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Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics

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Before there were science fiction fans and conventions, there was Julius Schwartz. One of the inventors of science fiction fandom in the '30s, he became the world's first SF specialty literary agent while still in his teens, representing a distinguished roster of authors including H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury. One of the most influential editors in comic-book history, Before there were science fiction fans and conventions, there was Julius Schwartz. One of the inventors of science fiction fandom in the '30s, he became the world's first SF specialty literary agent while still in his teens, representing a distinguished roster of authors including H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury. One of the most influential editors in comic-book history, Schwartz was also responsible for revitalizing nearly every important DC Comics character, in what has since become known as comics beloved "Silver Age" Over more than 40 years, Schwartz captained such blazing talents of the comics industry as Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Neal Adams, Denny O'Neill, Alan Moore, and many others. Here, in "Julie's" own words, is the behind-the-scenes story of a true hero of American pop culture.


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Before there were science fiction fans and conventions, there was Julius Schwartz. One of the inventors of science fiction fandom in the '30s, he became the world's first SF specialty literary agent while still in his teens, representing a distinguished roster of authors including H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury. One of the most influential editors in comic-book history, Before there were science fiction fans and conventions, there was Julius Schwartz. One of the inventors of science fiction fandom in the '30s, he became the world's first SF specialty literary agent while still in his teens, representing a distinguished roster of authors including H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury. One of the most influential editors in comic-book history, Schwartz was also responsible for revitalizing nearly every important DC Comics character, in what has since become known as comics beloved "Silver Age" Over more than 40 years, Schwartz captained such blazing talents of the comics industry as Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Neal Adams, Denny O'Neill, Alan Moore, and many others. Here, in "Julie's" own words, is the behind-the-scenes story of a true hero of American pop culture.

30 review for Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    This is a fun and interesting book, but not the book I was expecting and perhaps not the book it should have been. It's less an autobiography or historical reminiscence than a string of anecdotes, most with punchlines designed to show how cute and clever Schwartz was. It skips about peripatetically and wholly ignores whole facets of his life and times, but it does present some truly amazing stories and includes some terrific photographs. For example, who knew that Hannes Bok did a cover for Weir This is a fun and interesting book, but not the book I was expecting and perhaps not the book it should have been. It's less an autobiography or historical reminiscence than a string of anecdotes, most with punchlines designed to show how cute and clever Schwartz was. It skips about peripatetically and wholly ignores whole facets of his life and times, but it does present some truly amazing stories and includes some terrific photographs. For example, who knew that Hannes Bok did a cover for Weird Tales in 1939 that featured L. Ron Hubbard and Malcolm Jameson's daughter Vida as the models? The memories seem about equally split the comics and science fiction fields, and Schwartz rarely has anything really bad to say about anyone. (The worst seemed to me to be that he felt Bob Kane had little talent.) On the other hand, there's a marked lack of depth on most subjects... I think "fun but lacks depth" sums it all up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard Gray

    "Julie" Schwartz can rightfully boast that he pioneered both science fiction in the 1930s, and then multiple eras of comic books as well. It's actually the former that I picked up this book for, enjoying the anecdotes of his early days with the likes of Mort Weisinger, Forrest Ackerman and Allen Glasser. While he skims his way from the 1950s through the 1990s, a necessary byproduct of a memoir written by a man in his 80s, Schwartz doesn't hold back either. There's some fingers pointed and praise "Julie" Schwartz can rightfully boast that he pioneered both science fiction in the 1930s, and then multiple eras of comic books as well. It's actually the former that I picked up this book for, enjoying the anecdotes of his early days with the likes of Mort Weisinger, Forrest Ackerman and Allen Glasser. While he skims his way from the 1950s through the 1990s, a necessary byproduct of a memoir written by a man in his 80s, Schwartz doesn't hold back either. There's some fingers pointed and praised heaped in equal measure at Mort, Bob Kane, Gardner Fox, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Alfred Bester and countless other certified Friends of Julie. A fast read - broken up by capsule bios and asides concerning many of the aforementioned names - even for the most ardent of fans there'll be some nugget of hidden truth in here. If nothing else, it's a reminder what dedicating a life to something you are passionate about looks like.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Imagine being lucky enough to be a living legend in two fields. And no garden variety legend, but rather a persona that is beloved by people in both SF and comics. You would then have the idea of what it means to be Julius Schwartz. Or at least as he presents himself in his fluffy yet entertaining autobiography Man of Two Worlds. Schwartz, one of the best known editors in the comics field, has spent the last several years as DC Comics’ official goodwill ambassador at conventions. Almost any profe Imagine being lucky enough to be a living legend in two fields. And no garden variety legend, but rather a persona that is beloved by people in both SF and comics. You would then have the idea of what it means to be Julius Schwartz. Or at least as he presents himself in his fluffy yet entertaining autobiography Man of Two Worlds. Schwartz, one of the best known editors in the comics field, has spent the last several years as DC Comics’ official goodwill ambassador at conventions. Almost any professional that has attended a convention has met the kind hearted Julie. He’s a difficult man to dislike. And this book will not change that perception of the man. What Man of Two Worlds does is place Schwartz within the context of SF literary history. And if even half of this book is to be believed, then what a place it is. Schwartz began, like many in the field, as a fan. This was back in the 1920's before fandom when Amazing Stories was in its infancy. The young Schwartz teamed up with fellow SF fan Mort Weisinger and produced the first SF fanzine (along with Forrest J Ackerman). The duo then formed the first SF literary agency. Mort pointed out to me, “The writers don’t know what these editors need at the time when they need it. They just bang out their stories... and then blindly submit them, running the risk that while their story is sitting on one desk, a hole in an issue of another magazine is waiting to be filled by a story just like theirs- provided they get around to submitting there before the hole gets filled. They just sit at their typewriters turning out stuff, hoping they are in the right place at the right time.” “Aha! I get it!” I cut in. “What they really need is an agent to tip them off as to who wants what!” “To make sure that they are in the right place at the right time.” “Exactly!” I agreed. We were still not yet out of our teens, but that didn’t stop us from teaming up as the first literary agents specializing in science fiction and fantasy. The agency would go on to represent some of the legends of the field. Lovecraft, Bradbury, Bester, Bloch, Weinbaum, Kuttner and Brackett were all clients of Solar Sales Service. (The young Schwartz was a fan of alliteration.) These early tales of Schwartz in the burgeoning SF field are easily the most interesting part of the book. There are far too many stories to mention, but the bits about his involvement with the first World Science Fiction Convention (1939 in New York) and the ensuing happenings at the con are fascinating. This is a rare insider’s glimpse of one of the seminal events in SF fandom in both words and pictures. The convention featured, in addition to the program book, a few other famous convention firsts. Forry Ackerman showed up in his “Things to Come”/Buck Rogers getup (thus inaugurating costumes at conventions), and I remember fans stopping Jack Williamson and L. Sprague de Camp on the street for their autographs (thus inaugurating convention signings). There was a guest of honor- Frank R. Paul- and even a banquet that thirty-two people attended, a sumptuous feast of lamb chops, peas, and French fries, with all of the trimmings including sherbert for dessert and all for a dollar, at the ultra swanky Wyndham Restaurant. (Ray Bradbury had to sit off to the side because he couldn’t afford the meal at that time in his career since he had already borrowed money from Forry so that he could make the cross-country trek to the con.) Schwartz has many anecdotal tales of his clients and others. There are stories about all the biggies. Asimov, Heinlen, Hubbard, Ellison, and others are all here. The early parts of this book are SF fandom lore. Any fan of the genre will enjoy these bits. In the early 1940's, the legendary Alfred Bester was the regular writer of DC’s (then known as National) Green Lantern when they needed a new editor. Bester convinced his good friend and agent Schwartz to assume the position. Thus ended Julius Schwartz’s career as an agent as he moved onto the career he would have for the next fifty years. And that is when Man of Two Worlds gets a lot less interesting. Before we go any further I must clear the air a bit. Not only am I a huge comic book fan and amateur comic historian but I have worked on several projects in the medium (including two books that have been nominated for Eisners). I say this not to toot my own horn but to point out that I love comic books and so my lack of interest at this point in the book is for other reasons. There are many interesting moments. Some of them are embarrassing, some of them informative. All of them make Julius Schwartz look like a super editor. According to this autobiography, there was nothing he couldn’t do wrong. Late in the book he is discussing his successful efforts on Superman and Batman and the resulting media tie-ins when we get this passage: After a while I was looked on by my bosses at DC as a sort of media good-luck charm. After all I had taken Batman and -POW!- a hit TV series. Then I took over Superman and-BAM!- a hit movie. So then I was asked to take over a series called Dial H for Hero in hopes of getting a series off the ground. I took over and THUD! Well, not even Babe Ruth hit a homer every time at bat. That is the extent of Schwartz’s humility in the book. I think it could have used a little more of that. Another problem is that I still don’t feel like I know the man. After reading an autobiography, one should understand the motivations, likes, and dislikes of a person. I learned little about the man himself. Man of Two Worlds is much more a memoir of a life in science fiction and comics than the story of a man’s life. This is not to say that the latter part of this book doesn’t have its fair share of entertaining stories. (Julius Schwartz was stepping down as editor of Superman and was looking for someone to write the ultimate last Superman story. Due mostly to contractual problems, Schwartz’s original choice Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel how to bow out.) The next morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about finding a replacement for Jerry. I was having breakfast with a young writer by the name of Alan Moore, with whom I had a good working relationship, and mentioned my predicament to him in hopes of blue skying some possible solutions. At that point he literally leaped out of his chair, reached across the table, put his hands around my neck, and said, “If you let anybody but me write that story, I’ll kill you!” And since I didn’t want to be an accessory to my own murder, I agreed. Another of my favorite bits about this book is the sidebars. Schwartz takes us on some interesting side trips with perhaps the best being Julie’s Hints on Working in Comics During the Silver Age. Told in three separate parts, this offers some of the tenants of comic book selling that Schwartz discovered over the years. My personal favorite is “A gorilla on the cover doing something un-gorillalike will surely sell.” Gorillas and comics have a long proud history together. Strange Adventures had had a particularly successful issue that featured a gorilla in a cage holding up a sign that indicated that he was really a man who had been the victim of an experiment that had gone awry, thus starting a trend in cover art featuring gorillas- all of which, incidentally, sold better than those without gorillas on them. This entertaining book defines the legacy of Julius Schwartz in a light and friendly fashion. His vital place in both science fiction and comics is self-evident and secure. The Man of Two Worlds is a fitting encapsulation of a beloved legend’s sixty-year career.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Wetherington

    Nice, compact (only 197 pages) autobiography of one of the legends of the Silver Age of DC Comics who was responsible for much of the mythology of heroes like Superman, Batman, and the Flash.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael P.

    Julius Schwartz managed to make a living from being a nerd. An early supporter of early sci-fi, a friend and sometimes a benefactor to sci-fi writers, and a fan who helped invent fandom, Schwartz eventually became an editor at the company now known as DC Comics in the forties, co-inventing and/or editing The Justice Society of America stories, Flash, and several of DC’s other Golden Age characters. He reinvented the superhero in the late fifties and is alone responsible for the editorial policie Julius Schwartz managed to make a living from being a nerd. An early supporter of early sci-fi, a friend and sometimes a benefactor to sci-fi writers, and a fan who helped invent fandom, Schwartz eventually became an editor at the company now known as DC Comics in the forties, co-inventing and/or editing The Justice Society of America stories, Flash, and several of DC’s other Golden Age characters. He reinvented the superhero in the late fifties and is alone responsible for the editorial policies that revived them and comic books generally. Stan Lee shamelessly took what Schwartz had done in GREEN LANTERN, added his own glibness, and pretended to reinvent comics in the “Mighty Marvel Manor.” Schwartz also wrote this book that is mostly about his career, but to some extent also about his life outside of comics, especially in sci-fi, and about selected colleagues. The editor writes a very readable and informative book, maybe a four-star book, except that he is prone to say stupid things, such as equating his work as editor of DC’s STRANGE ADVENTURES, an anthology comic with juvenile sci-fi stories, to the work of those like John W. Campbell and Hugo Gernsback, who really invented sci-fi as a genre by publishing the best short stories and novels (as serials) in the field and establishing its identity by editing magazines that contained little but sci-fi. They published Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A. Heinlein. Schwartz published John Broome and Garner F. Fox, who wrote fun kid’s comics, but this and similar statements make Schwartz look ridiculous. This is a good-enough book that is worth the time of anyone interesting in the history of this little corner of publishing. I understand that Schwartz was a very nice man who inspired loyalty in is friends, but be warned that Schwartz’s obnoxious ego sometimes intrudes in this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Butch Rosenbalm

    As you can guess, this is an autobiography (with help from Brian M Thomsen) of the incredible Julius "Julie" Schwartz. Mr Schwartz first entered my life as being one of the main editors of DC Comics. He even appeared in a few stories in the 70s and early 80s. Figuring this would give more insight to the era I first started reading comics, I learned oh so much more about Mr Schwartz. He's one of the fathers of Science Fiction fandom, one of the publishers of the first "fanzine" and one of the fir As you can guess, this is an autobiography (with help from Brian M Thomsen) of the incredible Julius "Julie" Schwartz. Mr Schwartz first entered my life as being one of the main editors of DC Comics. He even appeared in a few stories in the 70s and early 80s. Figuring this would give more insight to the era I first started reading comics, I learned oh so much more about Mr Schwartz. He's one of the fathers of Science Fiction fandom, one of the publishers of the first "fanzine" and one of the first scifi literary agents. Heck, I never knew he sold H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" after it was rejected twice. Moving past my fanboy notes, this book was fascinating and easy to read. It's not the hardest book in the world to read, but I think it works for it. The chapters were short, concise and told whatever story they were suppose to. I know it's a cliche, but I honestly couldn't put this book down. I started reading on a Thursday and only put it down to sleep, work and drive. I finished it by Saturday and was enthralled the entire time. If you are interested in SciFi history or comic book history (mostly DC but there are a few Marvel related stores in it), well worth picking up. Very glad I got this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Wow. Just WOW. If you call yourself more than just a casual comics fan, this is a must-read. Julie changed the face of not only comics, but the whole sci-fi genre to boot. If it wasn't for Julius Schwartz, neither might exist at all today. I had the great honor of meeting Julie more than once before his death, and I will always treasure those moments. In fact, I purchased my copy of this book from him, the last copy he had with him at Dragoncon back in 03.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A fascinating look at the history of comics and sci-fi publishing through the life of a man who made much of that history happen.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Interesting back story from one of the influential comic book editors at DC Comics.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anatole Wilson

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brent

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hal Johnson

  13. 4 out of 5

    AT

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hendricks

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah K

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rob Salkowitz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Rosa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rex

  23. 4 out of 5

    Keith

  24. 5 out of 5

    Walter

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zack Davisson

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Marsh

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lou

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Hoyle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heath

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ryan M.

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