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Why Giannalberto Bendazzi’s Animation History Book Must Be Published

A few months ago, in a round-up of the highly anticipated animation books of 2014, I included Italian historian Giannalberto Bendazzi’s updated version of Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation on the list. For those who don’t know, the original volume, published in the United States in 1994, is the single finest survey of global animation history. It’s an indispensable book that I keep within arm’s reach at all times because nothing else exists like it. Not only is Cartoons more comprehensive than any other single volume about global animation, its writing is a model of eloquence and conciseness that inspires the reader to seek out the films and animators discussed in the book.

For these reasons, I’ve been looking forward to the updated version of the book for quite a few years. It promised to be a magnificent tome—nearly 700,000 words and 2,000 pages in its manuscript form, and thoroughly up-to-date on the massive growth and global expansion that has occurred in animation during the last three decades. The book had been commissioned by John Libbey Publishing, a British publishing house that specializes in film, animation, and media books. As with the earlier edition, Libbey planned a co-publication, in which a U.S. university press would publish the book for American audiences, while Libbey would handle international publishing.

Unfortunately, its publication hit a snag after Libbey tried to sell the book to American publishers. Multiple publishers, among them, Indiana University Press (which published the original edition) and the University of California Press, turned down the book for the reason that it was “too big,” Bendazzi tells me. Unable to find a publishing partner, Libbey sold back the book rights to Bendazzi. That is good news, the author says, because it means that he can now find another publisher. But it’s bad news for those of us who have been waiting for the book for years because it means we will have to wait even longer.

As any animation historian can attest, Bendazzi’s story isn’t unusual. Even as the animation industry is booming, there is noticeably sparse interest in documenting the historical movements and contemporary trajectory of the art form. It is inconceivable that a major volume on film, music, art, or literary history would be turned down on the basis of its length, but for animation that somehow seems completely normal. Mark Lewisohn’s new biography on The Beatles is nearly 1,000 pages—and that’s only part one. Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, a biography of New York City urban planner Robert Moses, is over 1,300 pages—and that’s a book about a single individual. Whereas those books are celebrated for their comprehensiveness, animation histories don’t get any praise for being comprehensive. Publishers believe that the 110-year history of the art form and its thousands of practitioners must be constrained to a neat and tidy length because no one wants a more detailed account.

Except some of us do want the detailed account. We have a sincere interest in learning about all the varied approaches to animated filmmaking, and exploring its limitless expressive means. And we don’t care if it takes a few hundred extra pages to tell that story. If Bendazzi’s new version of Cartoons is anything like the earlier edition—and I have no doubt that it will be—then it is a book that deserves to be printed on paper and given a prized space on the bookshelf of any serious animation fan, artist, and scholar. Let’s hope that some publisher agrees and makes this book a reality. They can contact Bendazzi at

  • Jesus Chambrot

    Kickstart This!

    • Tobias

      Yup. Would love to pledge for this.
      And as a pledgelevel: make an advanced ebook (iPad app).

      • Chris Sobieniak

        What, no Android love?

    • DangerMaus

      I’d contribute to something like this just to see it happen. A book like that shouldn’t be allowed to moulder in the author’s desk drawer. It should, at the very least, be able to moulder on the shelves of book stores.

      He should approach Fantagraphics Books with the tome. It seems like the kind of book that would be right up Gary Groth’s alley as far as publishing goes.

  • Animatior

    I checked this book out from my local library before. It’s a wonderful resource. It was through this book that I learned that Snow White was not the first feature-length animated film. (although it was the first technicolor and cel animated film) That’s a fact that truly surprised me. I definitely would like to add it to my library, but I’ll wait for the revised and expanded edition. Would it be possible to publish the new book as two separate volumes if it’s ‘too long’? You could sell them separately, or together as a boxed set. Then again, if the publisher wouldn’t publish one volume at 1,000 pages, I doubt they’d be interested in publishing two books.

  • Roberto Severino

    I completely agree. Let’s get a Kickstarter or Patreon going for this.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    This is really a shame indeed. I hope he can find somebody for this around here.

  • Joseph Patrick

    This was the book I used to help me through my animation history class. An updated version is essential!

  • Saturnome

    This book is nothing like the other books I own on animation and for that it’s a real must, there’s so much many hidden treasures described in it.

  • Linterna Mágica

    It’s a wonderful book that I keep as a treasure!! I really hope you will be able to publish its updating without compromising in the length. The more information it will have, the best. Good luck to you (and to all of us, animation lovers)!!!

  • andrew osmond

    Declaration of interest; I’ve had a little involvement in this book, and have been able to see some of the new text. The level of detail and analysis, and the global scope, are absolutely astonishing, going orders of magnitude beyond the original edition. As an author and journalist who specialises in animation, and who relies heavily on books like these, I think it’s magnificent; and I really, really hope the book is published.

  • Abi Feijó

    I love Bendazzi’s books once they are an unique tool to understand the Art of Animation. This new book, an updated version of the most important book on the History of Animation must be published and a smaller and cutted edition just doesn’t any sense at all.
    May be it would be a good idea to try a wider co-edition among several countries, as it is been done in Animation Production, with smaller participation a from each editor and a more effective local distribution. This should also be completed with a CROWD FUNDING. I, myself would be available to pre buy one or more of these books.
    Good luck! I wish you all the luck

  • Marco_Sensei

    I want ! Many ! Need ! One for me, one for my students at my animation school, one for every friends working with me, and one for each person that care for animation in this world… If only I was rich and in the publishing business. ^_^

  • Magdalena Sebestova

    I have the privilige of knowing Giannalberto in person and also being familiar with his first edition of Cartoons – One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation. As a person working in animation AniFest Festival/Czech Republic I also helped Giannalberto getting some materiál on Czech animation history. Animation professionals and fans worldwide, I am telling you, this book absolutely has to get published! If you have any idea at all how to help, please get in touch with Giannalberto! He deserves it as a person adn as a brillian writer and historian and we deserve it as readers!

  • Priscilla

    During the University, I started study animation cinema on this Book. It’s a masterpiece and a revised and updated version is essential for everyone’s personal culture!

  • Signe

    Lets make it happen!

  • Andriana Ruzic

    I have been waiting for this book for a couple of years now. WE have been waiting it for quite some time. WE need it, and as soon as possible!

  • I bought this book the day it became available. It has been an invaluable resource. I’d buy an updated volume or the Android version.

  • Hansje

    This is a book that must come! (One of the reasons being that I wrote an excellent chapter for it on Dutch animation 1990-2010.)
    But of course, like the earlier edition, it’s a great resource for all animation research, and also deals with animation from obscure countries, of which you never knew they made animation there!

  • Maureen

    It’s a wonderful book and it would be a shame to have it out of publication. Speaking as a small publisher, it’s not so much the cost of printing that’s a problem these days. For me, the cost has gone down since I started a number of years ago. The problems are that a lot of schools and individual readers want digital resources, not print, combined with the skyrocketing cost of shipping, especially internationally. I don’t publish digitally, except a very small number of essays I have online at the Animation Journal website and I don’t love using online resources myself, but it’s one answer to the costs of print publishing. Libraries would be likely to purchase it in digital form, as opposed to print, since many would already have a print copy, even though from a while ago.

  • Sandro Del Rosario

    As an animator and a sincere admirer of Bendazzi’s work, I have been waiting for this updated edition of Cartoons since a long time. I’m eager to buy it, to read it, and to share it. What a shame to read that its publication is on hold for reasons that are so irrilevant! We so much need a comprehensive overview on the history of this beautiful art form, so beautiful yet truly unknown to the majority of artists, curators, filmmakers and even to the many animators who’re just entering the field. GO Giannalberto!!!

  • jessevinton

    Sounds like a fabulous book. Yes, it should be Kickstarted!

  • jessevinton

    I agree! Giannalberto’s excellent book really must get published! – Will Vinton

  • Alejandro R. González

    Bendazzi’s book is a great piece of work. It’s an outstanding encyclopaedia of the animated form worldwide, full of detailed information which you cannot find anywhere else – not in other books, not online… It’s only there. The book is the work of a lifetime of a thoughtful researcher. I hope someone in the printing business soon realizes that there is a target for this kind of publication. Keep up the hope Giannalberto!

  • Hannes Rall

    Giannalberto Bendazzi’s new book is certainly one of the most important scholarly works on animation ever and it must (!!!) be published. The amount of incredibly meticulous research that has gone into the newest edition is beyond belief. The (animation) world needs a book like this, which documents the history and state of the art of animation in the whole world.

  • Jiri Kubicek

    Giannis´s Cartoons is the best book about history of animation. But it finishes in eightees. It´s very important to publish the new updated edition. We would like tu publish it at FAMU (Prague Film and TV school) in the Czech languague.

  • I bought Giannalberto’s first volume of this book in the original Italian. I bought the English translation and I will buy the new book when it is published. There are no books on Earth that cover the entire realm of animation better than Giannalberto Bendazzi’s books.

  • nobo-D

    …that this book can’t get published due to its size/length just ain’t right.Surely there’s a way round it. Please please get this book published soon. Actually, we really need this updated version of Mr. Bendazzi’s book NOW NOW NOW

  • Linterna Mágica

    Is there any new about Bendazzi’s new book??? I’m eagerly
    waiting for it!!!!

  • Good news! The book will be published by Focal Press in 2015 as mentioned by Giannalberto Bendazzi himself ! The title will be “Animation – A World History”: three tomes, hardbound,1500 pages altogether, available by May 2015. Let’s look forward to this!