“Here Lies Julius Schwartz. He met his last deadline.” –Schwartz’s pre-written epitaph
This fitting farewell inscription will certainly attract attention, but for those who knew Schwartz, it barely captures the imprint he made in the publishing and comic book industries.
The New York City-native described himself as a “library kid.” He graduated from the City College of New York, and launched the science fiction fanzine, The Time Traveller, in 1930 with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J. Ackerman. In 1934, he and Weisinger founded Solar Sales Service, the first literary agency to specialize in science fiction and fantasy. Their roster of clients included H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein and an unknown writer named Ray Bradbury.
Schwartz began editing comics in 1944 for All-American Comics, shortly before it merged with DC Comics. He worked on numerous titles, from “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Rex the Wonder Dog” to “Mystery in Space” and “Strange Adventures.” After World War II ended, he helped revive the superhero genre by joining forces with writer Gardner Fox and artist Carmine Infantino, and recreating the Flash. The new Flash became a hit for DC Comics in 1956.
Schwartz then went on to modernize the Green Lantern, the Justice League of America and several other Golden Age characters. In the 1960s and ’70s, he increased sales of the Batman and Superman lines by updating their stories and adding new characters. Although he gradually relinquished his day-to-day editorial duties, Schwartz continued editing through the 1980s, working on graphic novels based on the stories of Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven and Robert Silverberg. Since his retirement in 1987, he has served as editor emeritus of DC Comics at numerous comic book conventions.
For his contributions to the publishing and comic book industries, Schwartz received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, the Shazam, the Eagle, the Forry, the Alley, the Inkpot and the Jules Verne awards. In 1998, DragonCon established the Julie Award, which is given to artists and writers for universal achievement in multiple genres.
Schwartz died on Feb. 8 from pneumonia. He was 88.