DC Comics (then National Comics) had a long-standing involvement with radio drama beginning with their own affiliated Adventures of Superman radio show that ran for over 2000 episodes from 1940 to 1951. DC had entered the teen humor genre with BUZZY in 1944, and in 1947 they began this new teen humor series based on a popular radio show that ran from 1941 to 1950, which also inspired a 1948 film and, briefly, a TV show. Archie Comics was doing very well with their teen humor titles, and I think DC did okay with theirs, but it was never a major part of the company’s output. The theme, as you might imagine, was dating, and some stories featured Judy’s brother Randolph and Judy’s friends, but most focused on Judy, her family, and her boyfriend Oogie. Larry Nadle edited. As far as lettering goes, this new series was Ira Schnapp’s project. He designed the logo, lettered all the other text in the trade dress (the type at the top), lettered nearly all the covers, designed the house ads, and lettered most of the Judy stories in the entire 79 issue run. Ira seems to have liked working on humor titles, and perhaps this one was even more appealing because he could listen to the radio show at home with his family. Judy’s stories were usually lighter in the amount of lettering needed compared to superhero stories, too, which may have been a plus.
Some of the Judy covers had little or no lettering. Issue #3 is the first one with a word balloon. It’s in Ira’s familiar style, but larger than what he often did later.
By issue #5 the logo had been revised to make A DATE WITH much larger. The open letters and large balloon from the umpire are unusual for Ira at the time, and were probably suggested by what was in the pencilled art or by the editor, Larry Nadle, who handled all the humor titles at DC for many years. I also like the sound effect.
By early 1949, Ira’s balloon lettering is getting more regular, but it’s still not in the style he would settle on a few years later. He’s still lettering the issue number, date and price here.
This is the first of several covers that tell a four-panel story, a good idea to draw in buyers. Ira’s lettering is similar to what he did on inside stories, but a bit larger and lettered more carefully.
Issue #25 from 1951 has some interesting wavery lettering in the balloon. Most of the trade dress is now typeset like other DC titles except for the continuing radio show blurb at the top.
Issue #28 has the first typical Ira Schnapp cover lettering in the style familiar from many DC titles of the time. From then on, Ira’s balloons looked like this on the covers. The radio blurb at the top now includes a reference to the TV show, and is in type.
Another example of a four-panel story or gag on the cover. Here Ira’s mature cover lettering style is used.
Covers late in the series like this one, probably by Bob Oksner, emphasized the character’s sex appeal perhaps in an attempt to hold onto a dwindling audience, but inside Judy was usually more likely to hold Oogie at bay. Ira Schnapp’s cover lettering always helped sell the joke.
Here are the covers lettered by Schnapp, though in some cases he only did signs: 1-3, 5-7, 10-17, 20-25, 28-43, 45-48, 50-60, 62-79. That’s 69 in all.
Like most DC humor titles, Judy was an anthology featuring several short Judy stories as well as other short teen humor ones. Ira lettered nearly all the stories featuring Judy and also stories starring her brother Randolph. Early on, stories featuring other unrelated characters were lettered by others, but later Ira also did some of those. The first page of the first Judy story, above, has very rounded balloons, so perhaps they were put in by the artist. Note the early method of indicating breath-only words by putting them in parentheses: (SIGH).
Ira gave his lettering a lot more variety in this title than usual, perhaps trying to copy what he was hearing on the radio broadcasts. The use of very large emphasis here is a good example.
Even open lettering appeared quite often, perhaps imitating the melodramatic delivery of the radio stars.
Another example with even more large open lettering and emphasized words in various sizes and styles. For one thing, Ira rarely had room to do this kind of thing in most DC comics.
Stories featuring Judy’s brother Randolph began appearing with issue #7, also lettered by Ira. He might have done the logo, or it could have been by the artist, as it doesn’t quite look right for Ira.
More large and varied lettering in this story, with shaky letters.
Note the use of a dashed border to indicate whispering in the last panel of this story, and the way Ira recaptured space for his lettering by overlapping panels above.
This story includes a transitional way of indicating words with breath only, dashed parentheses around YAWN! Later the dashes would be rotated to emanate from the word.
By issue #17, two page features presenting dating tips were appearing, often lettered by Ira. These must have been quick to do.
This story features handwritten diary entries that are probably close to Ira Schnapp’s own handwriting.
By issue #25 in 1951, Ira’s lettering had lost a lot of the variety and large emphasis, and was looking more like his lettering on most other DC titles, with emphasis in bold italic but generally the same size as the rest. This may have been an editorial decision, or simply lack of time to do more.
Here’s a list of the stories lettered by Ira Schnapp. All feature Judy unless otherwise noted. Where someone else lettered a Judy story, I will note that.
#1 Oct-Nov 1947: 10pp, 7pp, 7pp, 8pp
#2 Dec 1947-Jan 1948: 10pp, 8pp, 9pp, 10pp
#3 Feb-March 1948: 10pp, 7pp, 6pp, 8pp
#4 April-May 1948: 8pp, 7pp, 7pp, 8pp
#5 June-July 1948: 10pp, 9pp, 8pp
#6 Aug-Sept 1948: 8pp, 6pp, 7pp, 8pp
#7 Oct-Nov 1948: 6pp, Randolph 4pp, 6pp, 8pp, 7pp
#8 Dec 1948-Jan 1949: 10pp, Randolph 6pp, 8pp, Willy Nilly 6pp, 6pp
#9 Feb-March 1949: 7pp, Randolph 5pp, 5pp, 7pp, 11pp
#10 April-May 1949: 6pp, 7pp, Randolph 6pp, 8pp, Willy Nilly 6pp, 6pp
#11 June-July 1949: 6pp, 6pp, Randolph 4pp, 7pp, Willy Nilly 6pp, 6pp
#12 Aug-Sept 1949: 8pp, 6pp, 8pp, Randolph 3pp, 9pp
#13 Oct-Nov 1949: 6pp, 6pp, 4pp, Randolph 5pp, 8pp
#14 Dec 1949-Jan 1950: 8pp, 4pp, Randolph 5pp, 8pp, Liz 3pp, Howie 1pp, 7pp
#15 Feb-March 1950: 8pp, 6pp, Randolph 4pp, 4pp, Howie 1pp, Willy Nilly 5pp (3rd and 5th Judy stories not by Schnapp)
#16 April-May 1950: 5pp, Randolph 3pp, 6pp, 5pp, Willy Nilly 3pp, 7pp (1st Judy story not by Schnapp)
#17 June-July 1950: 8pp, 7pp, Randolph 3pp, Date Duds 2pp, 7pp (4th Judy story not by Schnapp)
#18 Aug-Sept 1950: 12pp, 6pp, Randolph 4pp, Date Duds 2pp, 5pp, 8pp
#19 Oct-Nov 1950: 6pp, 6pp, 7pp, Datewise 2pp, Randolph 5pp, 6pp, 6pp
#20 Dec 1950-Jan 1951: 5pp, 7pp, Randolph 3pp, Date Duds 2pp, 5pp, 3pp, 7pp
#21 Feb-March 1951: 8pp, 6pp, Randolph 5pp, Date Duds 2pp, Pam 3pp, 6pp, 7pp
#22 April-May 1951: 9pp, 5pp, Willy Nilly 5pp, 7pp (3rd Judy story not by Schnapp)
#23 June-July 1951: 6pp, 8pp, Randolph 6pp, 7pp, 9pp
#24 Aug-Sept 1951: 8pp, 6pp, Randolph 6pp, Date Duds 2pp, 7pp, 8pp
#25 Oct-Nov 1951: 8pp, 7pp, Pam 3pp, 10pp
#26 Dec 1951-Jan 1952: 8pp, 7pp, Date Duds 2pp, 6pp
#27 Feb-March 1952: 6pp, Pam 3pp, 10pp (1st Judy story not by Schnapp)
#28 April-May 1952: 8pp, 4pp, 5pp, Fittin’ Thing 2pp, Randolph 6pp, (last Judy story not by Schnapp)
#29 June-July 1952: 8pp, 6pp, Randolph 6pp, 9pp
#30 Aug-Sept 1952: 8pp, Randolph 4pp, Date Duds 2pp (only 1st Judy story by Schnapp)
#31 Oct-Nov 1952: 8pp, Coby 4pp, 7pp, Designs on You 2pp, Randolph 5pp, 7pp
#32 Dec 1952-Jan 1953: 6pp, 6pp, Randolph 5pp, Date Duds 2pp, 6pp (3rd Judy story not by Schnapp)
#33 Feb-March 1953: 6pp, 6pp, Date Duds 2pp, Randolph 5pp, Rusty 6pp, 7pp
#34 April-May 1953: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp
#35 June-July 1953: (first two Judy stories not by Schnapp), Tips to Teens 2pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp
#36 Aug-Sept 1953: (first two Judy stories not by Schnapp), 3pp, 6pp
#37 Oct-Nov 1953: 6pp, 6pp, Date Duds 2pp, 6pp, Rusty 6pp, 7pp
#38 Dec 1953-Jan 1954: 6pp, 6pp, (3rd Judy story not by Schnapp), 5pp
#39 Feb-March 1954: (1st Judy story not Schnapp), Datewise 2pp, 9pp, Willy 6pp, 9pp
#40 April-May 1954: 6pp, (2nd Judy story not Schnapp), 6pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, 7pp, 6pp
#41 June-July 1954: 6pp, 6pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, Liz 7pp, 6pp, 6pp
#42 Aug-Sept 1954: 6pp, 6pp, Coby 6pp, 6pp
#43 Oct-Nov 1954: 6pp, 6pp, Datewise 2pp, Liz 5pp, 6pp
#44 Dec 1954-Jan 1955: 6pp, 4pp, (3rd Judy story not Schnapp), Kitty Karr 3pp, 6pp
#45 Feb-March 1955: 6pp, (2nd and last Judy stories not Schnapp), Liz 6pp, Datewise 2pp
#46 April-May 1955: (first two Judy stories not Schnapp), Tips to Teens 2pp, Liz 4pp, 6pp
#47 June-July 1955: (1st & 3rd Judy stories not Schnapp), 6pp, Liz 6pp, 4pp
#48 Aug-Sept 1955: 6pp, 4pp, Coby 4pp, 6pp
#49 Oct-Nov 1955: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp
#50 Dec 1955-Jan 1956: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp
#51 Feb-March 1956: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp
#52 April-May 1956: 6pp, 6pp, Fittin’ Thing 2pp, Liz 6pp, 6pp
#53 June-July 1956: 6pp, 4pp, 4pp, 6pp
#54 Aug-Sept 1956: 6pp, (2nd & 3rd Judy stories not Schnapp), Liz 6pp, 6pp
#55 Oct-Nov 1956: 6pp, 6pp, 4pp, 6pp
#56 Dec 1956-Jan 1957: (1st Judy story not Schnapp), 6pp, 4pp, 6pp
#57 Feb-March 1957: (1st Judy story not Schnapp), 6pp, Buzzy 6pp, 6pp
#58 April-May 1957: 6pp, 4pp, 4pp, 6pp
#59 June-July 1957: 6pp, Datewise 2pp, Harvey 6pp, 6pp
#60 Aug-Sept 1957: (1st & 3rd Judy stories not Schnapp), 6pp, Harvey 6pp
#61 Oct-Nov 1957: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp
#62 Dec 1957-Jan 1958: 6pp, 6pp, Coby 3pp, 6pp
#63 Feb-March 1958: 6pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, 6pp (3rd and 4th Judy stories not Schnapp)
#64 April-May 1958: (1st Judy story not Schnapp), Tips to Teens 2pp, 6pp, 6pp
#65 June-July 1958: 12pp, 6pp, 6pp
#66 Aug-Sept 1958: 12pp, Judy’s Tips 2pp, 6pp, 6pp
#67 Oct-Nov 1958: 12pp, 6pp, 6pp
#68 Dec 1958-Jan 1959: 12pp, Date Duds 2pp, Willy Nilly 7pp
#69 Feb-March 1959: 12pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, 6pp (2nd Judy story not Schnapp)
#70 April-May 1959: 12pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, 6pp, 6pp
#71 June-July 1959: 6pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, 6pp, 12pp
#72 Aug-Sept 1959: 10pp, Fashion 2pp, 8pp, 6pp
#73 Oct-Nov 1959: 10pp, Pinups 2pp, 8pp, 6pp
#75 Feb-March 1960: 12pp, 5pp, Tall Tales 2pp, 8pp
#76 April-May 1960: 12pp, On the Beach 1pp, 10pp, 5pp
#77 June-July 1960: 12pp, 8pp, 6pp
#78 Aug-Sept 1960: 12pp, Teen Talk 1pp, 8pp, 6pp
#79 Oct-Nov 1960: 12pp, 6pp, 6pp, Teen Age 1pp
That’s a total of 2,000 pages if my math is right. And there are plenty of other titles with just as much for this busy letterer! More articles in this series can be found on my Comics Creation page.
A Date With Judy on Wikipedia