For some time I’ve been trying to figure out which DC comics from the 1940s were lettered by Ira Schnapp. I have no trouble with stories appearing from 1947 on because Schnapp’s style remained the same from then until the end of his career, but before 1947 that style is not yet settled, making identifying his work harder. In this article I’m going to examine the entire run of ALL FUNNY COMICS looking for Ira’s work. ALL FUNNY was a National Comics (now DC Comics) anthology about funny people (rather than funny animals) that ran for 23 quarterly or bimonthly issues from Winter 1943-44 to May-June 1948. There was never a lead or headline feature, it was a true anthology. Some features ran for many issues, some for just a few, with most stories ranging from four to ten pages plus some one or two page fillers, text pages and ads. The first issue was 60 pages, the rest were 52, but even with ads, that meant quite a few features and stories in each issue. Some features played up the humor, others were closer to adventure stories. Most of the Ira Schnapp lettering I’ve found is on the Dover and Clover feature written and drawn by Henry Boltinoff, a prolific and long-time cartoonist for DC whose brother was editor Murray Boltinoff. Dover and Clover are twins and detectives, rather bumbling ones. Let’s start with this story from issue #20 dated Nov.-Dec. 1947. Not only is the Ira Schnapp lettering style easy for me to recognize, the story title is in a classic Old English style he liked to use when he had the chance, and this issue’s title was perfect for it. Note the word balloon shapes that are made of large non-symmetrical scallops, and they often overlap the panel above, as seen here at lower right.
Here’s a closer look at some of the lettering, and let’s see what we can point out that epitomizes Schnapp’s regular balloon and caption style. The lettering is very regular and even. Most letters would fit perfectly into a square. The horizontal strokes are very close to level, the vertical ones are very close to perfectly vertical. The rounded letters are very evenly round. This is work done by someone with a long career in hand lettering by the time he came to comics, and it shows. Characteristic letters: the S is generally rounded but tends to get straighter in the middle. Note that the S varies more than most letters, it’s one of the hardest to draw consistently because it changes direction in the middle. The G is rounded on the left and square on the right, where it ends in a high horizontal bar. The M has vertical sides. The W often begins with a narrow V followed by a wider V.
Here are some more samples from the Dover and Clover story in ALL FUNNY #19. Note the very small question mark, like a tiny backwards S over a dot. Also note the longer curved right leg of the R’s here. And, while most of the straight strokes are quite straight, the left angled strokes on the Y and V are slightly curved. This seems closest to Ira Schnapp.
For comparison, let’s look at lettering on the other stories in issue 20. The lead feature is Doc & Fatty. Notice how tight the spacing is between lines and between letters. The letters share some features with Schnapp’s style, but are much less even and regular. The letters vary in width and shape a lot, and the overall impression is quite different from Ira’s work.
Here’s a sample from Two Gun Percy, a humorous western with a talking horse. Again, some of the regular letters are similar to Schnapp’s, but are less even. The balloon shapes are quite different from Ira’s, and that large HEY is a style he never used. There’s a lot more of that style in the story.
The lettering on Peaceful Phil tends to be wider than Schnapp’s. Many of these letters would not fit into a square. And they are more curvy and uneven than Ira’s work in general. This may be the work of a letterer I call Proto-Schnapp because I think he was an older man whose work Ira used as a model for his story lettering.
Cave Man Curly resembles Schnapp’s work at first glance, but look at the more rounded G and S, the curves on the M and W, the very bold exclamation mark, and the balloon shapes with straight bottoms, all unlike Schnapp’s work.
Penniless Palmer has lettering that is more angular, particularly the S, and a little too wide for Schnapp. The balloon shapes are also quite different. As you can see, all these stories follow a generally similar style, perhaps even a house style set by Ira, but each differs enough from Ira’s work to make it clearly not his once you’ve looked closely.
Moving forward to issue 21 of ALL FUNNY, the Dover and Clover story has lettering that is definitely NOT by Ira Schnapp. Look at those curly C’s and rounded G as examples. Probably by Proto-Schnapp. I find no Schnapp lettering in this issue or in issue 22.
The final issue of ALL FUNNY, #23, has a Clover and Dover story lettered by Schnapp, and he also did this one, an eight-pager with very nice poster lettering on the splash. Now lets start moving back to earlier issues.
The Dover and Clover stories in issues 6 to 20 are problematic. A few look more like Ira’s work, most look more like Proto-Schnapp or someone else entirely. Here’s the splash page from issue 14 dated Nov.-Dec. 1946.
And a closer look at the title caption. Stimilar to Ira’s work, but everything is a little more curved, a little wider. The right leg of the R is often curved up, while later ones were often straight. On the B, the center stroke between the two loops does not quite touch the left vertical stroke. The overall look is very regular, but the title is definitely looser than most of Ira’s later ones. I’m leaning toward Proto-Schnapp.
Here’s the Dover and Clover story from issue 12 dated July 1946. This one is even less like Ira’s work and probably by Proto-Schnapp.
A closer look at the title caption shows the lettering is too wide for Ira definitely by Proto-Schnapp.
ALL FUNNY #11 and #10, the latter shown here and dated March-April 1946, are lettered in the same style as #12 and by Proto-Schnapp.
Here’s a detail from the page above. Similar to Schnapp’s letter forms, but looser, a little curvier, and sometimes wider.
Here’s the first page of the Dover and Clover story from ALL FUNNY #8 dated Fall 1945 which is by Ira. The Schnapp style is close to what he was doing in later years, including a style of lower case script in the title that turned up in his early cover lettering.
This story is very wordy, which may have influenced Ira’s style choices.
The lettering on Dover and Clover is too wide to be Ira Schnapp in this story from ALL FUNNY #7.
ALL FUNNY #6, dated Spring 1945, has Proto-Schnapp lettering, much wider and generally curvier than Ira’s work.
A detail from the next page of that story shows another very wordy script, definitely unlike Ira Schnapp here. Compare it to the Schnapp sample below.
The differences between Schnapp and Proto-Schnapp are subtle, and I have a hard time with them on some stories.
The Dover and Clover story in ALL FUNNY #5 dated Winter 1944 has a very different lettering style. Here’s a closer look:
These letters are made with a different style of pen point, one with a wedge tip that creates thicker lines in some directions and thinner lines in others, most noticeable on the rounded letters. Few of Ira Schnapp’s characteristic letter forms are here, the lettering and the story title are quite different from his work. It may well be lettering by Henry Boltinoff, who wrote and drew the feature, and his name is in the lower right corner of the first panel. I see no Ira Schnapp lettering at all in issues 1 to 5 of ALL FUNNY. The Dover and Clover features in them has lettering just like this one.
To sum up, I believe Ira Schnapp lettered the following stories:
ALL FUNNY #8, 18 19, 20 & 23: Dover And Clover, 4 pages each.
ALL FUNNY #23: Doc & Fatty, 8 pages.
The earliest Ira Schnapp story page lettering I’ve found here is cover-dated Fall 1945. I have other titles to examine to see if I can find still earlier examples, which I will get to when I have time. Hope you’ve enjoyed this article, others you might like can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.