Category Archives: Creating Comics

Ira Schnapp in SHOWCASE

Images © DC Comics

In 1956 DC Comics launched a new bimonthly title that was a tryout book for new series, characters and subjects. The original idea was for readers to write in with suggestions, and the editors would use the most popular ones. I don’t think that plan lasted more than a few issues if it was really followed at all. Here’s the idea as lettered by Ira Schnapp on the first page of the first issue:

However long this idea was used, the book soon became a tryout series for every DC editor’s new ideas, and each tryout had its own editor. Mort Weisinger was the editor of the first issue that actually might be based on reader suggestions. The series ran to 104 issues, ending in 1978.

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Ira Schnapp in TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

Images © DC Comics

In 1956, DC Comics added a new anthology to their line which drew ideas from science fiction, fantasy and horror (or as DC called it “mystery”). It was perhaps most similar to MY GREATEST ADVENTURE, but also not too different from STRANGE ADVENTURES, MYSTERY IN SPACE, HOUSE OF MYSTERY and HOUSE OF SECRETS. The editing credit is only for Whitney Ellsworth for many years, as with the entire DC line. Actual editing was probably by Jack Schiff and/or his associates George Kashdan and Murray Boltinoff, each of the last two got solo editing credit for a while in the 1960s. The series ran for 104 issues under this title, then was renamed simply THE UNEXPECTED, ending with issue #222 in 1982.

Ira Schnapp designed the logo word UNEXPECTED, while the words above it are set in type. This allowed that type to vary in size as needed to make room for cover art. Schnapp’s telescoped block letters are unsurprising except possibly for the depth of the telescoping. This is the only logo of his I can think of which is intended to run off the page at the top. The logo works fine, and the curved shape adds interest. Ira also lettered the word balloons and caption, and did so for most of the covers until early 1968. He lettered only eight stories inside the book. I like this cover idea about a cartoonist, and Ira’s tiny lettering in the drawn comic strip is just as good as the larger balloon.

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Ira Schnapp in WONDER WOMAN

Images © DC Comics except as noted

Though the DC logo is on early issues of WONDER WOMAN from 1942 on, it was published by National Comics’ sister company All-American Comics until the two merged in 1946. Publisher M.C. Gaines inked a deal with William Moulton Marston, already a successful psychologist and author, to create a new female superhero, Wonder Woman. Marston brought in his own pick for artist, H.G. Peter, and the two created the series in their own studio, delivering finished stories to the publisher which included lettering. The editor at All-American was Sheldon Mayer. It’s not known who designed the script logo, but after looking at all the early covers for this article, I’m now thinking it was created by Peter, as I will explain below. The caption on this first issue might have been added by the publisher, as the style is more like other cover lettering they were doing than anything Peter produced. Peter employed assistants on the stories, but I think all the early covers are entirely his work.

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Ira Schnapp in FALLING IN LOVE

Images © DC Comics

With three successful romance titles on the stands in 1955, DC added a fourth one with a Sept/Oct cover date. It’s unclear whether Robert Kanigher oversaw this one, but the actual editing was probably handled first by Zena Brody, then Phyllis Reed. In the 1960s it was handled by Larry Nadle and then Jack Miller. The series ran 143 issues, ending in 1973. By that time romance comics were no longer seen as relevant by teen readers.

Ira Schnapp designed the logo using an older style for the capital F that he favored, with the rest of the top line in appealing lower case, leaving LOVE larger and all caps to push the theme. Ira also lettered the word balloon and the caption, where he’s used a similar style to the top logo line in F of the story title. Ira would letter most of the covers to issue #98 in 1968 and also most of the inside stories, making it one of the most prolific for him. Like the other company romance titles at the time, this one did not use the DC bullet symbol in the upper left corner.

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Ira Schnapp in FRONTIER FIGHTERS and LEGENDS OF DANIEL BOONE

Images © DC Comics

These two short-lived adventure series ran eight issues each in 1955-56. FRONTIER FIGHTERS was an anthology with three features per issue, while DANIEL BOONE was all about that character. Both were likely prompted by the success of Walt Disney’s TV version of Davy Crockett in 1954-55, a big hit. These books were probably edited by Jack Schiff and/or his assistants Murray Boltinoff and George Kashdan.

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