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.]

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7 thoughts on “Julius Schwartz Would Be 100 Today

  1. Julie was a gem! The very essence of fannish exuberance. Always with a kind word and welcoming hand to newbies and old fen alike. It’s hard to portray he and his fellow First Fandomites to those who didn’t have the chance to meet them. Seems the cauldron of the Great Depression and WWII brewed up some wonderful spirits.

  2. I should save this story somewhere. I briefly met Mr. Schwartz during Ithacon in Ithaca NY during the late 1980s (probably 87). I was in an audience at a panel, and Mr. Schwartz was sitting next to me by chance. Sitting in front of me (also by chance) was Wendy Pini (artist for Elfquest) with her dog, and her dog did not take a liking to me for some reason. I wasn’t doing anything, but the dog growled at me. Ms. Pini turned around (probably thinking I was teasing the dog), gave me a really mean look, said “Watch it.” and turned back. (At this stage, I was nervous that the dog growled and one of the major guests of the convention was irritated by me.) Then Mr. Schwartz turned to me, smiled and said “Don’t worry, I’ll vouch for you.” It remains a warm memory still.

  3. One time when I was running a fan table at SDCC (when they were still in the main exhibitor hall), I was surprised by Julius walking up to our table to ask about us and just to chat. He likely had just been in Artists Alley chatting with people like Frank Kelley Freas (who Weird Al had walked by earlier going to see him). He was a class act and is missed.

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