JULIUS SCHWARTZBorn: 1915 : : : Died: 2004
Job Description: Editor
Worked in: Comic books
Noted for: The Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, Justice League, Justice Society, etc. etc.
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Julius Schwartz — known to one and all as "Julie" — was more than just a DC Comics editor. He's the editor who worked there the longest, had the most influence on
the company's directions for decades starting in the 1940s, became best known in the comics fan community, and was probably best liked on a personal level by professionals who worked with him. And he was the only one who, at one time or another, gave editorial guidance to all of the DC-owned "household name" characters — Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and The Justice League of America.
The first thing Schwartz ever edited was a science fiction fanzine — and again, it wasn't just a fanzine, but the fanzine that begat all other fanzines. The Time Traveler, which, starting in 1930, he co-edited and co-published with fellow sci-fi buff Mort Weisinger — who by the way also had a long and distinctive career as a DC editor — was, according to most accounts, the very first of its kind. Later, he went to work as a literary agent, specializing in fantasy/science fiction pulp writers. His clientele included such stellar names as Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft.
Until 1944, when he joined All-American Publications (shortly before it re-merged with DC Comics), Schwartz had absolutely no experience in comics. In fact, he never even read one until he was on his way to interview for the job with editor Sheldon Mayer — figuring he really ought to bone up on the subject, he picked up a few to look through during the subway ride there. Mayer hired him on the basis of his knowledge of what makes a story tick — and for years, Schwartz's main job at AA/DC was to create plots and go over scripts; he'd never even see the artwork before the comic was printed.
Schwartz was editing the entire comics process by the late '40s, overseeing some of the series DC had gotten from All-American — Green Lantern, The Justice Society of America et al. As the superheroes were phased out, he moved on to other genres. In the 1950s he edited Rex the Wonder Dog, All Star Western and many other titles — including a return to his first love, science fiction, in DC's Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space. In the latter two, he ran a number of series, such as Captain Comet and Knights of the Galaxy, that presaged his later approach to sci-fi-based superheroes. In 1956, when the entire comic book industry was at its lowest ebb to date (reeling from attacks by politicians, psychiatrists and others seeking to make names for themselves by linking the form to juvenile delinquency), he took an assignment to do an updated version of a character he'd edited in the '40s, The Flash.
This was the beginning of the revitalization of American comic books. More revived characters followed, and the entire industry followed Schwartz's lead. Allegedly, it was a golf course boast by DC honcho Jack Liebowitz to Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman, about sales of Schwartz-edited comics, that led to the creation of The Fantastic Four. Before long, sales were up all around, and superheroes were once again comics' dominant genre.
In 1964, Batman's sales were down, and DC responded by letting Schwartz revitalize that line, as well. In 1970, his old friend and fellow DC editor, Mort Weisinger, retired, and Schwartz took over editorship of Weisinger's Superman. In 1973, DC licensed the old Captain Marvel character from Fawcett, and Schwartz was its first editor. By that time, he'd long since outlasted his contemporaries, and become the publisher's senior editor.
During the 1980s, Schwartz started relinquishing his day-to-day editorial duties, as he gradually withdrew into retirement. But he still found time to edit a series of graphic novels based on the works of popular science fiction writers such as Larry Niven and Ray Bradbury — some of whom he'd acted as agent for, back in the 1930s. By the end of the decade, he was mostly retired, tho still retained by DC as an editor emeritus and goodwill ambassador.
Julie Schwartz died February 8, 2004 — but even in his final years, he maintained an active role in the comics industry, and was a familiar and welcome sight at comic book conventions. It was said the way to find him at a convention was to seek out the best looking woman on the premises. Julie would be the guy she had her arm around.