Saturday, June 25, 2011

In Memorium: Lew Sayre Schwartz

Sadly along with the passing of Gene Colan, comes news that Lew Sayre Schwartz has also died at the age of 84, and in a weird convergence, Schwartz too partially succumbed as the result of a head injury from a fall suffered last month.

Shortly after WWII, Lew Schwartz became one of the many talented folks working behind the scenes “ghosting” the Batman comic book stories that were solely credited publicly to Bob Kane (a list of talented creators that includes Dick Sprang, Jack Burnley, Stan Kaye, Sy Barry, Sid Greene, Joe Giella, Sheldon Moldoff, Win Mortimer, Jim Mooney, Charles Paris, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos, Chic Stone and writers Bill Finger and Gardner Fox). Schwartz himself penciled more than one-hundred and twenty Batman stories between 1947 and 1953; usually providing the entire art job plus lettering from the script, over which Kane might add certain touches to the main figures of Batman and Robin before sending it in. Lew Schwartz ghosted some other work on daily newspaper strips including several weeks on Secret Agent X-9 for Mel Graff, and The Saint. His own signature never appeared on any of this work, but he was well known among industry insiders. Lew left comics in the mid 1950s following a junket in Korea entertaining the troops, with a bunch of other cartoonists, including Irwin Hasen; after which he went into television advertising, at first drawing storyboards.
Schwartz co-founded a production company that worked on the Stanley Kubrick movie Dr. Strangelove, for which they brought an innovative style to the lettered credits and his long career in television includes segments for Sesame Street and directing a Barbara Streisand special.

In retirement he returned to the comic’s medium, collaborating with Dick Giordano on a short adaptation of Moby Dick for the kids’ market and a strip titled The Dinosaur Group that appeared for five years on the editorial page of the East Coast paper, The Standard Times. It was around 2002, that he was rediscovered by the world of comics. Lew Sayre Schwartz was a featured guest at the San Diego Comic-Con both that year and again in 2009.

The Catacombs extends its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans.


Anonymous said...

I actually have the MOBY DICK adaptation you mentioned, which I'd picked up for the art by Giordano (another great sadly lost in recent years). But now you've given me a face for the book's "reteller," Mr. Schwartz. Thanks much for your lovely ode to another of the many creative persons upon whose work Bob Kane shamefully built his name and fortune.
-P. Ryan Anthony

Unca Jeffy said...

Another giant gone. Late regards to his frineds and family.