Book cover image for The Comic Strip History of the World

Publication date: October 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9780747594314
Page count: 96
Price: £6.99
Size: 148mm × 204mm
Age group: n/a 

The Comic Strip History of the World

by Tracey Turner (Author)
Sally Kindberg (Illustrator)

The title is as good a synopsis as any of this book’s content, given that it amounts to the briefest summary of the history of the world. Obviously aimed at the market established by the Horrible Histories series and their like, it is the history of the world told in 83 pages. So it might seem unfair to criticise it for being too crammed. Though the author and illustrator have done their best, I feel they need a format twice the size and in full colour, with only a little more text to do their work justice.

It was good to see equal emphasis given to Eastern and Western cultures, but the timeline is hard to follow as the narrative moves from one to the other. A young reader would naturally struggle with all the strange names and terms. They would need enough familiar language to help them along, but there isn’t room.

The text is reduced to facts crammed in as quips, without time to explain anything or set up the jokes instead of trying to deliver constant punchlines. The illustrations are pleasingly simple, but the cartoons have no space to gather momentum enough to engage the reader. Comic book storytelling requires smoothly flowing sequential art, but here almost every frame tells a different story to the last. Adding red as a second colour does help make sense of the black and white illustrations, but to me, printing in two colours simply emphasises the fact that you can’t afford all four.

I was delighted that somebody attempted this and I hope it can be used to enthuse young historians, but I think it could be done a lot better. 

Review by
Oisín McGann

This review originally appeared in Inis #27