Category Archives: Lettering/Fonts

IRA SCHNAPP: His Life, Work and Family, Part 6

SchnappShowFlyerImage © Arlen Schumer and DC Comics

During my phone conversations with Ira Schnapp’s son Marty and his wife Pam, I told them about the Ira Schnapp exhibit by Arlen Schumer then running at the Type Director’s Club, and they wanted to see it. So did I, and I suggested we go together. Unfortunately, we all had busy schedules, and by the time we arranged for the trip, it turned out to be on the very last day of the show, Monday, Sept. 21st, 2015. I had spent time with Marty the day before at his apartment, where he and I had another long talk, and looked at the few photos of Ira and his family he’d found. Pam is recovering from an injured shoulder, and was unable to join us, but Marty and I planned to meet at the show at 10 AM, and would be joined there by my research partner Alex Jay, the exhibit creator Alex Schumer, and as it turned out, a few of Arlen’s friends. Continue reading

IRA SCHNAPP: His Life, Work and Family, Part 5

IraSchnappAtWorkBlogIra Schnapp at work in the National Comics production room some time between 1954 and 1960, photo courtesy of Martin Schnapp

While Ira Schnapp was on staff at National Comics, now known as DC Comics, and probably at home as well, he produced a vast amount of lettering and design work, while remaining unknown to the comics fans he was entertaining. Ira was a modest man, and this probably suited him fine. He worked very hard and made a good living, being  able to support his wife and himself while sending his children Terry and Marty to college. Whether he was paid by the page and piece, or if he was instead on a salary is not known. Continue reading

IRA SCHNAPP: His Life, Work and Family, Part 4

NicholsonDonenfeldLiebowitzMajor Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz, photo at left © FInn Andreen

In January of 1935, the first issue of NEW FUN: THE BIG COMIC MAGAZINE, published by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, blazed a trail by becoming the first comic book to contain new material. Previous efforts had simply reprinted newspaper comic strips. Nicholson was a former military man and world adventurer turned pulp writer, and he had good ideas, but was not a savvy businessman. After launching two titles with mixed success, he wanted to add a third, but needed funding. He turned to pulp publisher Harry Donenfeld who agreed to lend him the money for the launch of DETECTIVE COMICS, but only under a new imprint co-owned by Donenfeld’s partner Jack Liebowitz. Continue reading

IRA SCHNAPP: His Life, Work and Family, Part 3

ShowcardArtistVA1926Unknown show card artist in his studio, Virginia, 1926

By the early 1930s, Ira Schnapp was making a living as a freelance letterer and designer, doing show card lettering, as seen above, for movie theaters and probably other clients. There was actually lots of work then for a person skilled in lettering. “Show card” lettering, or large display lettering done on card stock, was used in many businesses from the front windows (“show” windows) to shelves and displays inside. Clothing retailers, grocery stores, every kind of shop used such signs. Much of the advertising seen in magazines and on posters and billboards also used show card lettering. Continue reading

IRA SCHNAPP: His Life, Work and Family, Part 2

IraSchnappbyAdlerIra Schnapp by Jack Adler, 1960s

1915 census BlogWe left the family of Max Schnapp, Ira Schnapp’s father, in 1910 in Part 1 of this series, which you can find HERE. New York State did their next census in 1915, and some things have changed by then. The family now lived at 483 West 170th Street in the Bronx, much closer to Moses’ school. (There is a 1960s housing development, The Morris Houses, at that address today.) Jacob is now Jack, Samuel is Sam, Joseph is Joe, and Moses is Murry, so in at least some cases more informal names were recorded. Minnie makes the family roll call this time. Israel (Ira) is still listed under that name, and his age is given as 21. He has an occupation listed: Salesman. Max’s job is Grocery, Sadie’s is Housework, Jack is Grocery, Sam is Salesman. Joe is listed as at school, perhaps college or some further training at age 23. Murry and the girls are all at school. The family has a different servant again, Carrie Kessy (I think), age 20 from Bohemia. A note about that: Max’s family was far from wealthy, but in those days, without the modern appliances we take for granted, housework for a family was a huge task, and immigrant women were willing to take housework jobs in homes in exchange for room and board and modest wages. Continue reading