Ira Schnapp in REX THE WONDER DOG

Images © DC Comics

Starting in 1952, DC Comics launched this title about a reasonably realistic white German shepherd who acted heroically, often with his master Danny, in many locations and situations from the American west to Europe and elsewhere. Rex was smarter and stronger than average dogs. He was perhaps inspired by the real dog Rin-Tin-Tin who was rescued from a World War One battlefield and starred in a series of successful films from 1922 to 1931, or by films about Lassie, an equally heroic Scottish collie created in the book Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight in 1940, and in a popular film of the same name in 1943 and sequels. Rex’s predecessor at DC, though, was Streak the Wonder Dog.

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Ira Schnapp in THE FOX AND THE CROW

Images © DC Comics

The Fox and the Crow were cartoon characters from Screen Gems originally based on the Aesop characters, but developed in a much more modern way for most of their cartoons, with streetwise, Brooklyn-accented, cigar-smoking Crawford Crow pitted against upper-crust but gullible Fauntleroy Fox in an eternal battle for laughs where the Crow won most often. They began appearing in REAL SCREEN COMICS from DC in 1945 and COMIC CAVALCADE in 1948. Their own title began with a Dec 1951/Jan 1952 cover date and ran for 108 issues, though from issue #95 on the title was gradually taken over by a new feature, “Stanley and His Monster,” and that became the title for issues 109-112. The book was edited by Larry Nadle for years, then taken over by Murray Boltinoff with #86.

Ira Schnapp might have created this logo, or it might have been done by artist and animator James Davis (not the creator of “Garfield”) who certainly did the characters in the logo. I’m leaning toward Davis because the script words in the logo are not in Ira’s style. The word balloon and caption are probably by Ira. He lettered many of the covers, though a fair amount had no lettering, or just repeated lettering. Inside, Ira lettered lots of stories, about half of them I think, until the book was usurped by Stanley and His Monster.

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Rereading: MOOMINSUMMER MADNESS by Tove Jansson

Art by Tove Jansson, image © her estate.

I’m rereading the Moomin books by Jansson in the order of publication. Last time I covered Moominpappa’s Memoirs from 1950. The next one was a picture book for younger readers, which I’ve already reviewed, The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My, a cleverly made story from 1952 with cutouts on each page that change the narrative as you turn the pages. The next full-length novel is this one from 1954.

A volcano near Moomin Valley erupts, causing an earthquake and a tidal wave that floods the valley, and soon the Moomins and their friends are forced up to the roof of their house. As they watch the world float by and exchange greetings with strangers floating on an uprooted tree, a large structure they don’t recognize floats up to their roof. It’s actually an outdoor theater shell, but they don’t realize that for some time. As the waters continue to rise, the Moomins decide to climb aboard the structure and take their chances in it. Behind the front curtains are all kinds of puzzling things: scenery, props, and a person who stays hidden but plays tricks on them. When the theatre rests against a tall tree, Moomin and the Snork Maiden decide to move into it with their new friend Misabel, but the theater floats away again in the night, leaving them stranded. The tree is close to other trees, and the three find their way from one to another to land, but there’s no sign of the theater.

Many more adventures follow, as Moomintroll and his friends get arrested, and once the theater is stranded on shore, a play is put on for the whole valley, who arrive in boats.

This is a charming book, like the others, and full of fine, funny characters and entertaining events. Tove’s drawings are excellent, too, as always.

Recommended.

Ira Schnapp in FLIPPITY AND FLOP

Images © DC Comics

Unlike many DC Comics funny animal characters, Flippity the canary, Flop the cat and Sam the family dog did appear in four cartoons from Screen Gems, though they were never as popular or as well-known as Tweety and Sylvester from Warner Bros, or even The Fox and The Crow, also from Screen Gems. Their comic began with a Dec 1951/Jan 1952 cover date and ran to 47 issues, ending in 1960. The characters had already appeared in other DC anthologies. The comic was edited by Larry Nadle. Each issue had several stories featuring the team and usually one starring two mice, Twiddle and Twaddle. Most, or perhaps all, were drawn by west coast animator Jim Davis, not the same man who created Garfield.

Ira Schnapp was the main story letterer for this book, handling about two thirds of the page lettering. He also lettered some covers, but many had no lettering. It’s possible Ira designed the logo, but he did not do the rest of the cover lettering on this first cover. I suspect the logo and lettering might have been done by artist Jim Davis, but that’s just a guess. the blurb in a circle appeared on many later covers.

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Ira Schnapp in HOUSE OF MYSTERY

Images © DC Comics

Horror comics were a popular category in the early 1950s, and DC decided to try it with this title launched with a December 1951/January 1952 cover date. DC’s horror books (which they preferred to call mystery comics) were always a lot tamer than similar offerings from other publishers, but they did include stories about ghosts and traditional monsters like the werewolf on this first cover that attempted to be frightening. The editor of record in 1950s issues was Whitney Ellsworth, like all DC titles, but it was probably edited by Jack Schiff with his team of George Kashdan and Murray Boltinoff, and it must have sold well, as it went monthly with issue #5 and remained a monthly until 1963, about 130 issues. Later issues were edited by Kashdan alone, and in 1968 editing was taken over by Joe Orlando, but after Ira Schnapp’s participation ended, so I won’t cover that here.

Ira Schnapp designed the cover logo. It’s rather bland and has nothing scary about it, an interesting choice. That may have been Ira’s choice, or the editor’s, but I find Ira’s scary lettering about the least effective thing he did, so perhaps it’s just as well. Certainly the logo is easy to read and in the DC house style of other Ira Schnapp logos, setting it apart from the horror comics of competitors. Ira also lettered this and most of the series covers until 1967. Again, he rarely attempted to be scary, but his work was easy to read, and perhaps the familiar style made it an easier sell. Most of Schnapp’s lettering on this title was on covers, though he did do occasional stories until 1964.

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