Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2004


The secret of
Julius Schwartz

was not very secret. He wore it all his life, all over his face. His smile.

I think I realized this for the first time when I was researching my article about him for The Amazing World of DC Comics, published 30 years ago and reprinted here. Julie brought his photo album to the DC office and led me on a tour. For a science fiction fan, it was like walking in glory: photos of Schwartz as a fan with the Scienceers in 1932, as an agent with a host of SF legends five years later, with Ray Bradbury, Ray Palmer, Otto Binder, with his partner and lifelong friend Mort Weisinger. When my article saw print, we'd added photos with Len Wein, Elliott Maggin ... and me. In each and every, Julie wore the genuine smile of a guy who loved being alive.

Julie inspired smiles, too. I've never known anyone who was so universally loved. Just read the eulogies. Many tout his astounding resume - as a fanzine fan, as an agent, as a comic book editor. He caused revolutions as each; no one, anywhere or anywhen, has been his equal as any. Look at the fandom he helped build. Look at the careers he helped launch. Look at the Silver Age of Comics, which he brought to be. But more of those memorials will talk about him - about his ebullient personality, his generous good nature, his wry (and corny) wit. Julie Schwartz was a man who loved people and inspired love in people. Alfred Bester, when I interviewed him for the Amazing World article, cautioned me that it was hard to write about someone whom I so obviously worshiped. But when he read the piece, I was told, he said that if he still worked at Holiday, he'd hire me. I regard that as one of the highest compliments I've ever received.

Even before I met Julie, he was one of the most important people in my life - he was, after all, the first adult to pay attention to what I had to say. Through all those letters of comment he published in Flash-Grams and the JLA Mail Room and all the others, he gave me encouragement to express myself - and cast my hopes not only to the world outside my immediate home, but to the chartless reaches of imagination to which he had devoted his life. He did that for me. Before my job at DC, before our friendship of years, he was already The Man.

Someone once saw the 1973 photograph of Julie and me that ends my Amazing World article and asked if he was my father. They did meet once, during my year at the comics, a great moment for me, as you can imagine. For like the man says in All the King's Men, we are all sons of a hundred fathers.

Genius, gadfly, good and generous friend, old boy, you couldn't live forever. But I will never think of you without demanding, Why not? Why not?

 

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