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Ira Schnapp in OUR FIGHTING FORCES

Images © DC Comics

Having had success with three war titles that launched in 1952, in 1954 DC began another one also edited by Robert Kanigher. I’ve looked but haven’t found out anything about Kanigher’s wartime service in the U.S. Army, but he certainly had a way with war stories, both as writer and editor. DC relied on him for many years in those roles, and readers seemed to love his comics. This title ran to issue #181 in 1978. In the 1970s it featured “The Losers” by Jack Kirby, but that’s beyond the time period I’ll discuss here.

The logo is by Ira Schnapp. The rounded letters are a surprising choice for a war comic, though they do set this one apart from the earlier ones. A telescoping drop shadow on FIGHTING FORCES added depth and made room for more than one color, and the script OUR is a nice contrast and similar to what Ira did on the other war logos. Despite the roundness, there’s a monumental elegance to this logo that seems appropriate to the subject. Ira also did the caption lettering, and would letter nearly all the covers until issue #111 in 1968, but he only lettered one story inside the book.

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Ira Schnapp in HOWIE and HARVEY

Images © DC Comics

This post looks at two short-lived teen humor titles from DC published in the early 1950s. They were already publishing A DATE WITH JUDY, BUZZY, and LEAVE IT TO BINKY in this genre, and these were attempts to expand in that area that did not sell well enough to last long. HOWIE was drawn in California by animator Owen Fitzgerald, who was already doing THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE and other DC humor work. HARVEY was probably handled completely in New York. Whitney Ellsworth is the editor of record on both, as on all DC titles at the time, but the actual editing was probably handled by Jack Schiff or Larry Nadle. HOWIE ran 18 issues, HARVEY only seven.

Ira Schnapp was the the main and almost the only letterer on both titles’ covers and stories. I don’t think he designed the logo for HOWIE, though, as it doesn’t look like his work, so perhaps that was done by artist Owen Fitzgerald or someone else in California. HERE’S HOWIE COMICS ran from Jan/Feb 1952 to Nov/Dec 1954. COMICS was added to the logo and indicia with issue #2.

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Incoming: BATMAN, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS Deluxe Hardcover

Image © DC Comics

Just arrived is the hardcover collection featuring The Joker in the title story as well as BATMAN: GOTHAM NOIR and DETECTIVE COMICS #784-786 from 2001 to 2005. All are written by Ed Brubaker. Artists are Doug Mahnke, Sean Phillips, Patch Zirchewr, Aaron Sowd and Steve Bird. Colorists are David Baron, Dave Stewart and Jason Wright. Letterers are Rob Leigh, Bill Oakley and myself on the Detective issues. Seems like a nice package, with a retail price of $34.99, and scheduled for release on Oct. 27th, 2020. An Amazon preorder link is below, or check with your comics retailer.

And Then I Read: THE SINISTER MYSTERY OF THE MESMERIZING GIRL by Theodora Goss

This is the third book about The Athena Club, a group of female characters from fantastic literature who work together to solve crimes and mysteries, along the lines of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” but not derivative except for a few crossover characters. The Athena Club are sisters Mary Jekyll and Diana Hyde of Stevenson’s book, Beatrice Rappaccini from “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Catherine Moreau, the lone surviving beast-woman from Well’s “Island of Dr. Moreau,” and Justine Frankenstein, the intended bride of Frankenstein’s creation. Other characters from literature abound, including Ayesha from H. Rider Haggard’s “She,” Dorian Gray, and Sherlock Holmes, Watson and the Baker Street Irregulars.

While I loved the first book, which introduced the characters and explored their origins and history, the second took them on a case in Europe that I found somewhat flawed but still enjoyed. This third book takes place mostly in London and Cornwall, and is as satisfying as the first one. One narrative technique that’s distracting is that Catherine is the “author” of the book, and her writing is often interrupted by comments to her from the others about what she’s writing. This tends to pull me out of the story, but at times is entertaining too. There’s plenty of excitement in the plot as Moriarty is gathering a gang of shady characters himself with a plan to kidnap Queen Victoria and take over England, while on a personal level the Athena Club is searching for their maid and friend Alice, who has gone missing along with Holmes and Watson. Thrilling scenes take place in the British Museum as well as on the coast of Cornwall, and despite their abilities, the Athena Club has formidable odds to overcome.

A good and enjoyable read, as are the first two, and recommended for those who want to get away from today’s harsh realities.

Incoming: SNOW, GLASS, APPLES by Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran

This has been out for a while, but I just got my letterer copies from Dark Horse. I loved working on this book, the art by Colleen is amazingly wonderful, and her adaptation of Neil’s story is excellent. This is my first time seeing many of the pages in color, and the colors look fine, but I like the line art even more.

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