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December 01, 2011 - Image 106

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-12-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

obituaries

Obituaries from page 89

Creator Of Superman's Bizarro Image Dies At 95

I Alan D. Abbey

JTA

A

uthor Alvin Schwartz, famous in
the comic books world for his
creation of Bizarro, Superman's
cracked mirror image, died Oct. 29 at 95
in Canada, where he had lived for many
years. He also wrote detective novels,
conducted motivational and marketing
research and, in his 80s, published two
books described as "remarkable spiritual
autobiographies."
Among the comics cognoscenti,
Schwartz is revered for creating Bizarro.
"He saw the Superman character ... as a
creature of radiant light; and conceived
Bizarro as sort of a dark Superman
— not evil, as opposed to Superman's
goodness, but a Superman without radi-
ance," one comics blogger wrote. Bizarro
debuted in a Superboy comic book in
1958 and since has returned many times
in many forms.
Schwartz, who was born in New York
City in 1916, wrote his first Batman story

in 1942, and his first Superman two
years later. He wrote most of DC Comics'
newspaper strips between 1944 and 1952
and also wrote stories for Aquaman,
Vigilante, Wonder Woman, The Flash,
Green Lantern and others. Schwartz also
wrote two Superman operas for the char-
acter's late 1940s radio program. In an
online forum Schwartz ran, he described
the programs as having sold successfully
on 78 rpm vinyl records; but bloggers say
one of the discs is a rarity prized by col-
lectors if it is findable at all.
Schwartz left the comics world in 1958
after disputes with the company that
owned Superman and continued on a
spiritual journey as he discovered that
"writing heroic characters — Superman,
especially — was giving him issues of
identity and a wide array of emotions
over his own worth as a human being."
In Schwartz's 1997 memoir, An Unlikely
Prophet: Revelations on the Path Without
Form, he wrote: "My ordinary, everyday
self — now that I understood — was
filially the key to everything. It was my
entree to the powers of the universe.

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90

December 1

s

2011

Obituaries

And it was also something else. It was
the place where the infinite rested on the
finite."
The book chronicles his visit by
Thongden, a 7-foot-tall Buddhist monk
who claims to be his tulpa, a physical rep-
resentation of Schwartz's imagination and
inner thought.
A 2006 follow-up, A Gathering of Selves:
The Spiritual Journey of the Legendary
Writer of Superman and Batman, tells
of how "with the aid of his mentor
Thongden, Schwartz is carried beyond the
ordinary boundaries of personal iden-
tity into an interpersonal consciousness
inhabited by a multitude of selves, includ-
ing the dark figure of Batman."
A description of the book said that
during the time he wrote for the comics,
Schwartz "lived a double life, one half of
which was spent writing the adventures
of Batman and Superman, the other
half writing novels and spending time
with members of New York's intellectual
society such as Saul Bellow and Jackson
Pollack.... While in An Unlikely Prophet
Schwartz was able to channel the ever-

Alvin Schwartz

present figure of Superman into a positive
voyage of self-discovery, in A Gathering of
Selves he uses the raw strength offered by
Batman to carry him to the next stage of
understanding: What we think of as 'self'
is but one layer of an onion-like structure
of multiple selves that coexist, represent-
ing the foundation of the fundamental
unity of all being." I I

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