He was a giant among giants.
One of the great artists, Wally Wood, was born last week. So was one of the great writers, Bob Kanigher. But a man who surpassed both, whose impact on popular culture was extraordinary in retrospect, was also born last week: Julius Schwartz, perhaps the most important and influential editor in DC Comics history.
He was an editor in the Golden Age and a successful agent in the world of science fiction literature. Most importantly, was the father of the Silver Age, rolling the dice on reinventing the Flash and ushering in the era of modern superheroes. Without DC‘s success at bringing back characters like Green Lantern and dusting off the idea of the superteam with the Justice League of America, you can easily argue that Stan Lee might have ended up a footnote in comics history.
Over the last 59 years, there have been substantial changes and improvisations on the notion of the superhero. Today’s comics bear little resemblance to those made in 1956, 1966 or even 1976.
But the foundation was built by Schwartz on the bones of an industry laid low by ugly congressional hearings and a charlatan shrink.
Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Ray Palmer, John Stewart, Ra’s al Ghul, Barbara Gordon. Superman, Batman, the JLA. The list goes on and on and on.
All were created or flourished under the watchful eye of Julius Schwartz, entering the broader public consciousness with help from fellow editors, writers and artists — and the spiritual godchildren who followed.
I could do 13 COVERS honoring Schwartz‘s legacy but that would never be enough. Instead, it’s 100 COVERS — (mostly) from the Silver Age onward — celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth, June 19, 1915. (Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the images.):