Recently I’ve been receiving a lot of trade paperbacks reprinting old lettering work of mine that I don’t care for much. When you’ve done as much as I have, it can’t all be top notch, and sometimes it’s a matter of bad reproduction or paper choice, but it can also be lettering that could have been made better if I’d had more time or given it more effort. I’m happy to say that the above collection, which I received today, is bucking the trend by reprinting work of mine that I mostly like a lot, having just paged through it. The book reprints issues #742-753 of DETECTIVE COMICS from 2000-2001. This is fairly near the end of the time when I was doing mostly hand-lettering for DC. All the balloons and captions here are hand-lettered, though some of the signs and titles are produced on my Mac and probably then pasted on the art either by me or at DC. The book is printed on glossy bright white paper, and both the art and the lettering look quite good on it. The stories by Greg Rucka are excellent as I recall, the art, mostly by Shawn Martinbrough, is deco and stylish, and the limited palette of colors, often close to duo-tone, are particularly appealing. There’s also an issue and a half of fine lettering by Bill Oakley: an issue I couldn’t finish for some reason (perhaps I was away on vacation) and another complete one. I love Bill’s lettering, and it’s great to see it here. If you want good examples of my work at the time, or just a fine read, I’d recommend this one. Looks like it goes on Sale May 24th.
This and all images © Marvel.
Continuing my ongoing series about the cover lettering of Danny Crespi at Marvel Comics, mostly from 1974-1979. Photocopies of saved cover lettering from Danny’s files were compiled into a collection by letterer and friend Phil Felix during the 1980s when he worked with Danny on staff at Marvel, and Phil sent me copies. This time I’ll look at pages 41 (above) through 44. Everything on this page is by Crespi except “The Trial of Colossus,” which is by Gaspar Saladino. Sources follow. Continue reading
Concluding my research into the work of Ira Schnapp on interior stories for BATMAN, issue #34, April-May 1946, has no work by Ira. There are three Batman stories credited in the Grand Comics Database by comics historians Michael O’Hearn and Joe Desris to Joe Letterese with a question mark, making it a guess. I worked with Joe, and I know he was on staff in the Marvel bullpen in the early to mid 1950s. I don’t know what he was doing in the 1940s, so it’s conceivable he could have worked for DC as a freelance letterer, but the Batman lettering on this story, sample above, has the distinctive exclamation marks of Dick or Laura Sprang (working as Pat Gordon). All three stories are drawn by Sprang.
Issue #35 has three Batman stories that are all lettered in the same style. It matches the look of issue #33 which I decided must be the work of Ira Schnapp using an alternate style, since is name is on a sign in one of those stories. It’s similar to what I think of as Ira’s regular style, but with some differences: wider and somewhat curvier letters, for instance. Is this the other, older letterer I’ve called “proto-Schnapp” because I suggest his work might have been imitated by Ira, or is this Ira himself? I guess I will go with the suggestion of O’Hearn and Desris and call it Ira’s work, but with a question mark, as I’m not sure.
Issue #36, Aug.-Sept. 1946, has three Batman stories with the letterer identified by O’Hearn and Desris as Ira Schnapp. The third story, title page above, looks very much like Ira to me, reinforced by the Old English title.
The other two stories, sample above from the first one, have lettering like this that I don’t think is much like Ira’s regular work. The letters are very wide, and more curvy, The S is more rounded, the R has those curved right legs, and even the question marks are larger and differently shaped from what Ira usually did. Is this once again Ira using an alternate style, or is this the unknown letterer I’ve called “proto-Schnapp”?
A detail from the third story. These letters are less wide, generally square, and notice the smaller question mark, but there are a few curved-right-leg R’s. I have to put a question mark on the first two stories.
Issue #38 has three Batman stories, all in Ira Schnapp’s standard style. And from here on, it remains so, and is easy to identify. Ira became the regular Batman letterer, often doing all three Batman stories until issue #68 dated Dec. 1951 – Jan. 1952, though he missed a few issues completely.
Issue #40, for instance, has three stories drawn by Dick Sprang and probably lettered by either him or his wife Laura (as Pat Gordon). Note the distinctive exclamation marks.
The same is true for issue #46. These stories are attributed to Joe Letterese, but I think that’s unlikely. Again, some of the exclamation marks suggest Pat Gordon (Laura Sprang).
Issue #69, Feb.-March 1952, has two stories attributed to Joe Rosen, sample above from the second. An interesting idea, and I haven’t studied Joe’s work enough to know if I agree, but the title does have a Marvel look to it. The third Batman story is attributed to Joe Letterese, but I’m sure Joe was on staff at Marvel then.
Ira Schnapp continued to letter some Batman stories from 1952 to 1962, example above from issue #70, though his participation dwindled in favor of other letterers like Pat Gordon (who, if the attributions of O’Hearn and Desris are correct, gave up using that distinctive exclamation mark) and then Stan Starkman beginning in 1958, another letterer who came over from Marvel when work there dried up for him.
With issue #164, June 1964, the debut of the new-look Batman spearheaded by Carmine Infantino (though drawn here by Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella), Gaspar Saladino became the regular letterer on BATMAN for some years. Ira Schnapp’s lettering was then only seen on reprints of old stories, or 1940’s Batman newspaper strips he also lettered.
Ira Schnapp made one final appearance as BATMAN letterer on issue #197 dated Dec. 1967. This was a 23-page Catwoman story, a nice way for him to close out this chapter of his work.
Here’s a list of all the interior stories I believe are lettered by Ira Schnapp in BATMAN, with question marks on the early ones I’m not sure about.
BATMAN #27, Feb.-March 1945: 3rd Batman story 12 pages
BATMAN #28, April-May ’45: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #31, Oct.-Nov. ’45: 1st Batman story, 12 pp, 2nd? 11pp, 3rd? 12pp, Alfred? 4 pp. Only sure about the first story.
BATMAN #32, Dec. ’45 – Jan. ’46: Alfred 4 pp
BATMAN #33, Feb.-March ’46: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 13pp, 12pp
BATMAN #35, June-July ’46: all 3 Batman stories? Not sure, but all the same style. 12pp, 13pp, 13pp.
BATMAN #36, Aug.-Sept. ’46: 1st Batman story? 12pp, 2nd? 12pp, 3rd 12pp. Only sure about the third one.
BATMAN #37, Oct.-Nov. ’46: 2nd Batman story 12pp
BATMAN #38, Dec. ’46 – Jan. ’47: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 11pp, 13pp
BATMAN #39, Feb.-March ’47: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 13pp, 13pp
BATMAN #41, June-July ’47: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 13pp
BATMAN #42, Aug.-Sept. ’47: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 13pp, 13pp
BATMAN #43, Oct.-Nov. ’47: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 13pp, 13pp
BATMAN #44, Dec. ’47 – Jan. ’48: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 13pp, 13pp
BATMAN #45, Feb.-March ’48: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 13pp, 12pp
BATMAN #47, June-July ’48: all 3 Batman stories, 10pp, 12pp, 13pp
BATMAN #48, Aug.-Sept. ’48: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 11pp
BATMAN #49, Oct.-Nov. ’48: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #50, Dec. ’48 – Jan. ’49: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 13pp
BATMAN #51, Feb.-March ’49: all 3 Batman stories, 13pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #52, April-May ’49: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 13pp
BATMAN #53, June-July ’49: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #54, Aug.-Sept. ’49: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #55, Oct.-Nov. ’49: 2nd & 3rd Batman stories, 13pp, 12pp
BATMAN #56, Dec. ’49 – Jan. 50: 2nd & 3rd Batman stories, 13pp, 10pp
BATMAN #57, Feb.-March ’50: 2nd & 3rd Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #58, April-May ’50: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #59, June-July ’50: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 10pp, 12pp
BATMAN #60, Aug.-Sept. ’50: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 13pp
BATMAN #61, Oct.-Nov. ’50: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #62, Dec. ’50 – Jan. ’51: 1st & 2nd Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #63, Feb.-March ’51: 1st & 3rd Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #64, April-May ’51: 2nd & 3rd Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #65, June-July ’51: 1st & 2nd Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #66, Aug.-Sept. ’51: 1st & 2nd Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp
BATMAN #67, Oct.-Nov. ’51: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 13pp
BATMAN #68, Dec. ’51 – Jan. ’52: all 3 Batman stories, 12pp, 12pp, 10pp
BATMAN #70, April-May ’52: 1st Batman story, 12pp
BATMAN #71, June-July ’52: 1st Batman story, 12pp
BATMAN #72, Aug.-Sept. ’52: 3rd Batman story, 12pp
BATMAN #73, Oct.-Nov. ’52: 2nd & 3rd Batman stories, 10pp, 12pp
BATMAN #74, Dec. ’52, – Jan. ’53: 2nd & 3rd Batman stories, 10pp, 10pp
BATMAN #75, Feb.-March ’52: 1st & 3rd Batman stories, 10pp, 12pp
BATMAN #76, April-May ’52: 2nd Batman story, 10pp
BATMAN #77, June-July ’52: 3rd Batman story, 10pp
BATMAN #78, Sept.-Oct. ’52: 3rd Batman story, 10pp
BATMAN #97, Feb. ’56: 3rd Batman story, 8pp
BATMAN #99, April ’56: 3rd Batman story, 8pp
BATMAN #105, Feb. ’57: 2nd Batman story, 6pp
BATMAN #118, Sept. ’58: 1st & 2nd Batman stories, 10pp, 6pp
BATMAN #121, Feb. ’59: 2nd Batman story, 8pp
BATMAN #122, March ’59: 2nd Batman story, 8pp
BATMAN #140, June ’61: 1st & 2nd Batman stories, 9pp, 8pp
BATMAN #147, May ’62: 2nd Batman story, 8pp
BATMAN #151, Nov. ’62: 1st & 2nd Batman stories, 17pp, 9pp
BATMAN #197, Dec. ’67: 1st and only Batman story, 23pp
There are also reprints of Ira’s lettering in issues 176, 187, 193 and 198.
So, adding up all those pages except for the ones I’m not sure about, that’s 1340 pages lettered by Ira Schnapp on this title. Plenty more titles to look at, and his total is mounting!
Other parts of this article and many others on Ira Schnapp can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, the Grand Comics Database has many of the lettering credits for this title filled in, some confirmed by the people who did them, a great help to me in identifying the work of Ira Schnapp. This time my focus will be on Ira’s lettering on Batman stories inside the books, but let’s start with a few other identified letterers.
George Roussos had a long career in comics. He’s best remembered today as a prolific colorist for Marvel, but he began in comics as an artist and letterer in 1939. In 1940, according to his Wikipedia entry, George was hired by Bob Kane and Bill Finger to assist Jerry Robinson on Batman stories, beginning with BATMAN #2, cover-dated Summer 1940. George did background pencils, inks and lettering for many of the stories produced by Bob Kane’s studio over the next few years. Eventually he and Robinson went to work directly for DC (National) Comics. Above is an example of his lettering from BATMAN #22, April-May 1944. As you can see, it’s nothing like Ira Schnapp’s work. It uses a wedge-tipped pen point, giving the lines different amounts of thickness depending on the direction of the stroke. Also, many of the letter shapes are unlike those of Ira. Roussos confirmed all his lettering credits on BATMAN, and is the most credited letterer in the first five years of the book. Continue reading
Continuing my research into the lettering work of Ira Schnapp, I’ve gone to my usual sources: digital copies of the actual comics, and the Grand Comics Database. I was surprised and happy to find that, on BATMAN, unlike the other early DC titles I’ve researched, lettering credits are often filled in, thanks to researchers like Joe Desris and Martin O’Hearn, and sometimes verified by the letterers themselves! This made my job much easier on this title, even though I don’t always agree with their attributions. More on that as we go along. The cover of BATMAN #27, Feb.-March 1945, is very much in Ira Schnapp’s style, especially the Old English style of SEASON’S GREETINGS. Continue reading