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Schwartz, Julius

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author, Comics, Editor, Fan.

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(1915-2004) US agent and editor, initially involved in sf Fandom (though he never lost interest in fan activities), and later in Comics. Schwartz met his lifelong friend and colleague Mort Weisinger at a meeting of the Scienceers sf group in 1931. Together in 1932 they published what may have been the first true Fanzine, The Time Traveller, and also the later fanzine Science Fiction Digest, which in 1934 became Fantasy Magazine, though Weisinger was not officially an editor on the latter. For this magazine, he wrote a story, "Have a Shot of Truth" (November 1932 Science Fiction Digest), and two essay sequences of interest: "Science Fiction in the Munsey Magazines" (August 1933-January 1934 Science Fiction Digest) and "Science Fiction in Non-Science Fiction Magazines" (September 1934-June 1935 Science Fiction Digest). In 1934 with Weisinger he founded Solar Sales Service, the first literary agency to specialize in sf; early clients included Henry L Hasse, David H Keller, P Schuyler Miller and Stanley G Weinbaum. When Weisinger became editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1936, Schwartz ran the agency alone for the next ten years, new clients including Alfred Bester, Otto Binder (see Eando Binder), Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, John Russell Fearn and Manly Wade Wellman. He was one of the organizers of the first Worldcon in 1939.

At Bester's suggestion, Schwartz became editor at All-American Comics (later part of DC Comics) in February 1944. From 1956 on he played a major role in the DC revival of the Superhero with new versions of earlier characters, many utilizing sf themes. These included The Flash (police scientist who gains superspeed in accident), Green Lantern (test pilot given power ring by alien Guardians from the planet Oa so that he can police this sector of space), Hawkman (policeman from the planet Thanagar operating on Earth), Adam Strange (Earthman who becomes protector of the planet Rann) and The Atom (scientist with the ability to become smaller – Schwartz called this character, in his civilian identity, Ray Palmer, a Tuckerism inspired by the fact that Raymond A Palmer was the shortest of all sf editors). Schwartz also revived the flagging fortunes of Batman by giving it a "new look". When Weisinger left DC in 1971, Schwartz took over as Superman editor, leaving this position in 1986 to edit the shortlived DC SF Graphic Album adaptations (1985-1987), whose titles in publication order were: Hell on Earth (March 1942 Weird Tales; graph 1985) by Robert Bloch, Nightwings (September 1968 Galaxy; graph 1985) by Robert Silverberg, Frost & Fire (Fall 1946 Planet Stories as "The Creatures that Time Forgot"; graph 1985) by Ray Bradbury, Merchants of Venus (July/August 1972 If; graph 1986) by Frederik Pohl, Demon with a Glass Hand (graph 1986) from the 1964 Outer Limits television script by Harlan Ellison, The Magic Goes Away (1977; graph 1986) by Larry Niven and Sandkings (August 1979 Omni; graph 1987) by George R R Martin. The line was a commercial failure, and Schwartz gave up editing to become a consultant to DC and "a goodwill ambassador for DC ... to various conventions". His memoir, Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics (2002) with Brian Thomsen, colourfully depicts his long, crowded life. [RH/JC]

Julius Schwartz

born Bronx, New York: 19 June 1915

died Mineola, New York: 8 February 2004




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