraph a raised eyebrow of concern.

Osborne is an animation veteran and a two-time Oscar nominee  best known for directing the first Kung Fu Panda and this year's The Little Prince. However, he is also a veteran of SpongeBob Squarepants, a credit that, oddly enough, makes him feel like a better fit for Bone than any of his big screen work. I would be skeptical of anyone adapting a straight-up comic book masterpiece that deserves to be handled with great care, but he seems like a solid fit.

Bone tells the story of the Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, three odd little creatures who are chased out of their hometown and end up in a mysterious valley full of strange people and stranger monsters. What begins as a charming, slapstick-driven romp slowly transforms into a fantasy epic involving the fate of the world – it's like Looney Tunes meets The Lord of the Rings, but done in a way that isn't at all jarring while never losing sight of its characters and their relationships. It's. So. Good.

Although the THR article doesn't mention his involvement in this new trilogy, Jeff Smith has been involved in past attempts to adapt Bone and even prevented Nickelodeon from making a film in the late '90s after he disagreed with their take on the material. Smith has been notoriously protective of his work in the past. Fingers crossed this new attempt will do justice to his work.