My friend and fellow comics historian Alex Jay has been looking through trademark listings online, and on August 2, he emailed me this image, writing: I found something that may interest you. National Comics Publications (DC Comics) filed a trademark application for “A Comicraft Card”. A notice was published in the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, June 5, 1951. I thought the entry was interesting not only because I’d never heard of or seen any National (DC) Comics greeting cards from that era, and also because the image looks like hand-lettering by Ira Schnapp.
Alex searched further online, and found just one example of such a card. It was for sale on eBay, and he bought it. When it arrived, he scanned the entire thing and sent me the scans so I could write this article. Above is the front of the card, which is actually a small comic booklet meant to act as a get-well card for a child. It measures 6 and 5/8 by 5 inches, and it’s self-covered, meaning it’s all printed on the same paper, which Alex describes as newsprint, but a little thicker than typical comics paper. It’s center-stapled twice on the left side of the cover, and there are 16 pages in the booklet. It’s printed in three process colors: magenta, cyan (blue) and yellow, no black. The appearance of black comes from combining blue and yellow to get a very dark green, or in other places all three colors to get a dark brown. This might have saved some money on separations, and possibly also on printing if DC had access to a three-color press. (DC’s co-owner Harry Donenfeld first entered publishing with a printing company started by his brothers, so it’s possible there was still a family printing business in operation.) The art is typical funny animal work of the kind DC was publishing in titles like ANIMAL ANTICS, and is probably by one of their artists for that, perhaps Rube Grossman or Howard Post, but I’m no expert on identifying artists for such work. The lettering on the cover appears to be by Ira Schnapp, though he didn’t letter the story inside. The cover lettering is generic, so it could have been used on other cards, perhaps with other art. The animals on the cover are hard to identify, but the one with the stethoscope is a pretty close match to the bear child inside, so I guess it’s two bears, though the one in bed is not in the story, and I guess simply represents the child getting the card.
The back of the cover has only a small copyright notice in blue: COPYRIGHT 1950, NATIONAL COMICS PUBLICATIONS, INC., and a blue ink inscription from the giver of the card, which I think says “Love Mary Anne & Deb.”
The story begins on the next page, and there are small page numbers at the lower corners of each story page. The main character is a father bear wearing a bow tie and vest. He’s not named, but his son Bobbie is. You can better see how the three colors of ink work here, all the line work and lettering is solid blue (cyan) and tints of cyan, magenta and yellow are used creatively to give the impression of a full color palette. The lettering uses a thick and thin style made with a wedge-tipped pen, and is condensed horizontally, definitely not by Schnapp, but I don’t know who did it. The character looks a little like DC’s Biggety Bear:
A little, but not really that much, other than the fact that they share a funny animal style. There were a few other bears in DC comics, but none of them really match the one in the card.
Unlike Biggety, this bear and his son live in a human-style house, and the father has human tools.
The value of money in 1950 is a sub-plot in this story. I wonder what the card cost?
As is often the case, the son has a good handle on how to get what he wants from his dad.
Thus ends the story, but there’s one more page, a sort of afterword:
This ties the somewhat unrelated story to the get-well aspect of the card as seen on the cover.
The back of the card has only some small blue type: A COMICRAFT CARD, “THE GREETING CARD WITH THE PICTURE STORY,” T-2002, MADE IN U.S.A., REG. U.S. PAT. OFF.
The card was preserved by being pasted into a scrapbook, as explained by the seller, and you can see where paper from the scrapbook remains attached. In the text we have the advertising slogan, and the number might suggest this was card number 2, with 200 added in front to make it seem like there were lots more, but that’s a guess. It was printed in the U.S., which is not surprising, and the patent registration is listed. Note that the hand-lettered version of the card name was not used.
I find the card charming, and I would have loved to get one as a child myself. Perhaps there are other examples that have survived, but this is the only one I’ve ever seen. It seems likely it was not profitable for DC, or there would have been more survivors. Alex Jay found an entry in the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office for 1957 stating that the trademark registration was canceled. I bet Richard Starkings and John Roshell, founders of a certain comic book fonts company, are glad that the rights to the name COMICRAFT were not retained by DC! Thanks to Alex Jay for sending me the images and allowing me to write about them.