A Gathering of Selves: The Spiritual Journey of the Legendary Writer of Superman and Batman

Excerpts & Samples

By Alvin Schwartz

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Alvin Schwartz

Alvin Schwartz
Alvin Schwartz wrote Superman and Batman strips as well as many other DC comic-book titles during the 1940s and '50s. In 2006 he received the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. He is the author of An Unlikely Prophet and The Blowtop, which was described by the New York More...



Continuing on the Path without Form introduced in An Unlikely Prophet, Alvin Schwartz discovers the many selves that dwell within a being.

• Depicts the author’s ability to use the raw strength and brooding force of Batman to reach the next level of enlightenment on a voyage of discovery of one’s self

• Explores the nature of consciousness as an interpersonal continuum of shared identities

For 17 years Alvin 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. During this period, his characters had taken on lives of their own, and he realized that his writing of their adventures was more like dictation than creation. He found that personalities can be taken off and on like the suits worn by his superheroes and that the lives of Batman and Superman were melding into his own. The journey of inner awareness that Schwartz undertook at the prompting of the tulpa Thongden (who appeared in his earlier book An Unlikely Prophet) evoked a great sense of metaphysical unrest, which is where this story begins. With the aid of his mentor Thongden, Schwartz is carried beyond the ordinary boundaries of personal identity into an interpersonal consciousness inhabited by a multitude of selves, including the dark figure of Batman.

While in An Unlikely Prophet Schwartz was able to channel the ever-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 co-exist, representing the foundation of the fundamental unity of all being.
“Alvin Schwartz is clearly one of the most amazing people ever to work in--maybe even out of--the nutty field of comic books. Channeling first Superman, then Batman, into an astonishing inner life and an equally astounding outer one, Alvin was living his life as a graphic novel before the term ever existed. Quite fitting for this unique talent and singular human being, who started out writing Fairy Tale Parade and made his four-color exit at stage left with Bizarro!”
Roy Thomas, author of Stan Lee's Amazing Marvel Universe and longtime writer and editor at Marvel and DC Comics