Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: J.B. Lowitz

John Buckingham “Swifty” Lowitz was born in New York on August 1, 1873. Lowitz’s birth date was recorded on his World War I draft card, and his birthplace was found on census records and passenger lists.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Lowitz as the second of three sons born to “Denny”, a German merchant, and “Isabella”. The family resided in Plainfield, New Jersey, at 70 West Sixth Street. Gazoozaland has biographical information about Lowitz’s father here

Gazoozaland said: “…The Lowitz family spent the summer of 1889 in Paris and while there John Lowitz was hired by Thomas A. Edison to help introduce his new Edison phonograph to Europeans. John was multilingual and a very confident young man indeed.” However, the Daily Argus, (Mount Vernon, New York), February 18, 1941, said: “Due to his ability to speak French and German, Mr. [Robert] Lowitz when nineteen was asked to represent Thomas A. Edison at a Paris Exposition. Mr. Lowitz had charge of graph at the Exposition and played it in the Eiffel Tower before the royalty of Europe.” According to a passenger list at, the family returned to New York on June 28, 1890.

In the 1892 New York State Census, the Lowitz family lived in Brooklyn, New York. Lowitz was working in the oil industry. Gazoozaland said Lowitz married Louise Morris in 1894. Information regarding Lowitz’s art training has not been found.

Lowitz produced several strips for the New York World: The Cathode Ray (1896), The Never-Was People (1897), Gay Gazoozaland (1897), Captain Kidd Kids (1897), Barnyard Club (1898) and Bill, the Collector of Bills (1903). Swifty and His Wonderful Dreams debuted December 6, 1903 in the New York Herald. A photograph of Lowitz was published in Broadway Magazine, January 1899.

Lowitz Signature

Lowitz pursued work other than comics. The 1900 census said Lowitz was a clerk in the dry goods trade. Lowitz’s family included a four-year-old son at his residence in Orvil, New Jersey.

Lowitz also had his father’s talent for music. The New York Telegraph, October 2, 1904, published this item:

J. B. Lowitz. the artist who is responsible for the “Swifty” pictures in the Sunday illustrated supplements, has turned to song writing as a pastime. He has just written “My Little Java Lady” to the words of Ed Rose. F.A. Mills is publishing the song and the vaudeville artists are reaching for it.

The Sunday Telegraph, November 26, 1905, said: “Reports from St. Louis speak highly of May Irwin’s success with John B. Lowitz’s tuneful coon song, “Don’t Argify.’”

New York Clipper 4/21/1906

New York Clipper 12/29/1906

New York Clipper 3/16/1908

Gazoozaland has images of sheet music and many other songs by Lowitz; click the tab, Swifty Music.

In 1910, Lowitz was a stocks and bonds broker. His residence was in Manhattan, New York City.

On September 12, 1918, Lowitz signed his World War I draft card. His home address was 1131 President Street, Brooklyn, New York. Lowitz was a banking stockteller at Carlisle, Millick & Co., 43 Exchange Place, New York City. Lowitz was described as tall and slender with gray eyes and grayish hair.

A 1920 New York city directory listed him as a broker. Lowitz has not been found in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 censuses.

Gazoozaland said, “The Lowitz’s moved to Connecticut in the late 1920’s and later created the well-known ‘Green Kettle Inn’ in Wapping, Ct, on the old Boston Post Road.” The couple spent their winters in Florida.

According to Lambiek Comiclopedia, Lowitz passed away February 13, 1941. No source was cited. It must be noted that Lowitz’s older brother, Robert, passed away in St. Petersburg, Florida on February 17, 1941, according to an obituary in the Daily Argus, February 18, 1941. Lowitz was not named as a survivor.

—Alex Jay

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