- Neil Gaiman
Julius "Julie" Schwartz was born in New York City in 1915. At 17 he co-founded the first science fiction fanzine, The Time Traveler, with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J. Ackerman, and in 1934 Schwartz and Weisinger co-founded the first science fiction literary agency, the Solar Sales Service, where Schwartz represented Alfred Bester, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and H.P. Lovecraft.
Schwartz helped organize the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, but his most famous career move came five years later in 1944, when his former client Alfred Bester helped Schwartz land a job as script editor at All-American Comics. At All-American, Schwartz edited All-Star Comics, Green Lantern, The Flash and Sensation Comics before the company was absorbed by DC Comics in 1945. Schwartz went on to edit a range of books including Mystery in Space, Strange Adventures, Rex the Wonder Dog, All-Star Western, Danger Trail and Hopalong Cassidy, but he is best remembered for his work editing Showcase beginning in 1956, where Schwartz was responsible for the reinvention of the Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom. This paved the way for the Silver Age of Comics. Schwartz was also responsible for reviving the Justice Society of America and renaming it the Justice League of America in February 1960's issue of The Brave and the Bold; the introduction of Hawkman in February 1961's The Brave and the Bold; and the invention of parallel universes and Earth-Two in September 1961's The Flash #123. It is also said that Schwartz was responsible for inspiring Stan Lee to revive the then-flagging Marvel Comics.
In 1964, Schwartz was put in charge of the Batman books, where he introduced the "New Look" Batman in May 1964's Detective Comics #327. This included the addition of the bright yellow oval behind the bat symbol and making the stories more moody and mysterious. Schwartz also helped bring Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams to prominence, pairing them for the first time in Detective Comics #395 in January 1970. In that same year, Schwartz was named Editor-in-Chief of DC Comics.
In 1971, Schwartz also took over the Superman books. Under his direction, the stories moved away from gimmicks and more towards character-driven narratives. One of these changes found Clark Kent made into a television news reporter. He edited both the Batman and Superman books until 1978, then continued on the Superman comics until 1985. He would retire from editing monthly books in 1986 after a 42-year tenure at the company. His final story, the two-part "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" appeared in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 and, according to a DC Comics press release, "served as a closing chapter to the Silver Age of Superman".
After his retirement Schwartz continued to be active in the community. He edited seven science fiction graphic novels for DC, including adaptations of works by Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven and Ray Bradbury. He was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1997, and was also the recipient of nearly every industry award, including the Forry, Shazam, Eagle, Inkpot, Alley and Jules Verne Awards. In 1998, Dragon*Con chairman Ed Kramer established the Julie Award to recognize "universal achievement spanning multiple genres". The inaugural recipient in 1998 was Ray Bradbury, followed by Forrest Ackerman, Yoshitaka Amano, Alice Cooper, Will Eisner, Harlan Ellison, and Neil Gaiman.
When Schwartz passed away at the age of 88, he still held the title of Goodwill Ambassador and Editor Emeritus at DC Comics. In a press release about Schwartz's passing, Paul Levitz, DC's President and Publisher, wrote: "DC has lost a living legend this weekend and a true original. Julie was an editor who entertained and educated millions over three generations, performed the near-impossible feat of getting great work out of his contributors without ever ruffling their feelings, and taught many of us our craft. If the measure of an editor is the respect of his peers, he was immeasurable - for his peers who loved and respected him were often legends in their own right. Most of us were simply left in awe." Harlan Ellison said of Schwartz, "He was the turbine that drove the resurgence of comic book popularity. He saved from near-extinction one of the few truly American art-forms. He was the Simon Bolivar of his genre." In a memorial speech read by Gaiman at Schwartz' funeral, Alan Moore wrote, "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."
Ellison's full obituary for Schwartz can be found at http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=3414. Moore's full essay can be found at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/03/what-alan-said-about-julie.asp. A version of this essay originally appeared in the Spring 2008 edition of the CMS newsletter, In Medias Res.