Category Archives: Creating Comics

Early Ira Schnapp DC House Ads

Batman053IFCHA_7-1949All images © DC Comics.

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


AFC1CoverALL-FUNNY COMICS #1, Winter 1943. This and all images © DC Comics.

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

Ira Schnapp story lettering, a sampler

Action106_03Images © DC Comics.

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.

Batman041-01BAMAN #41 cover dated June-July 1947 has Ira Schnapp lettering in the caption, as well as the signs.


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.

DwJ0204While 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.

AFC14037Schnapp 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.

AnAn1103One 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.


DannyCrespi1982byEliotRBrownDanny Crespi, 1982, photo © Elliot R. Brown.

This time I’m covering pages 25 to 28 of the collection of Marvel cover lettering from about 1974 to 1978—mostly by Danny Crespi—compiled by fellow letterer Phil Felix. I never met Danny but have an ever-growing respect and appreciation for his work seen in these photocopies of his hand-lettered cover titles and balloons. Continue reading

Remembering Murphy Anderson


Photo: Fred R. Conrad, The New York Times, 2007

I wrote a remembrance of Murphy Anderson for the 2016 San Diego Comic Con program book this spring, and thought I’d run it here as well. Murphy died on Oct. 22nd, 2015. A similar remembrance I wrote then is HERE.

Murphy Anderson was one of the first comics artists whose name I learned. He and writer John Broome were, unusually for the time, credited for their stories about The Atomic Knights in STRANGE ADVENTURES from DC Comics beginning in 1960, a series I loved. I soon began seeing Murphy’s style on other DC Comics like HAWKMAN and THE SPECTRE, and when creator credits became common at the company, I saw him often paired as an inker with penciler Curt Swan on SUPERMAN, a team that used the combined signature “Swanderson” on their covers. When I began working on staff at DC in 1977, I soon met Murphy, who was in the office a lot, either delivering comics art he’d worked on or color separations from his comics production company Visual Concepts. We talked often and became friends, and when Murphy learned we lived not far apart, I was enlisted to carry work for him on my commute to and from the DC offices from time to time. When Murphy was visiting DC and leaving when I normally did, he’d give me a ride home in his big Lincoln, and we’d have a great time talking about comics, and his career. I heard about Murphy’s early love for Buck Rogers, and his decision to come to New York in the mid 1940s to try to break into comics. He succeeded at Fiction House first, later working for other companies, including DC beginning in the early 1950s. Murphy’s style was grounded in a firm knowledge of anatomy, and his heroes were real people with just a little extra something. His inking style used skillful feathering techniques to bring three dimensions to the comics page, and his compositions were always strong, even when the subject matter was fanciful, as in the many STRANGE ADVENTURES and MYSTERY IN SPACE covers editor Julie Schwartz had him create, often as a springboard for stories. Above all, I remember Murphy’s kindness and enthusiasm for the comics medium and those involved in it. His deep voice and slight southern drawl, his stories about creators and editors, and his unfailing gentlemanly manners made a strong impression on me. Sometimes the people you admire as a child turn out to be less than you hoped for when you meet them as an adult. In Murphy’s case, it was the opposite. He was more than a fine comics artist, he was a kind and honorable man, and a good friend to myself and many others. I miss him.