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.