Ira Schnapp in ALL-STAR WESTERN

All images © DC Comics

ALL-STAR COMICS had been a flagship title of the publisher All-American Comics, a sister company of National (DC) Comics. When the two lines were merged in 1946, ALL-STAR continued as a superhero title for some years hosting the Justice Society of America. In 1951 interest in superheroes was waning and DC decided to change the title and theme to ALL-STAR WESTERN, with editor Julius Schwartz at the helm for the rest of the series, which ran from issue #58 to issue #119 in 1961. You might wonder why the company wouldn’t just end this title and start a new one. Several reasons: comics had to apply for lower postage rates, which cost time and money, and steering a title in a new direction meant they didn’t have to reapply for that. Also, first issues were not the top sellers they later became, and readers were more likely to keep picking up a familiar title than to try a new one.

I believe the new logo created here is by Ira Schnapp. ALL-STAR is similar to the previous version, but with horizontally-aligned letters that are more in Ira’s style, as are the letter shapes. The cover lettering is also by Ira. He lettered nearly all the covers of this series, and some inside stories, but not a lot.

Issue #71 from 1953 has a nicely varied selection of Schnapp lettering, including the feature list at the top. The Trigger Twins were most often on the cover until late in the run.

Occasionally Johnny Thunder got cover treatment too. Word balloons by Ira were used, but not as often as on many other titles.

On issue #108 from 1959, a new logo by Schnapp put Johnny Thunder firmly in the lead position. The gun-slinger must have been popular with readers. I like Ira’s letters in THUNDER with straight sides and broken ends, an idea I’ve copied myself.

The final issue of the series shows Johnny teamed with a female gunslinger in an attempt to pull in new readers, but it must not have worked. I love Ira’s lettering in her name in the caption.

Here are the covers I see Ira Schnapp lettering on: 58-60, 62-79, 81, 83-101, 105-119, that’s 56 in all.

While Ira did not letter any stories in the first few issues, I think he designed all the feature logos for the first page of each feature, and would also do that for new features as they appeared. Look how different they are from each other, yet all have some characteristic Schnapp style in the letter shapes. Gaspar Saladino was by far the most frequent story letterer in this title, often doing all the features in an issue, though Ira did have a presence too, and other letterers came in more often in the final third of the run.

The first story lettered by Schnapp was this one in issue #62 dated Dec 51/Jan 52. In general these Western stories seemed less lettering-heavy than other genres of the time.

Here’s a story Ira lettered for issue #63 with some of his handwriting in a letter.

The feature Ira did the most work on was this one, which also has his logo on it. He did a run of these cavalry stories.

Ira lettered a Trigger Twins story for issue #84 in 1955. His logo has been given a new layout to take up less space.

Schnapp’s final story lettering was this one for issue #94 in 1957. I don’t know how often stories featured the thoughts of a horse in Western comics, but it couldn’t have happened much!

Here are the stories I see Ira Schnapp lettering on:

#62 Dec 1951/Jan 1952: Don Caballero 4pp

#63 Feb/March 1952: Roving Ranger 6pp, Don Caballero 6pp

#79 Oct/Nov 1954: Sun-Dance of the Crow Indians 3pp

#83 June/July 1955: Foley of the Fighting 5th 6pp

#84 Aug/Sept 1955: The Trigger Twins 6pp

#85 Oct/Nov 1955: Foley 6pp

#87 Feb/March 1956: Strong Bow 6pp, Foley 6pp

#88 April/May 1956: Foley 6pp

#90 Aug/Sept 1956: Foley 6pp

#91 Oct/Nov 1956: Foley 4pp

#93 Feb/March 1957: Trigger Twins 6pp, Foley 6pp

#94 April/May 1957: Foley 6pp

That’s a total of 77 pages, not a lot for Ira. More articles in this series can be found on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Ira Schnapp on Wikipedia.

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