Comic Legends: Did Alex Toth Really Hang Julius Schwartz Out a Window?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and ninth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the weekly three legends.

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Alex Toth once hung Julius Schwartz out of a window when Schwartz wouldn't pay him his regular payment in a timely fashion.


I'm Going With False

When I wrote recently about a dispute Alex Toth got into with Joe Kubert, I realized that, despite this being one of the most famous urban legends in comics history, I somehow never featured it here, so, well, here you are, just thirteen years late!

The basic gist of the story was repeated in a story in Destroyer Duck #1 by Martin Pasko, Joe Staton and Scott Shaw!, only with the names changed and with the characters altered so that it is a writer and not an artist and that the editor in question was Robert Kanigher instead of Julius Schwartz (with Schwartz appearing in the story, as well)...

Same basic story applied, though, that Alex Toth hung Julius Schwartz out of a window in a rage.

Since pretty much everyone around the time has told the same story about the "truth" of the incident, I am willing to go with this one being false.

Here is Gil Kane on the incident (interviewed by Steve Whitaker)...

Steve: He loved Toth but, if what I’ve been led to believe is true, he’s been held out of a window by him.

Gil: No, that’s not at all true, totally apocryphal. Alex was very difficult for any of the editors to work with – he simply wouldn’t take orders. He would rewrite material. In fact he got fired because he’d gotten to the point where he was drawing material and totally ignoring editorial restraints. It got to a point where he and Julie weren’t even talking to each other. I was in the office when Alex came in for a paycheck whilst Julie was on lunch hour. Julie would not stop playing cards on lunch hour to give Alex his cheque – he said “See me after lunch.” So Toth stewed for about half an hour and finally he came in and threatened to kill Schwartz if he didn’t give him his cheque. He frightened Julie because he was absolutely insensate with rage.

Here is Carmine Infantino (from Infantino's biography)...

“Julie (Schwartz) played pinochle with Milt Snappin during his lunch hour. That was a scared time for him. That’s why Alex Toth had that fight with Julie. Alex came in at lunch time and asked for his paycheck. Julie told him to wait until he’d finished lunch. Now, everybody knew not to bother Julie during that time, but Alex didn’t care. He wanted his money now. Julie could have given Alex his check, it’d only have taken a moment of his time, but he didn’t want to do it. He wanted to play cards and have lunch and be left alone. I think there was tension between them anyway. Alex hated drawing Jimmy Wakely and he wanted to draw only what he wanted to draw. Well, you couldn’t take that attitude with Julie. He was the boss and didn’t put up with a lot of nonsense. So they had a fight, and Alex walked out. Both of those guys were stubborn.”

Kanigher also told the same story to Robin Snyder in The Comics Journal back in the mid-1980s. My pal Christopher Irving also interviewed Kanigher in 1997 and here is how Kanigher told the story:

I couldn’t have fired Alex if I wanted to (and I wouldn’t have), because I wasn’t the editor. Julie fired him for this unbelievable reason. We shared an office together. I had nothing against him. Whenever he got into a jam, he asked me for a script. What I did was, since our offices were ass to ass, I built a tiny wall of books between us so I didn’t have to see his face. He was very methodical: he always ate in, and he would play cards with Milty Snappins. Alex used to come in at noontime for work he’d already done. His check was in Julie’s desk, in the top drawer. All he had to do was open it and give it to him.

How long would that take? Five seconds. He refused to give it to him because he “dared to enter the office of an editor at lunchtime.” Alex started to yell, Julie started to yell, and Julie fired him. Julie didn’t have the GUTS to say that he fired him, not me. But people thought that, since I created Johnny Thunder (which Alex drew) and I created The Trigger Twins, and I designed all the covers (I always designed the covers of any books that I edited and any feature stories that I always did; I happened to have the gift for that).

Thanks, Chris!

When everyone around the events of a legend say that it happened one way, I'm inclined to believe them, so I'm going with a false here.

Check out some entertainment legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Was There an Ending Filmed for Raiders of the Lost Ark That Was Cut From U.S. Prints of the Film?

2. Was There Originally a Coca-Cola Ad Mixed Into A Charlie Brown Christmas?

3. Did the Flintstones Do Commercials for Winston Cigarettes?

4. How Did Missing Scrabble Pieces Lead to the Creation of Trivial Pursuit?

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this week's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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