Saturday, 26 January 2008

Lew Sayre Schwartz

Last week, blogger 'Sivercat17' (found via JLRoberson at the TCJ board) did us the favour of scanning a whole 1953 Batman story (minus the title page) from Detective #193, March 1953: The Joker's Journal

It's one of some 120 Batman stories ghosted for Bob Kane by Lew Sayre Schwartz, one of my favourite artists from way back long before I ever knew his name. I've been fond of his work since when I was ten or eleven and used to colour it with crayons in some black and white reprints that i still keep. I wrote a long essay on the subject, though note that the crayon coloured pages shown there are by Moldoff. In 2001 I interviewed Lew for the first issue of my magazine Egomania (still avalable for five bucks) and he identified The Joker's Journal as his, recalling that he put himself in one panel (see left smoking pipe).
The most recent volume (#6, 2005) of Batman Archives, reprinting all the Batman stories from Detective Comics, have the first ones (six of them) that Schwartz drew (always uncredited), but in my opinion have failed to correctly identify the very first (#122, April 1947):

Both DC and the Grand Comicbook Database give the art to Kane, but that would be the default position anyway. The work is too good to possibly have been drawn by Kane; i'm particularly enamored of this charming circus scene:

The trouble is that the job also looks superior to the immediately subsequent stories that Schwartz drew. The first time I saw this cinematic sweep of the Statue of Liberty I was baffled as to who the artist could possibly be and as late as ten years ago I still had it filed it under 'not yet identifiable'.

But don't we all try much harder on the first outing, in the hope of securing regular employment?