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In Memoriam: Lew Sayre Schwartz

July 1, 2011

Lew Sayre Schwartz, 84, of Peterborough, NH passed away Saturday, June 18, 2011 after complications from a recent injury. He was husband to Barbara Schwartz and they would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this November.

He was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1926. After graduating from New Bedford High School, he moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League. Lew served in the Navy as an aerial gunner, radar operator and PR journalist during World War II and the Korean conflict. After being married in New Bedford, MA, Lew and Barbara moved to Wilton CT where they raised their family. They moved to Cape Cod in 1973, to a home on the water where Lew enjoyed fishing and boating for many years.

In 1947, Lew went to work for Bob Kane, creator of Batman, becoming Kane’s personal ghost artist until mid 1953, while also working on staff for King Features Syndicate.

In 1955, he joined the J. Walter Thompson agency in New York City, launching a career as a writer, producer and director for film and television that would last for more than forty years.

In 1961 he co-founded the film production company Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz, which went on to win many national and international awards for creative filmmaking, including six Clios and four Emmys.

Lew was honored in 2002 with the prestigious Inkpot Award at the Comic-Con International in San Diego for his work on the Golden Age Batman comics. He was also one of the three remaining Golden Age Batman artists to be honored at Comic-Con July 2009.

His family will remember him for his passion for art, food, books, gardening, and politics. He is survived by his wife Barbara, daughter Jill, three sons—Jed, Andrew and Nathaniel, along with four grandsons, four granddaughters, and two great granddaughters.

Early life and educationSchwartz was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on July 24, 1926. He was educated at the Swain School of Design. Already a fan of Chic Young, artist on the Blondie comic strip, it was here he became introduced to the art of Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles and David Stone Martin through a school friend. After Swain Schwartz went to the Art Students League of New York and became friendly with Milton Caniff, occasionally spending his lunch breaks at Caniff's watching him work.[1] Schwartz described Caniff as a father figure:

Well, my father died when I was 12, and Milton became a father figure, in a certain way. He had all the accoutrements y'know? The more I read about him, he was what I wanted to become. The fact he hand-fed me, in answering my mail and being very nice and that I could call and he would talk to me on the phone, was exciting. [edit] War years and early workIn 1944, Schwartz enlisted in the Navy, describing it as more partial than the Army, and he was trained at Jacksonville as a radar operator and gunner. After two years service, Schwartz left the Navy and for a time worked for Rod Willard on Scorchy Smith. In 1946, as well as becoming a founding member of the National Cartoonists Society,Schwartz met Bob Kane on a beach in Miami. Kane hired him to work on a baseball strip called Dusty Diamond which Kane stated he was developing with Will Eisner. Although Eisner had no memory of this strip in later years, Eddie Campbell has identified it as being for publication in Tab— The Comic Weekly. The strip never saw print as Tab was cancelled after one issue.[ In 1947, Schwartz was hired as an artist for the Herald-Tribune comic strip based on The Saint. However, creative difficulties led to Schwartz leaving the strip in place of Mike Roy.[10][1] After The Saint, Schwartz found a job at King Features Syndicate through Caniff, initially working on preparing the Steve Canyon strip for publication in various sizes. He also ghosted on the Brick Bradford and Secret Agent X-9 newspaper strips.[

BatmanSchwartz also began ghosting for Bob Kane. Kane, advised by his father, had refused to enter into a class action against DC Comics with Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for ownership of their respective characters. Instead, Kane signed a deal with DC which guaranteed him steady income producing a set number of Batman story pages a year for publication. Kane then hired other artists to produce this work for him. Schwartz was one such artist hired, and stated that he likely produced 240 pages a year for Kane over a seven-year period. Schwartz notes that Kane was "afraid to give anybody else any credit. ... Bob was scared to death it would be taken away if he acknowledged people that were helping him or even drawing for the strip."[ For his own part, Schwartz kept quiet about the assignment due in part to its well paid nature and in part to shame: "I didn't want to be associated with the books. At that particular time it was beneath my status... or my objectives. Let's put it that way."

After BatmanSchwartz left Batman in 1953, describing himself as unable and unwilling to draw Batman for Bob Kane again. He joined a Cartoonists Society trip to Korea, during the Korean War, and found himself assigned to the Eighth Army stationed in Seoul. Here he entertained the troops doing "chalk talks", inevitably once again drawing Batman day after day. After Korea, Schwartz found employment in the advertising industry, first with the J. Walter Thompson Company, where he started as a story-board artist but soon worked his way up through Art Director to a Producer in the Film Department. In 1961 he left J. Walker Thompson and entered into partnership with the animators Pablo Ferro and Fred Mogubgub, founding Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz, with Schwartz bringing his ad agency experience to the table. The company went on to receive six Clio Awards, and also produced the acclaimed animated credits for the Stanley Kubrick film Dr Strangelove. It was through Schwartz that Kubrick acquired the stock footage of the explosion which ends the movie. Schwartz sourced and arranged for it to be delivered to London through a contact Milton Caniff had in the USAF. Towards the end of the 1960s Schwartz formed his own company working as a film-maker and producing sequences for Sesame Street and numerous network specials. During this time Schwartz's work garnered four Emmy Awards, including one in 1968 for Take It Off, broadcast on November 4, 1967 on WABC-TV. He also wrote, directed and produced documentaries on both Norman Rockwell, Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post, and a self -financed one on Milton Caniff, describing them both as "labors of love".

By 1988 Schwartz had co-founded The Dinosaur Group Inc., producing The Dinosaur Group, a weekly strip for The Standard Times. This lasted for five years. He was then hired by the City of New Bedford to produce a graphic novel version of Moby Dick, for which he performed lay-out duties from which Dick Giordano provided the art. Schwartz found this collaboration, in contrast to the one with Kane, to be a very joyful experience. Schwartz also taught at the School of Visual Arts where he created the school's film department.

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