Category Archives: Creating Comics

Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1957

All images © DC Comics. From STRANGE ADVENTURES #76, Jan 1957

The number of paid ads in 1957 was up and the number of house ads was down. Several ads from past years were reused, so Ira Schnapp was only asked to letter a few new ones. Most were for the romance line, which saw a new title introduced, and had almost no paid ads, leaving room for Ira’s new work, though several from the past were also reused. On public service ads, like the one above, Ira lettered eleven new ones, one was a repeat. I like the fact that this book quiz includes two fairly recent titles that have since become classics. Buzzy is name-checked but not seen.

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Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1956

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #64, Jan 1956. All images © DC Comics

House ads and public service ads were again lower in 1956, but Ira Schnapp lettering appeared for the first time in two paid ads, this being the first one, covering two pages. The ad was probably prepared by DC for their toy clients, who each might have contributed a small fee, but that’s just a guess. In addition to the title, word balloon and lower right caption, Ira probably also did lettering on the package art. Meanwhile, DC reused several house ads and PSAs from previous years, and there was also a 5000 prize slogan contest that took up four or more pages of every DC title, cutting back room for house ads. The contest pages were all set in type. Ira did have ads to letter, but the only book that got a major promotional push was the new title SHOWCASE, with ads for each of the first three issues.

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Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1955

All images © DC Comics. From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #34, Jan 1955

The number of new house ads and public service ads went down in 1955. There seem to be about as many paid ads as the year before, maybe a few more, so why was that? First, DC reused some previous ads updated with new covers. Second, there were more new ads that could be reused the same way, and were. Third, the number of filler pages went up. Fillers could be many things from gag cartoons by people like Henry Boltinoff (he did most of them by this time), to puzzle and game pages to one-page informative articles in comics form on almost any topic that could be vaguely related to the genre of the title it was in. Those were often written by the editors and drawn by production staffers as freelance work. The ad above is a version of a 1954 ad reworked as a third-page generic ad, but with new Schnapp lettering. An even more generic one with just the lettering at lower right appeared with a list of DC titles in some issues.

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Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1954

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #188, Jan 1954

In 1954 Ira Schnapp continued to dominate the lettering of house ads and public service ads at DC Comics, though there were a few by others, and a few from previous years were reused, sometimes with changes. An example of that is above. Most of this third-page ad appeared in Dec 1952 issues, but “is Super-TV” by Ira replaces his previous lettering. I’m counting it as a new ad because otherwise it would go uncounted, and that doesn’t seem right to me. Your opinion on this may be different.

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Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1953

All images © DC Comics. From THE FOX AND THE CROW #7, Dec 1952/Jan 1953.

As DC Comics continued to expand its lineup in 1953, the house ads and public service ads they used to promote them had a new aspect: nearly all were designed and lettered by Ira Schnapp. Ads by others had mostly vanished, signaling that the company was now fully invested in Ira Schnapp’s work as the company style, as he was also designing most of their logos, lettering most of their covers, and many story pages. Ira worked on staff every day doing these things, and probably also did some at home. We don’t know how he was paid, was it by the piece or was he on salary? When Gaspar Saladino began working at DC in late 1949, he worked on staff but billed his work by the page as a freelancer would. When I started there in 1977, I was a salaried production staffer, but also did freelance lettering at home to supplement my income. Covers and house ads paid about twice the rate for story pages. Either payment method could have been true for Ira, we don’t know. It’s clear that he spent more time and craft on his house ads and covers than he did on story pages, and hopefully was paid accordingly. The ad above is full of charm and good design with thoughtful use of shapes and black and appealing styles in a variety of sizes. One could feel his enthusiasm for the work coming off the page, and readers loved it and wanted to buy the comics he was promoting even if they didn’t know Ira’s name.

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