Julius Schwartz Would Be 100 Today

Landscape Photos of Julius Schwartz CROPJulius Schwartz, co-editor of one of the earliest fanzines, Ray Bradbury’s first literary agent, and editor of Superman comics for 25 years, was born a century ago today.

In 1932, Allen Glasser, Mort Weisinger, Forrest J Ackerman and Julius Schwartz produced Time Traveller, one of the first science fiction fanzines.

Schwartz was active in the Fantasy Amateur Press Association and provided this autobiography for its 1939 Yearbook:

Born June 19, 1915. I began reading science-fiction in 1929 and since that time have collected most of the science-fiction that has appeared from 1900 to the present time. In association with Mort Weisinger I started the first national fan magazine, The Time Traveler, in 1932. Later I became editor of Fantasy Magazine. In the last year I’ve revived my gossip column, “The Science Fiction Eye,” in Scientifiction  and The Science-Fiction Collector. Science Fiction League member #34. Literary agent, specializing in science-fiction, by profession.

Schwartz and Mort Weisinger had started the first sf literary agency, Solar Sales Service in 1934. Brian M. Thomsen co-wrote Schwartz’s autobiography Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics, and when Schwartz passed away in 2004, Thomsen and Harlan Ellison penned a detailed reminiscence about their friend, including the impact he had on the field as an agent:

Their first sale was of Edmond Hamilton’s “Master of the Genes” to Wonder Stories. They got 10% of the magnificent fee. The sale was for $35, do the math.

In 1935 Julie actually met H.P. Lovecraft, the great recluse, and somehow convinced him to let Solar Sales market one of his stories. An astounding $350 sale to Astounding Stories, the only time the supernatural scrivener managed to get into the top-paying market. By the time Weisinger left the agency for editorial jobs, Julie was representing the absolute caviar of that pool of imaginative writers: Henry Kuttner, the magnificent Stanley Weinbaum, Leigh Brackett, Manly Wade Wellman, Eric Frank Russell, Otto Binder, and even Robert Heinlein for one story. 1938: Julie snags Robert Bloch, eventually selling 75 stories, including the memorable, many-times-reprinted “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.” 1940: a kid named Alfred Bester comes to Julie, is mentored by him, and Julie makes his first sf sale, “Life for Sale,” to Amazing Stories. 1939: Julie meets a kid named Ray Bradbury, takes him on, sells “The Pendulum” to Super Science Stories, and it appears on the newsstands on Bradbury’s 21st birthday.

He attended the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York over July 4 weekend of 1939. Schwartz, Weisinger and Otto Binder would ditch the last day of the con to see a ballgame at Yankee Stadium – thereby getting to hear Lou Gehrig announce his retirement and listen to those famous lines echo throughout the park:

For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

juliusIn the next phase of Julius Schwartz’ career he wrote and edited for DC comics from 1944 till 1989 when he retired as Editor Emeritus.

His memory continues to be honored by the Julie Award, given annually at Dragon*Con.

Portrait Images Julius Schwartz CROP

[Thanks to John Coker III for suggesting the story and sending along the photo pages.]

Awards at DragonCon Banquet

Two honorees were in the spotlight at DragonCon’s awards banquet on August 31.

Julie Award
Terry Gilliam

The award, named for Julius Schwartz, is “bestowed for universal achievement spanning multiple genres.” The recipient is selected each year by a panel of industry professionals. The first one was given in 1998 to Ray Bradbury.

Hank Reinhardt Award
Ron Zukowski

Founded in 1990 as the Georgia Fandom Award, the Reinhardt is given to a Georgia fan who has contributed to the genre. The award was renamed in honor of Hank Reinhardt following his death in 2007. Ron Zukowski co-chaired ConFederation, the 1986 Worldcon held in Atlanta.

On This Day In History 7/4

Three AWOL Worldcon members were in Yankee Stadium when this picture was taken.

Three AWOL Worldcon members were in Yankee Stadium when this picture was taken.

July 4, 1939: Julius Schwartz ditched the last day of the first World Science Fiction Convention and went with Mort Weisinger and Otto Binder to see a ballgame at Yankee Stadium.

He still got to see fan history being made. Baseball fan history.

A very special thing happened that afternoon: Lou Gehrig announced his retirement from the game of baseball. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It’s something I will never forget.

Gehrig’s famous lines echoed throughout the park:

For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

(And if you’re any kind of baseball fan you should not miss the video of all 30 Major League first basemen doing Gehrig’s lines, something Fox Sports produced to mark the 75th anniversary of his speech.)

Brian M. Thomsen Passes Away (1959-2008)

Brian M. Thomsen (b. April 13, 1959), well-known for co-writing Julius Schwartz’s autobiography Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics, died suddenly on September 21. Author, anthologist, a consulting editor for Tor, Thomsen was a popular figure in the sf field.

Harlan Ellison has a short, grief-stricken notice on his website. (Coincidentally, Ellison and Thomsen co-wrote this obituary about Julie Schwartz following his death in 2004.)

See more information at http://www.sfwa.org/news/2008/bthomsen.htm.