Friday, September 12, 2008

Original Art Stories: Julius Schwartz's 77th Birthday

What makes the above sketch so special that I've been hunting it down for the past six years? Read on, McDuff.

According to Norm Breyfogle this sketch was done at the 1992 Wondercon celebration for Julie Schwartz's 77th birthday. I missed it the first time it came up for auction and am glad to own it now, especially considering the history behind it. Heritage Auctions originally sold it back in 2003 when Julie Schwartz divested himself off some of his personal items that related to comics books. Back then Heritage described it as follows, "Norm Breyfogle - Original Art Sketch, pen and ink (Unpublished, 1992). Norm Breyfogle draws a jubilant Batman with a birthday cake saying "Happy Birthday, Julius!" This piece is in excellent condition overall and measures approximately 9" x 12". From the personal collection of Julius Schwartz."

Since then I've tried to track it down, if only for what it represents. Normally a sketch that's been dedicated to any one person is all but useless, unless it's your name on the sketch or it represents something important. I'll easily go out on a limb here and say that it's not going to get much better, historically, than this, a birthday sketch by one of the best Batman artists of the past twenty five years and handed to the legendary editor of DC and the man who helped not only save but rejuvenated the character. So it's not only Norm Breyfogle attached to it's collector value, but also an item from the collection of Julie Schwartz.

I asked Norm what did he remember about the sketch and Julie. "I only saw Julie a small number of times," he remembered, "but we got along fine. Amusingly, he was always hitting on (Norm's then partner) Barb - amusing" because neither I nor Barb took him seriously, and Julie had a rep for that, and for outrageous humor in general."

Hey, it makes me happy, plus I'll take any opportunity to showcase art by Norm. Now if only someone at either Marvel or DC will shake themselves out of their collective slumbers and give Norm a regular book to do...

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