IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS 1952-1953

All images © DC Comics. From THE ADVENTURES OF REX THE WONDER DOG #1, Jan-Feb 1952

When National (DC) Comics and All-American Comics merged around 1946, that brought in a raft of All-American titles with logos Ira Schnapp did not do, but over the next few years some of those were cancelled and others were renamed because of a genre change. A few of DC’s long-running titles had logos created before Ira began working at the company like ACTION COMICS and DETECTIVE COMICS, but all the new titles of the late 1940s and 1950s were designed by Schnapp. Above is the first new one for books with 1952 cover-dates. I think it’s one of Ira’s best. The short word REX gets the most space and attention, but the tagline THE WONDER DOG is equally appealing. THE ADVENTURES OF is again pulled from a previous title, THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET. If Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie could attract movie viewers, why not a comic about a dog? It did pretty well.

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IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS 1950-1951

All images © DC Comics. From THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE #1, Feb-March 1950

After several failed attempts, DC finally found a Hollywood star that could succeed in a comic book, and this new title lasted for 18 years. It had several Schnapp logos during that time. This first one reuses THE ADVENTURES OF from Ozzie and Harriet’s logo, but the rest is new. BOB HOPE is full of energy and quirky humor that I think is a perfect match for the subject. That very small first O is unusual for Ira, and I love it. The bottom tagline is close to the top line for balance.

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Ira Schnapp and the DC-Columbia Movie Serials

Images related to DC Comics characters are © DC Comics. Promotional poster from the 1943 Batman serial.

From 1937 to 1956, Columbia Pictures produced 57 movie serials. Each serial was divided into chapters, and was meant to be shown one chapter per week as an added attraction to the main feature film shown that week. Nearly all of them ran 15 chapters, and each chapter had a running time of about 15 minutes. Subjects were drawn from all kinds of popular culture, fictional and historical properties, with sources including pulp magazines, comic strips and comic books. Despite a long running time, they were low-budget and well below feature films in quality, with actors who were not big stars. They were meant to appeal to kids and readers of the source material, hoping to keep them coming back into theaters even when they’d seen the feature already, or at least that’s my guess. Ten were based on characters now owned by DC Comics, but at the time of their release only six were actually licensed from National (DC) Comics. Here’s the list of those ten:

  • Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) (licensed from Fawcett)
  • Spy Smasher (1942) (licensed from Fawcett)
  • Batman (1943)
  • Hop Harrigan (1946) (licensed from All-American Comics, sister company of DC)
  • The Vigilante (1947)
  • Superman (1948)
  • Congo Bill (1948)
  • Batman and Robin (1949)
  • Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)
  • The Miraculous Blackhawk: Freedom’s Champion (1952) (licensed from Quality Comics)

For each serial, Columbia prepared a press book for theater owners. This offered them all kinds of material to promote the serial to theater owners, and also to theater patrons. In addition to reviews, actor photos and biographies, there were film posters of various sizes, banners, counter displays, lobby cards with photo stills from each chapter, and more, all of which could be ordered for a fee in lots from one to many. On the ones licensed from DC Comics, there were additional items prepared by them, usually a comics-style poster like the one above and a “Comic Strip Herald,” which was a single sheet 6 inches high by 18 inches wide, folded in half to create a four-page flyer. Often the front cover was the same as the poster, but sometimes they were different. Inside across both pages was a large comic strip something like a daily strip with five or six panels describing the serial and including actor and other film credits. I don’t know what was on the back cover. These items had comics art drawn by DC artists and most were lettered by Ira Schnapp.

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IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS: 1949

All images © DC Comics. From SUPERBOY #1, March-April 1949
Original logo from the DC files.

With this logo, I feel that Ira Schnapp had truly arrived at his role as the primary logo designer for National (DC) comics. Perhaps for legal reasons, it did not follow the style of Ira’s Superman logo but headed off in a new direction. The influence is Art Deco, the curve adds interest, and the drop shadow provides a three-dimensional aspect as the logo seems to float above the cover. It’s friendly and appealing, perfect for the character. From this time forward Schnapp would design logos for nearly all new titles at DC until he left the company in 1968, even as he set the style for the publisher through lettering nearly all the covers and house ads as well.

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IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS: 1948

From MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY #1, Jan-Feb 1948

Following quickly on GANG BUSTERS, DC launched a second crime comic in early 1948 again based on a popular radio show. This one had a recurring character, but he was never given any name other than the one used in this logo by Ira Schnapp. Like GANG BUSTERS, the logo is very Art Deco, and has similar letter shapes, though it leans to the right and has a drop shadow rather than a double border. The two logos are close enough to seem related, as they are, mainly by genre.

From WESTERN COMICS #1, Jan-Feb 1948

In the same month, DC jumped fully into westerns that were having success for other publishers, often with series featuring movie-star cowboys. COMICS is again picked up from previous DC logos not by Ira (but giving some of their titles a cohesive look), while WESTERN is rough and notched, I think an appropriately weathered approach.

Three feature logos from WESTERN COMICS #1, Jan-Feb 1948

While one feature, Vigilante, had a long history at DC, the others were new, and were given feature logos by Ira. Notice how different they are from each other. COWBOY uses rope to make letters, always tricky. RODEO RICK is in the style of wood, perhaps meant to suggest fence rails. WYOMING KID is not very western, but has an appealing open script style.

From WESTERN COMICS #1, Jan-Feb 1948

Vigilante’s logo had been in use since 1945 in ACTION COMICS, where the character had a number of different logos before that going back to 1941 and probably drawn by the artists. It could be by Schnapp, but I can’t be sure, so I’m not counting it for him.

From LEAVE IT TO BINKY #1, Feb-March 1948

Having had success with A DATE WITH JUDY, the company started this second teen humor title soon after. Unlike JUDY, it was not based on a radio show, but had similar story ideas drawn from family life and dating. Ira chose an upper and lower case treatment for BINKY, which relates to JUDY but gives it a different feel, while the top line is in bouncy capitals. I like the Y which is similar to the N turned upside down, and I also like the large circle atop the I. Ira seems to have learned that if he didn’t have a double outline or drop shadow to help the open letters stand out, their outlines should be thick. It’s kind of surprising the top line is solid black, and it’s a bit hard to read on the green background, but most covers on the series had simple art that allowed it to work well enough, and really BINKY was the important part.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #4, April-May 1948

With issue #4, A DATE WITH JUDY got a revised logo that made A DATE WITH much larger, but JUDY was also redrawn. I don’t like this version as well as the first one, but perhaps there was a legal reason to make this change, or it was requested by someone from the radio show.

From STAR SPANGLED COMICS #83, Aug 1948

This new feature began in STAR SPANGLED #83 with a fine Art Deco logo from Ira, who also lettered most of his stories. It’s not particularly nautical, but I like it.

From DALE EVANS COMICS #1, Sept-Oct 1948

DC launched a second western title soon after their first one, and this time they had a movie star in the lead, though one that was perhaps not as popular as her husband Roy Rogers, who had a comics line from another publisher. Dale’s title lasted a few years and had this simple but effective block letter logo from Ira on all of them, though often not stacked so vertically as on the first issue.

From DALE EVANS COMICS #1, Sept-Oct 1948

In addition to several stories in each issue featuring Dale, this backup series appeared in some issues with a feature logo by Schnapp. It’s not particularly appropriate to the genre, but does the job.

From WESTERN COMICS #5, Sept-Oct 1948

Over in WESTERN COMICS, this new feature began with a nice logo by Ira, one using his familiar upper and lower case THE. It has movement and style, and I like it.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #7, Oct-Nov 1948

Judy’s brother Randolph began getting solo stories in issue #7 with this logo by Schnapp.

From FUNNY FOLKS #16, Oct-Nov 1948

FUNNY FOLKS was another funny animal title that had begun at National’s sister company All-American Comics in 1946 right before the two merged, and the cover and features in it had little early work by Ira, but I think he did design the logo for this new feature that began in issue #16. It combines a humorous bounce with serif letters that sell the pun well.

From ANIMAL ANTICS #17, Nov-Dec 1948

Goofy Goose got a new logo by Schnapp in ANIMAL ANTICS #17 that includes character art by Rube Grossman, one of DC’s funny animal stalwarts.

From ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #103, Nov 1948

Toward the end of 1948, DC added another western title by converting ALL-AMERICAN COMICS to ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN with issue #103 dated November 1948 featuring a new logo by Schnapp. The word WESTERN is the important one, and Ira makes it stand out with a double outline. The top banner is not well matched or evenly filled, making me at first wonder if this logo was actually by Ira, but I think it is. The star at the left end of the banner helps some, but that vanished after this issue. Not one of Ira’s best, but certainly readable from a distance.

Four feature logos from ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #103, Nov 1948

Four new features filled the pages of the issue, all with logos by Schnapp. By this time Ira was hitting his stride as a feature logo designer, and these are full of great details. I like the musical note theme of Minstrel Maverick, though the notes are oddly shaped, and the black and yellow banner for Foley.

From ACTION COMICS #127, Dec 1948

A new science fiction series began in ACTION COMICS #127 with a feature logo by Schnapp. The character had been around for a few years, but not had a logo before. The strokes that extend beyond the corners is an interesting idea, though the overall look is more retro than futuristic. Ira would do a better one later.

From STAR SPANGLED COMICS #87, Dec 1948

Finally we have this feature logo from a character that few remember. Merry Pemberton was the sister of the original Star-Spangled Kid. She began appearing in his stories as this heroine, and eventually took his feature for herself for a while before the run ended. MERRY is very Art Deco, and I love the long tail on the Y. The banner is nicely done, too.

That’s 21 logos by Ira Schnapp in this year, almost as many as the two previous years. Plenty more to come. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.