RIP: Alvin Schwartz

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As usual, Mark Evanier has word of the passing of writer Alvin Schwartz at age 95, a prolific writer for DC in the ’40s and ’50s who invented many elements of the Superman canon:

Born in New York City in 1916, he showed a flair for writing at an early age. His first credit in comics appears to be a story for Western Publishing that appeared in Fairy Tale Parade in 1939. When I interviewed him in the nineties, he recalled that he’d done such an assignment but had no memory of how it came about. The job led to occasional work for Fawcett on Captain Marvel but mainly to a long stint at DC. Alvin began writing Batman comic books in 1942 and the Batman newspaper strip two years later, followed almost immediately by him taking over the writing of the Superman newspaper strip, as well. Until 1958, he wrote for most of the company’s comics including Aquaman, A Date With Judy, Buzzy, House of Mystery, Tomahawk, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern. The latter two were the 1940′s versions. He contributed much to the Superman legend but his best-remembered work would probably be his refinement (and probably, as he claimed, creation) of the character and concept of Bizarro.


In a later post, Evanier explored more of the origin of Bizarro:

Bizarro first appeared in print in Superboy #68, which was written by Otto Binder. Bizarro second appeared in print in the Superman newspaper strip, which was written by Alvin. Both were supervised by editor Mort Weisinger. Alvin always said that he created the character. I’m not sure if he wrote the script for the newspaper feature first or merely came up with the concept and sold Weisinger on it but he definitely said it was all his idea. There is no record of whether Mssrs. Weisinger or Binder concurred with this history and since all three are now deceased, that’s probably how the factual recital will remain. It would certainly not have been unusual for the scripts to have been written in a different sequence than their publication dates, and Weisinger was notorious for taking an idea pitched by one of his writers and assigning it to another.

Comments

  1. Paul Mounts says:

    Mark also mentions in his article Schwartz’ two recent books documenting his sometimes hallucinogenic spiritual journey and how writing comics affected his life, An Unlikely Prophet and A Gathering of Selves. I cannot recommend these highly enough. They’re centered around a seven-foot Buddhist monk who is a tulpa, or an individual brought into being by a Tibetan mystic. And Superman, it turns out, is also a tulpa. And they get weirder from there. Great, strange, thought-provoking stuff on the nature of man, Western v Eastern thought, and the concept of self.

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