Maurice Horn – RIP

Comics historian Maurice Horn has passed away.

Maurice C. Horn
June 28, 1931  –  December 30, 2022

A death notice for famed comics historian Maurice Horn has been discovered.

Maurice Horn became the preeminent comics historian of the 1960s through the 1980s with his books.

It was Maurice Horn’s massive World Encyclopedia of Comics in 1976 that put his name front and center.

Though not without some controversy since he, as editor, changed some accounts to suit his debatable interpretations of characters without advising or informing the contributors who wrote the original entries.

And, as the first of its kind, there were the inevitable errors.

But even so it was a monumental leap forward in the publishing of comics history.

From Kim A. Munson’s How the French Kickstarted the Acceptance of Comics as an Art Form in the US: the Books and Exhibitions of Maurice Horn:

After the NYCC exhibition, Horn shifted his focus to writing, editing and publishing. In 1974, he began production on The World Encyclopedia of Comics, which became a bestseller and the book he is most known for. The July 1976 hardcover first edition is 790 pages with 850 illustrations, and contains over 1,200 entries, contributed by historians from the Phillipines, US, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, Canada, France, Japan, Yugoslavia, and Australia. According to WorldCat, Chelsea House (New York) published 69 editions of the encyclopedia between 1976 and 1999. Horn told me that this number represents over 200,000 copies sold worldwide. The World Encyclopedia was substantially updated in 1997.

Horn told me that the encyclopedia made so much money from its royalties that he bought an apartment at One Fifth Avenue, an Art Deco landmark, built in 1927 by Harvey Wiley Corbett, which he eventually sold. On publication, The World Encyclopedia got good reviews as a literary work in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and The Chicago Daily News. As for its practical use, the reviews were mixed; the book became both an indispensible reference and a source of frustration as knowledgeable fans and historians indentified inaccuracies in many of the entries. Some people expecting a reference work to have a more neutral voice objected to the strong criticism put forth by a few of the contributors. However we look at it now, The World Encyclopedia was a major undertaking and the first work of its kind.

The Wikipedia entry on Maurice Horn.

April 27 edit to add: The Comics Journal obituary by Andrew Farago

Hat tip to Kim A. Munson and Mike Rhode for uncovering the funeral home death notice.

In a 1968 Steve Canyon adventure Milton Caniff based the look of a M’sieu Toute on Maurice Horn.

That caricature is our feature image.

4 thoughts on “Maurice Horn – RIP

  1. Kim Munson found the notice and mentioned it to John Lent, who was a friend of Maurice’s so I went hunting. I had most of those books in your image by the early 1980s!

    1. I have added Kim to the credit line.
      For some reason I never got the Cartoons (at my local library) or Graphic Artists volumes, otherwise…

  2. I have many of these books, I didn’t realize Maurice edited them. I have the books for years, but I always look back at them and find something new and interesting. They’re excellent.

  3. I wonder if it will be updated again by the offspring of Maurice Horn for its 50th. anniversary in 2026.

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