Julius Schwartz, one of the most influential men ever to work in the comics industry, died yesterday at the ripe old age of 88. He'd been unwell for some time, so his passing isn't a surprise, but nevertheless it's a sad day for comics fandom and the comics industry.
I had the pleasure of meeting Julius Schwartz in 1985 at the Chicago Comicon. I told him that he had edited the first comic I ever read, and thanked him for his role in bringing me into the hobby. We chatted briefly about one of the comics he was currently editing, and then I moved off to talk to someone else. The last time I saw him was at the San Diego Comicon in 2002, where he appeared on a panel with Ray Bradbury, whom Schwartz had represented during his pre-comics career as a science-fiction literary agent. (The photo I used for this icon was taken during that panel. Schwartz was five years older than Bradbury, but while Bradbury appeared rather frail, Schwartz looked positively spry.
I also saw him at the panel described here by Mark Evanier:
Scott Shaw! assembled a slide show of a couple hundred of the odder covers that appeared on Schwartz-edited comics. Then we did a panel where Scott projected said slides and I sat with a microphone to interview Julie and extract whatever recollections were evoked by each cover. It was sound in theory but in practice, it went more or less like this...
ME: Here's the cover of Strange Adventures #144 where you have the Atomic Knights riding giant dalmatian dogs. How did you come up with an idea like that?
JULIE: Boy, I don't remember this cover at all.
I just realized that I won't see him the next time I attend a comics convention. That seems kind of strange to me; as DC's "Goodwill Ambassador," he's been at every con I've ever attended. I didn't know him, but I'll miss him.
Check out Mark Evanier's web site for more tributes to this remarkable man.