Thursday, March 18, 2004

What Alan said about Julie...

I wasn't sure what I was going to say this morning at Julius Schwartz's memorial. None of my Julie anecdotes really go anywhere, and they all sort of reduce down to we just liked each other very much, and I was in awe of him, and Julie got a huge kick out of the fact that I cared and was interested and was impressed by his stories of the early days of SF ("You know who that guy in the photo next to me is? Huh? Countryman of yours. Eric Frank Russell.") And then, as I arrived, I was asked if I would read something that Alan Moore had sent to be read, and I said I would love to. He said everything I would have wanted to have said, and said it better than I ever could.

So I read it at Julie's memorial, trying to pace and pitch it as Alan would have done, and afterward people kept coming up to me and asking if I could post it, or copy it for them. Alan graciously gave his permission for it to be posted here. Bob Wayne was kind enough to send it to me in electronic form, so I didn't have to type it all in again.


Just off the 'plane from England, anything except fresh out of Kennedy, within an hour or two we'd all been introduced to Julie, all us early eighties economic migrants, awestruck, wide-eyed, staring like religiously-converted lemurs as at last we met our childhood's god, the intergalactic cabby who wouldn't shut up, the curator of the space museum. We loved Julie in the way that we'd love anyone we'd known since we were small, who'd shared with us that secret, rustling, flashlight-dazzled space beneath the midnight counterpane. We loved him in the way that we loved covers with gorillas on.

We followed at his heels, a quacking flock, along the migraine-yellow dot-toned hallways at the DC offices, and if he thought of us as irritating Carl Barks nephews, as the Hueys, Deweys and Louies that he's never really wanted, then he didn't let it show. Quite the reverse. Julie indulged us like a visiting school-trip for pale, consumptive English orphans, fragile coughing invalids at Fresh Air Camp. He sneaked us presents, file copies of some treasured Mystery in Space pulled from the morgue drawers in his office, from which rose the perfume of his life, long decades of pulp pages, fifty thousand comic racks in every corner magazine store that you ever visited or dreamed about.

He knew a captive audience when he saw one, and appreciated our appreciation. All the anecdotes were new to us, the creaking chair-bound jokes fresh as this morning's lox. The funeral for a much-feared fellow editor he told us of, whereat the section of the service set aside for testaments and kindly words concerning the deceased stretched into long, embarrassed silence until someone at the back stood up and ventured the opinion that the late lamented's brother had been worse. We were a pushover. He made us laugh, he knocked us dead, and then there was the scrapbook, with its pages full of letters, pictures, signatures. "I am, sir, your devoted servant, H.P. Lovecraft." Photographs of Julie, young with diamond cutter eyes behind wire-rimmed spectacles. Men in dark coats and Homburg hats on winter corners in New York, grey vapour twisting up from manhole covers, from cigars. "You see the crewcut kid, the newsboy there? That's Bradbury." We'd gape and nod, could not have possibly been more impressed if he'd said, "See that old guy in the toga, standing by Ed Hamilton? That's Zeus."

And now we hear that Julie has been�discontinued? Cancelled? But they said the same about Green Lantern and the Flash back in the early 'fifties, so we can't be certain. This is comics. There'll be some way around it, be some parallel world Earth-Four Julie, born thirty years later to account for problems in the continuity, and decked out in a jazzier, more streamlined outfit.

A funny, brilliant, endlessly enthusiastic twelve year old got up in an old man suit, Julie spent his life mining the gold-seam of the future; is too big, then, to be ever truly swallowed by the past. He was a friend, he was an inspiration, was the founder of our dreams. He ruined my reputation as a gentle pacifist by claiming that I'd seized him by the throat and sworn to kill him if he didn't let me write his final episodes of Superman, and how, now, am I supposed to contradict a classic Julius Schwartz yarn? So, all right: it's true. I picked him up and shook him like a British nanny, and I hope wherever he is now, he's satisfied by this shamefaced confession.

Goodnight, Julie. It has been our privilege to have known you.

You were the best.

Alan Moore
Northampton, March 17th, 2004.