When writing historical articles, we at Cartoon Brew often need to check facts — who directed Mexico’s first animated feature? — or refresh our background knowledge — what did the fall of the Soviet Union do to Russia’s studios? In these moments, more often than not, we turn to the books of Giannalberto Bendazzi that bookend our shelves.
Bendazzi, who died aged 75 on December 13, started writing about animation history at a time when very few scholars showed interest in the subject. By the end of his career, he was pre-eminent in a field that he had helped develop in the first place. His books, especially the three-volume Animation: A World History (2016), are definitive; his knowledge of the medium’s past was unparalleled.
Born in Ravenna, Italy, Bendazzi took a roundabout route into animation. He studied law in Milan, but never practiced. He then worked as a critic, covering film in general. From the late 1970s, he grew increasingly interested in animation, befriending artists like Alexandre Alexeieff and Bruno Bozzetto and writing about their work.