While no encyclopedia covering ongoing periodical literature can ever be truly complete, the multivolume set here, enlarged and updated from its first edition published 20 years ago, comes impressively close. Horn, an internationally recognized comics authority with several similar books to his credit, has ensured that this work offers a staggering overview, including the obvious newspaper strips and superhero tales as well as underground, independent, and international titles. While not every single comic ever printed is covered here, and while other comics histories might cover single creators or a particular company more extensively, no other publication offers such a wide and varied scope. Extensive historical data are to be found in the first half of Volume 1, and then the listings begin, reporting on writers, artists, publishers, and characters galore, all mixed together alphabetically and covering information up to December 1997. Entries are at times uneven. For example, the glowing discussion of Bill Waterson's wonderful decade-long run of Calvin and Hobbes is equal in length to that of DC's Batman, even though the latter has a 60-year publishing history. Entries can be brutal on perennial favorites (Batman is judged a "worn-out cliche," and Captain America "limps on"), and key developments are sometimes overlooked (Cap's significant resurgence under Mark Waid and John Garney in 1996 is not even mentioned). Even so, this set has appeal owing to its thorough and insightful coverage and ample illustrations and by virtue of its being the only one of its kind. Only minor differences exist between the single-volume version and the set reviewed above; the hefty tome has the same content and page count as the set, with certain reorganizations (the 80 pages of color illustrations are found together, and comics history articles are found toward the back). Either version is well recommended, but the price difference would make the single-volume work the obvious choice.--Chris Ryan, New Milford, NJ
Gr 6 Up-Updated from the one-volume 1976 edition, this labor of love contains over 1400 signed entries, two thirds of which are either revised or new. After opening with authoritative, opinionated historical and analytical essays, plus a chronology through the end of 1997, Horn joins more than two dozen other contributors to offer an alphabetical catalogue of comic art, books, and strips, as well as their creators, from Pat Brady (Rose Is Rose) to 19th-century British caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson and Ukiyo-e artist Kuniyoshi Utagawa. A color section that takes up half of volume three supplements the black-and-white illustrations decorating every spread. Back matter includes seven specialized indexes, a bibliography, and other useful information. Although the coverage of areas outside of Europe and North America isn't quite as deep, this is an awesome gathering of information that will delight casual fans as well as serious collectors and scholars.-John Peters, New York Public Library
**** The second 1976 edition is cited in BCL3. New edition of a reference that covers the entire field of comic art in all of its aspects--artistic, cultural, sociological, and commercial--on a global scale through December 1997. Contains 1,400-plus biographical and bibliographical entries which have been organized alphabetically as well as a number of informative articles such as a world history of the comics, a chronology of important events, an analytical summary dealing with language, themes and structures, and an extensive glossary. Extensively Illustrated with b&w pictures and color reproductions. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.