Ira Schnapp in AQUAMAN and THE ATOM

Images © DC Comics

Aquaman had been a regular DC character since 1941, but did not star in his own series until 1962. The tryouts for that ran in SHOWCASE #30-33, example above. This Aquaman logo had been created to top the splash pages of his stories in 1944, though Ira Schnapp added AQUALAD for this use.

When the new series began it featured a new logo by Schnapp which used the letter shapes from the previous logo, but made taller with a larger A and in an arc. The editor was Jack Schiff, and later George Kashdan. Aqualad had a much smaller byline, and Ira used some flaming letters in the caption. Since he was a superhero, Aquaman didn’t have to explain how he breathed and spoke underwater, and his opponents were often as mythic or fantastic as those in many other DC books of the time. Ira Schnapp lettered most of the covers up to issue #33, but none of the stories inside.

Aquaman could speak to and command the creatures of the sea, and as seen on the cover of issue #3, he wasn’t above using them to save himself.

Issue #9 from 1963 has Schnapp lettering in the bottom caption, but the word balloons are by someone else, I don’t know who. Perhaps they were added later in the DC production department.

Issue #16 has a larger and relettered subtitle, and features Aquaman’s love interest Mera in the background.

Not wasting any time, Aquaman and Mera were married in issue #18 from 1964 with the Justice League in attendance, the first cover appearance of a superhero wedding. Interesting to note which members didn’t need breathing apparatus: Superman, Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter. The scroll caption by Ira shows his ability to work in curved perspective.

Not only was Aquaman the rare hero to marry, he and Mera had a son in issue #23 from 1966. Ira’s banner at the top announces the event, which seems to be a mixed blessing.

Ira Schnapp’s last cover lettering for was on issue #33 from 1968. The series ran to issue #63 in 1978. The character had several later series and remains one of DC’s most well-known characters. Here are the covers lettered by Schnapp: 1-21, 23-24, 26-29, 31-33. That’s 30 in all.

The Atom was the third 1940s DC character revamped by editor Julius Schwartz after The Flash and Green Lantern. His tryout ran in SHOWCASE #34-36 with a new logo by Ira Schnapp.

The first issue of Atom’s own series began in 1962 with Schwartz editing, and ran to issue #38 in 1968. Ira Schnapp lettered most of the covers but none of the stories inside, many of which were lettered by Gaspar Saladino.

Issue #4 used a rare four-panel sequence with Ira’s thought balloon lettering helping to tell the story.

In addition to the caption and balloons, Ira lettered some book titles on the cover of issue #9, and probably the numbers and letters on the phone.

Issue #12 from 1964 has a rare round caption by Ira, and this cover is a good example of poor color choices made for the lettering (not by Ira). In the caption at the top, the first two lines should have been reversed white or yellow to read on the dark background, and the final line of the lower caption needed similar help, perhaps making it red.

Issue #19 has a completely reversed upper burst caption which reads fine, and I like the lettering in the lower caption too.

By issue #23 in 1966, cover lettering was getting larger and more bombastic. This might have been in reaction to what Marvel Comics was doing on their covers, but DC could never get theirs to work as well.

Ira uses some tall Art Deco influenced lettering in his caption for issue #32. Notice how well the blurb fits into the space.

Ira’s final cover lettering for the series was on issue #35 from 1968, and the book would last only three more issues. The labels on this cover are quite well done, and I also like the push-pin in the caption. Here are the covers lettered by Schnapp: 1–6, 8-13, 15-19, 21-27, 29-35. That’s 31 in all.

Aquaman on Wikipedia.

The Atom on Wikipedia.

More articles like this are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

3 thoughts on “Ira Schnapp in AQUAMAN and THE ATOM

  1. David Goldfarb

    As to that cover on Aquaman #3, where you say “Aquaman could speak to and command the creatures of the sea, and as seen on the cover of issue #3, he wasn’t above using them to save himself.” — at first glance, yeah, it looks like the fish are getting skewered. But a closer look reveals that no fish are being harmed in the making of this cover; they’re actually all grabbing the missile weapons with their mouths. Which is pretty implausible just from a ballistics standpoint, but at least it isn’t the King of the Sea sacrificing his subjects.

  2. Lee

    Todd, I strongly suspect that the balloons on Aquaman #9 are by either Milt Snapinn or Joe Letterese, but it is some years since I tried to identify their respective lettering styles.
    Snapinn seemed to letter most Superman stories in the 1960s, IMO, although possibly I exaggerate a little.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.