Ira Schnapp in COMIC CAVALCADE

Comic Cavalcade 1 cover
This and all images © DC Comics.

All-American Comics, a sister company to DC Comics in the early 1940s because of some shared owners, had success with their superheroes Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Flash. In addition to one or more titles where they appeared solo, they teamed up in ALL-STAR COMICS and this title, COMIC CAVALCADE, though they actually appeared together mostly on the cover, the stories inside were usually unrelated to each other. When All-American and DC (National) merged in 1946, All-American editor-in-chief Sheldon Mayer continued to manage his titles for a while, but they were gradually integrated into the DC line. Some long-time DC editors like Julius Schwartz began at All-American. Mayer moved on to full-time freelance work for the company as an artist and writer/artist, and he did that the rest of his life. COMIC CAVALCADE #1 was dated Winter 1942. Ira Schnapp did no work for the All-American line until after the merge in 1946.

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And Then I Read: THE DRAGON TREE by Jane Langton

The eighth and final book in the Hall Family series was published in 2008, but I missed it until recently. The Halls live on Walden Street in Concord, Massachusetts. Professor Frederick Hall spends much of his time writing a book about his idol Henry Thoreau. His wife, Professor Alexandra Hall cares for him and their children. Eleanor, the oldest, is away studying in Paris, but the younger children Edward and his sister Georgie are still at home and bear witness to the latest magical event the house and family are famous for.

A new neighbor, Mr. Moon, has moved in next door, and he loves to cut down trees, not only on his own property, but he’s working for the town and convincing them many of their trees must go. As if in response, a magical tree, the Dragon Tree, sprouts on the property line between the Halls and the Moons. It grows with surprising and magical quickness, and soon the Halls must keep a careful watch over it to prevent Mr. Moon from cutting it down. They build a tree house to help with that. Mrs. Moon is always ready to help her husband, but their niece Emerald, who works as a servant for the Moons, finds herself strangely attracted to the Halls and their tree, which soon gets her into trouble with the Moons.

This is a fun and quick read, it moves along at almost as fast a pace as the tree grows. For once the magic seems to come from the ground itself rather than some enchanted object, and the Hall family are as charming as ever, while the Moons are as villainous as every Langton villain. Langton died in 2018, so there will be no more of the series. Someday I will reread the earlier ones, but this book stands on its own perfectly well.

Recommended.

More about Jane Langton.

Ira Schnapp in ANIMAL ANTICS & FUNNY FOLKS

This and all images © DC Comics

Working my way through DC titles of the 1940s looking for lettering work by Ira Schnapp, this title ran for 23 issues from March/April 1946 to Nov/Dec 1949. Then the title changed to MOVETOWN’S ANIMAL ANTICS, which I’ll cover later. It was edited by Bernie Breslauer initially, and later by Larry Nadle. While searching for Ira’s work, I’m finding lots more by the unknown letterer I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp because I think he was an older man working on staff at DC as a letterer and that Ira used his work as a model for his own. Some of the familiar display lettering styles that Ira adopted came from Proto-Schnapp, but Proto had others that Ira didn’t use. This first cover for the series has good examples: the bouncy, curly top line lettering, the style of upper and lower case used for “featuring,” and the very lively and appealing open letters for “Presto Pete.” I’m now thinking this logo is also by Proto-Schnapp as he liked rounded, bouncy letters more than Ira. Much of the cover and interior lettering in this title, nearly all of it, is by Proto-Schnapp too.

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And Then I Read: EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF TERROR Season 2 #6

EA Poe's Snifter of Terror Season 2 #6 cover
Image © Ahoy Comics

This humorous horror anthology has been a hoot through 12 issues. This time the first main story is by Carol Lay, a fine cartoonist with a long history in comics. Her take on Poe’s Purloined Letter is unusual and funny, and her treatment of Poe himself as the story host is possibly the best one yet.

For variety, the Robert Louis Stevenson’s story about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is adapted by Paul Cornell and Steve Yeowell. I don’t know if adapted is quite the right word. Perhaps “referenced in amusing ways” would be closer. The story is a funny look at British vs. Scottish customs and language.

Wrapping up the visuals is another brilliant episode of Poe Vs. the Black Cat by Hunt Emerson, this time four pages, making for an explosive finale reminiscent of the Mad feature Spy Vs. Spy.

Recommended, as is the entire series.

Rereading: HENRY REED’S BIG SHOW by Keith Robertson

The fourth book in the Henry Reed series was first published in 1970. Henry is making his third visit to Grover’s Corner, New Jersey for the summer, staying with his aunt and uncle and renewing his friendship with business partner Midge Glass. Henry and Midge are again looking for a way to make money, and Henry suggests they put on some kind of show outside the barn and on the property he owns. Before that can be worked out, the star character arrives, a smart and eccentric horse named Galileo. He’s been gifted to Midge, who has become horse-crazed, and Henry agrees to let her keep the horse on his property. They build a corral fence to contain him and set up a stall at the back of the barn. Galileo soon proves to be as much an inventor as his namesake. He keeps inventing ways to get out of the fence, and much time is spent catching him. Galileo also proves to be fun to ride for Midge, and when Henry buys an old carriage at an auction, he’s also good at pulling it. Before long, the three of them are in a protest parade in Princeton where Galileo gets lots of attention.

When a struggling rock band’s car and caravan trailer breaks down in front of Henry’s barn and Henry agrees to let them stay in his yard while the car is fixed, the band agrees to perform as thanks, and their loud music soon draws a crowd. It’s Henry’s first big show, though not one he planned. Artist Robert McCloskey’s funny and wonderful art is a large part of the appeal of these books, and I can’t resist showing his visualization of the band. It’s a spread, but here it is in two parts to show it better.

As you can see, a state trooper has been called to the scene by irate neighbors, but things are worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.

Henry tries to put on a play, but that doesn’t go well, and then he has a better idea: a rodeo. Lots of kids in the area have horses, and everyone loves the idea, except some of their parents. The rodeo is fun and funny, like this entire book, and cheerful chaos continues to follow Henry and Midge through it. Keith Robertson knew horses well, he wrote a number of books in which kids and horses star, and this is one of the best.

Recommended.

My reviews of the previous books:

Henry Reed, Inc.

Henry Reed’s Journey

Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service