Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2004

That's Lillian van Hartesveldt with Julie on the previous page. I took the photo at MagiCon in 1992.

             I wasn't able to attend DC Comics' memorial service for Julie, held in New York short days after his death. But my oldest friend in comics fandom was there. I told my story of the accident of July 9, 1966 in Challenger #5.



Mike Friedrich

On a snowy New York March 18, 2004, approximately 200 comics professionals and fans met to remember a man who had touched their careers and inner fantasies for 60 years.

A few attendees like Irwin Hasen, Joe Kubert, Murphy Anderson, and Irwin Donenfeld had known Julie from the Forties. Others like Brian Tomsen had met him in his retirement in the Nineties. Neil Gaiman delivered the remarks of his contemporary Alan Moore, who'd first met Julie during his final professional decade of the Eighties. The largest contingent was those who had encountered him as fans, free-lancers and fellow staffers from the late Sixties and early Seventies.

Perhaps because this last group was my own cohort I paid the most attention to the speakers from them: Denny O'Neil, Mike Uslan, Jack C. Harris, Len Wein [delivered by Bob Greenberger], Guy H. Lillian III [delivered by Harris], Anthony Tollin and Paul Levitz. O'Neil noted the affinity Julie had for double-identity characters, as one who kept his professional and personal lives very separate. Uslan spoke for his fellow baby-boomer fans who thought of Julie as a series of magic numbers denoting turning-point issues in the development of what came to be called DC's Silver Age. Wein described how Julie "taught me plot structure and ingenuity and the persistence to keep at a story until it was right, until it was ready, until it was done". Levitz twisted O'Neil's comments inside out by noting that Julie had taught him "to marry the prettiest girl in the office", alluding to the famous red hair of Jean Schwartz as well has Levitz's own wife Jeanette.

Perhaps the most satisfying moment of the event personally was discovering that my own life-long pen-pal, Irene Vartanoff, had come up from Maryland to attend. She and Guy Lillian were "introduced" to me by Julie through his letter columns around 1965 and I've stayed in touch with both of them through correspondence and very occasional visits ever since. It was Guy who first called me within hours to let me know of Julie's passing. Seeing Irene completed a circuit.

Although I'm barely a footnote in Julie's career, as the first [1967] of the baby-boomer writers he hired, in the life story where I'm the star, Julie was the one who published 50 teen comments of mine in his lettercols and then gave me my first job.

My letter-writing began around the time the "new look" Batman was introduced, though I'd been a fan of Julie's for two or three years before then. A couple of years later it turned into a bit of correspondence as Julie began to send short replies.

As I grew during high school my comments began to contain suggestions for how stories could have been improved. As I neared my summer vacation in 1966 I off-handedly wrote asking if I could try writing a script. Julie quickly affirmatively replied and just as quickly rejected my first effort, an Elongated Man story.

Not long after this, by coincidence Julie and his wife were taking a vacation to San Francisco. Guy Lillian and I arranged to come in from our suburban homes to see him together. Unfortunately we had a near-tragic auto accident on the way and wound up at the hospital instead of his hotel.

Undeterred I continued to submit ideas and scripts, and the following spring [May 10, 1967] he bought my first one, a Robin, Boy Wonder story that eventually saw print in Batman #202.

As I was graduating from high school the following month, I took the script payment [$10/page] and used it to go to New York for the summer before entering college.

I finally met Julie by showing up on the day that DC conducted tours [I wasn't old enough to know about making appointments] and then once in the office introducing myself. He was as many have described, a straight-laced formal guy with a white shirt and tie. My wardrobe was t-shirts and jeans. Despite this generation gap, he was straightforward, friendly, and amazingly tolerant.

That first summer he worked with me on a handful of scripts, including the one that was first to be published, Spectre #3, drawn by Neal Adams. I can't think of a better way to start a multi-decade career.


Nolacon II's "Other Forms" Hugo was a precursor of today's "Related Book" category - and here's the winner of that award, talking about the man who helped inspire Watchmen.



Alan Moore

Just off the 'plane from England, anything except fresh out of Kennedy, within an hour or two we'd all been introduced to Julie, all us early eighties economic migrants, awestruck, wide-eyed, staring like religiously-converted lemurs as at last we met our childhood's god, the intergalactic cabby who wouldn't shut up, the curator of the space museum.

We loved Julie in the way that we'd love anyone we'd known since we were small, who'd shared with us that secret, rustling, flashlight-dazzled space beneath the midnight counterpane. We loved him in the way that we loved covers with gorillas on. We followed at his heels, a quacking flock, along the migraine-yellow dot-toned hallways at the DC offices, and if he thought of us as irritating Carl Barks nephews, as the Hueys, Deweys and Louies that he's never really wanted, then he didn't let it show.

Quite the reverse. Julie indulged us like a visiting school-trip for pale, consumptive English orphans, fragile coughing invalids at Fresh Air Camp. He sneaked us presents, file copies of some treasured Mystery in Space pulled from the morgue drawers in his office, from which rose the perfume of his life, long decades of pulp pages, fifty thousand comic racks in every corner magazine store that you ever visited or dreamed about. He knew a captive audience when he saw one, and appreciated our appreciation. All the anecdotes were new to us, the creaking chair-bound jokes fresh as this morning's lox. The funeral for a much-feared fellow editor he told us of, whereat the section of the service set aside for testaments and kindly words concerning the deceased stretched into long, embarrassed silence until someone at the back stood up and ventured the opinion that the late lamented's brother had been worse.

We were a pushover. He made us laugh, he knocked us dead, and then there was the scrapbook, with its pages full of letters, pictures, signatures. "I am, sir, your devoted servant, H.P. Lovecraft." Photographs of Julie, young with diamond cutter eyes behind wire-rimmed spectacles. Men in dark coats and Homburg hats on winter corners in New York, grey vapour twisting up from manhole covers, from cigars. "You see the crewcut kid, the newsboy there? That's Bradbury." We'd gape and nod, could not have possibly been more impressed if he'd said, "See that old guy in the toga, standing by Ed Hamilton? That's Zeus."

And now we hear that Julie has been...discontinued? Cancelled? But they said the same about Green Lantern and the Flash back in the early 'fifties, so we can't be certain. This is comics. There'll be some way around it, be some parallel world Earth-Four Julie, born thirty years later to account for problems in the continuity, and decked out in a jazzier, more streamlined outfit. A funny, brilliant, endlessly enthusiastic twelve year old got up in an old man suit, Julie spent his life mining the gold-seam of the future; is too big, then, to be ever truly swallowed by the past. He was a friend, he was an inspiration, was the founder of our dreams.

He ruined my reputation as a gentle pacifist by claiming that I'd seized him by the throat and sworn to kill him if he didn't let me write his final episodes of Superman, and how, now, am I supposed to contradict a classic Julius Schwartz yarn? So, all right: it's true. I picked him up and shook him like a British nanny, and I hope wherever he is now, he's satisfied by this shamefaced confession. Goodnight, Julie. It has been our privilege to have known you. You were the best.


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