Continuing my Ira Schnapp detective work, I decided to look through some of the late 1940s – early 1950s DC Comics issues I have digital files of searching for early Ira Schnapp house ads. Most of the ones I found, and all the ones I’m including here, were on either the inside front cover or inside back cover, printed in black and white, sometimes with added gray tones. That’s ideal for looking at the lettering. Above is the earliest ad I found by Ira, from BATMAN #53 dated July 1949. Most DC house ads from the time were template ads, meaning the were somewhat generic and could be reused over months or years by simply replacing the cover or covers of the comics. This one is specific to SUPERBOY #2, and probably only published at or around this particular month. That became the standard later, but is unusual for this time. Lots of great Schnapp lettering here, including his Superman and Superboy logos, several styles of large display lettering, and giant exclamation marks. What reader could help being intrigued? Not me. Continue reading
For some time I’ve been trying to figure out which DC comics from the 1940s were lettered by Ira Schnapp. I have no trouble with stories appearing from 1947 on because Schnapp’s style remained the same from then until the end of his career, but before 1947 that style is not yet settled, making identifying his work harder. In this article I’m going to examine the entire run of ALL FUNNY COMICS looking for Ira’s work. ALL FUNNY was a National Comics (now DC Comics) anthology about funny people (rather than funny animals) that ran for 23 quarterly or bimonthly issues from Winter 1943-44 to May-June 1948. There was never a lead or headline feature, it was a true anthology. Some features ran for many issues, some for just a few, with most stories ranging from four to ten pages plus some one or two page fillers, text pages and ads. The first issue was 60 pages, the rest were 52, but even with ads, that meant quite a few features and stories in each issue. Some features played up the humor, others were closer to adventure stories. Continue reading
My focus is turned to lettering legend Ira Schnapp again today. One area of his career I want to know more about and have been researching is his lettering on story pages for DC Comics (then National Comics) in the 1940s. I have access to scans of many of the comics from that decade, but determining which stories were lettered by Ira is difficult. By 1947, his style is easy for me to pick out, it’s essentially the same one he used throughout the rest of his career. Before 1947, I suspect his style was not yet settled, and he may have gone through different versions of it. That makes finding his work much harder and probably more subjective. I hope to eventually come to firmer conclusions, but in the meantime, here are some examples of Ira’s story lettering from the late 1940s. Above is the lead story from ACTION COMICS #106, cover dated March 1947. The title of the story is in a style Schnapp used occasionally on covers, and the very square and regular lettering is his.
Page 3 from that story has more typical Schnapp lettering styles. Notice the balloons with large scalloped edges, and one that extends over the panel above. Schnapp’s story lettering is not as carefully crafted as his cover lettering balloons (which were also done larger), but the letters are similar. Like most letterers, his S is distinctive, in this case very rounded with a tendency to get straighter across the middle horizontal stroke, and often with the top and bottom end points shorter than the center stroke.
While Ira lettered a good number of super-hero stories, I’ve found many more humor stories by him, such as this one from A DATE WITH JUDY #2 cover dated Dec. 1947 – Jan. 1948. Here the story calls for some larger lettering that is even more like Ira’s cover lettering. The balloon shapes are distinctively his, as are the overlaps to the panels above. Ira’s question mark was always small and tight like a tiny backwards S over a dot.
Schnapp lettered hundreds of short humor and funny animal stories like this one from ALL-FUNNY COMICS #14 cover dated Nov.-Dec. 1946. The style is very similar to the other examples above, but note that in this earlier example some letters look a little different, particularly the R, which in some places has a long curved right leg. This is the sort of clue I need to follow back to earlier examples.
One more funny animal example from ANIMAL ANTICS #11 cover dated Nov.-Dec. 1947. In this case the feature title, “The Raccoon Kids” also looks like Ira Schnapp’s work to me. This sort of research is very time consuming, but I try to keep at it when I can. Hopefully I will be able to report more fully in the future.
I’ve had this very long book for a very long time (not the edition shown, the first edition from 1990, couldn’t find a good image of that cover). One of those books that kept migrating to the bottom of my reading pile until I had time for it, and I finally did.
Kay creates an entire new fantasy world for this book, unconnected to his other books. It takes place in a large peninsula containing nine provinces that is reminiscent of medieval Italy. To the south over high mountains is a separate kingdom, and two others are east and west by sea, with a fourth by sea to the north. The Peninsula of the Palm, where the story takes place, is the site of a decades-long power struggle between two invading magicians, one from the eastern and one from the western kingdoms over the sea. Each of these men holds about half of the provinces with a single province still in dispute between them. The people native to this land are conquered people, but since the main wars of conquest are decades ago now, they have resumed much of the life they had before, with one exception. The province now called Lower Corte was the last to fall to the conquering King Brandin, and in the battle for it, Brandin’s son was slain. Brandin was so wounded and enraged by this that he used his troops to destroy every city in the province, and his magic to make even the original name of the province, Tigana, something that men from elsewhere cannot hear or say. The book is about some of the displaced and persecuted people of the former Tigana who have long plotted to regain their name and their freedom from both magicians. This complex plan has taken decades to bear fruit, and finally the time seems right.
Two main story lines focus on individuals caught in this mesh of intrigue and rebellion. Devin, a young singer trying to make a career with a troop of traveling players, and a new group he joins that are the leaders of the secret rebellion, and are soon traveling through the Palm gathering support while dodging enemies. Meanwhile, in the court of King Brandin, the beautiful courtesan Dianora struggles with her own divided feelings. Secretly a daughter of Tigana, she came to Brandin hoping to find a way to kill him, but instead has fallen in love with the magician king.
I enjoyed this book, though it moves slowly, at times too slowly. The first 150 pages of this 673 page novel take place in a single day, for instance. There is much to appreciate and enjoy; fine characters, an intricate plot, wise understanding of human nature, and just enough magic to make it a fantasy, but magic that always has a high cost. I do think it could have been told more succinctly. Kay’s next novel, “A Song for Arbonne” did something similar with less words and a better result. Still, this book is well worth reading.
Image © DC Comics.
I’m on the fence about this one. There’s nothing I dislike about it, but it’s a rehash of Flash’s origin yet again (seems like about the sixth time in the last few years) with some changes that pull in elements from the TV show like the “Jitters” coffee shop, but many other elements are not like the show. We have some new characters in the Central City police force that seem promising, so I’ll stick with it for a while. Much of this issue feels kind of like the dress rehearsal of a play I’ve seen too many times. The art by Carmine Di Giandomenico has a loose design-ish feel that suggests advertising storyboards to me. I like the style and the design both, but at times, particularly in small figures, it loses focus. Okay, let’s see where it goes.