All images © DC Comics

The final new DC title of the 1940s was this one, launched with a Nov/Dec 1949 cover date. It was headlined by friends/adversaries Peter and Wolfie, no doubt inspired by Disney’s “Three Little Pigs.” The book was edited by Larry Nadle and ran to issue #62 dated Oct-Nov 1960. I don’t know who designed the logo, it could have been Ira Schnapp, though he didn’t often use letters as rounded as this. It might also have been the unknown letterer I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp because I think his work was the model for Ira’s own lettering. The sign on this cover could have been by either of them, but I’m giving the nod to Proto-Schnapp because of the wide letters in the last two lines.

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And Then I Read: THE ISLANDS OF THE BLESSED by Nancy Farmer

I read this book some time ago and apparently forgot to review it. It’s the third book of a trilogy, the first two are reviewed here:

The Sea of Trolls

The Land of Silver Apples

The Saxon boy Jack lives in a small town on the coast of England around the year 800 A.D. He has been drawn into perilous magic adventures first through an old magician named The Bard, then with his friend the Viking shield-maiden Thorgil. Jack is at the center of three belief systems: Christianity, Norse mythology and Celtic mythology, all of which seem to be in contention for the hearts and minds of the people around him, and the latter two are embodied in very real beings and places he’s visited.

This third book begins when a storm destroys Jack’s small town, and he must go on a quest to set things right with Thorgil and The Bard. It’s an adventure full of danger and unusual characters, including mermaids, hobgoblins, sea hags, and Norse gods, and takes them to the magic land of the title. I know I enjoyed this book just as much as the first two, though I no longer remember many of the details, but all three are full of well-researched lore and legends, impressively creative magic, wonderful characters, and exciting plots.


Ira Schnapp in SECRET HEARTS

This and all images © DC Comics

DC’s second romance title followed quickly on the first, GIRL’S LOVE STORIES, beginning the following month and dated Sept/Oct 1949. Once again I believe Ira Schnapp created the elegant logo. He’s the only designer at DC who I think could have pulled off this appealing style with well-structured curved forms having open areas for color, but very readable. He probably also lettered “In this issue” and did the ornaments around DREAM MODEL, though the story titles are type. As with their other romance book, DC at first used stock photos on the covers to distance it from typical comic books and hopefully attract new female readers. Both titles did well, so it must have worked. While editing credits are not certain, this one probably had the same roster of uncredited editors: Robert Kanigher, Zena Brody, Phyllis Reed, Jack Miller, Barbara Friedlander, and by the end of its run in 1971 Dick Giordano and Dorothy Woolfolk. Once again I was astounded to discover the huge amount of work Ira Schnapp did for the title, as you’ll see.

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Collecting the miniseries I lettered last year, this hardcover is part of Joe Hill’s “Hill House” imprint at DC, now folded into their Black Label division. Yes, it’s horror, and has some scary parts, but it’s also well written and well-drawn historical and fantasy subject matter from writer Mike Carey and artists Peter Gross and Vince Locke. I’ve enjoyed working with Mike and Peter in the past on projects like THE UNWRITTEN. This is just as good. When is a dollhouse not a dollhouse? Read this to find out. Retail price is $24.99.

DC is also reprinting FABLES, one of the longest and best series I lettered in the 2000s and 2010s. Imagine all the fairy tale and fables characters you remember from childhood hiding out in New York City and New York State (mostly) trying to avoid evil forces who have caused them to flee from their homelands. These are refugees with power, but they must also remain in hiding, so their power must be used sparingly. Great stuff from writer Bill Willingham and main artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha with help from many others like Lan Medina and cover artist James Jean, though it’s nice to see a new cover on this book by Mark Buckingham. The previous collection of the series in the FABLES DELUXE EDITION hardcovers (15 volumes at $30 each retail) remains the best and most lasting version. This paperback is almost 1,200 pages and two inches thick. It collects issues 1-41 and three longer stand-alone stories: The Last Castle, A Wolf in the Fold and 1,001 Nights of Snowfall. The reproduction and paper quality are excellent. The glued binding is not likely to hold up well over time, but the price of $59.99 for all that great reading makes it a bargain all the same. I’m guessing there will be two more volumes.

Both books are due out in October. Amazon links below, or check with your comics retailer.


Girls' Love Stories 1 cover

Like most comics publishers of the 1940s, National (DC) Comics kept an eye on what others were having success with. The genre of romance comics began at Prize with Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s YOUNG ROMANCE in 1947. It did quite well, and in 1949, DC entered the fray with this title. It had a long run of 180 issues, and a number of uncredited editors steered it through the 1950s and early 1960s including Robert Kanigher, Zena Brody and Phyllis Reed. Later in the 1960s it was briefly under Larry Nadle, then edited by Jack Miller, Barbara Friedlander and Joe Orlando in the late 60s. Ira Schnapp designed this elegant logo using much thinner forms than was usual for him. Perhaps he was instructed to imitate slick women’s magazines of the time. Comics printing on covers was always better than interiors, and the logo worked fine. The other copy was typeset on some early issues, again trying to look more adult and less like a comic book.

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