Sunday, February 08, 2004

Julius Schwartz, 1915-2004

A legend has passed.

I heard about the death of Julius Schwartz, comic editor, late this afternoon from a friend, and had it confirmed over the net. Julius laid the groundwork for a lot of lives in my chunk of the creative community. He was the DC editor that ushered in the Silver Age with the Showcase debut of the Barry Allen Flash. He was the editor on the Superman books I read when I was a kid. He was a fixture in the DC universe, and a self-effacing "living legend" of the comics industry. And beyond - as a young man, he served briefly as HP Lovecraft's literary agent. No lie.

I found out the last one at a comics convention in Chicago. This was when I was writing the Forgotten Realms book, and I was at the signing table with him. He was a raconteur, with story after story (Getting "At the Mountains of Madness" published was an early, early job for him - he was, what, 17? at the time). To be frank, I was more interested in just listening him talking about the early pulps than signing for my own book (which was OK, because those few people who came up for my autograph were quickly swept into Julie's universe as well). He was charming, he was sweet, and he was incredibly knowledgable. And he was a big piece of publishing history.

I never had the chance to work with him - he had already moved to "living legend" catagory by the time I broke in. But I have friends for whom he was not only a friend but a mentor, including Brian the Consulting Editor I mention further down. Brian had worked with Julie on his memoirs a couple years back, and Brian and I had spoken of him only last Friday. Brian said Julie's health was worsening, and he was faced with having to give up an independent life.

The Living Legend passed on this morning. He was a man who enjoyed what he did, and made an huge number of people happy doing it.

Thanks for everything, Julie.

More later,