Ira Schnapp in BUZZY

All images © DC Comics (except Life, below)

Continuing my research into the comics lettering work of Ira Schnapp, BUZZY, first issue dated Winter 1944, was National (DC) Comics’ first attempt at a teen humor comic, probably spurred by the success of Archie Andrews and company over at MLJ, soon to become Archie Comics. National’s approach was more akin to the college humor magazines like LIFE, JUDGE and COLLEGE HUMOR, particularly the style of John Held Jr. seen on this LIFE cover from 1926:

Not as heavily stylized, but getting cues from 1920s jazz age fellows and flappers. The writer on most early stories was Alvin Schwartz, and the artist was George Storm. Buzzy himself is a jazz-mad teenage horn-player who is sweet on Susie Gruff, and hated by her father Popsy Gruff, as seen on the cover above. His rival is an oddly vampirish boy named Wolfert, always after Susie too. Storm left the title around issue 20, and the art and writing soon became much more like Archie Comics. The cover lettering on the first issue, above, does not look like the work of Ira Schnapp, but he lettered many covers in the series, though some were by others or had no lettering. Ira also lettered many stories, though early on I think the majority were lettered by artist George Storm, or at least someone other than Ira. Schnapp might have designed the logo, or it could be by Storm, I’m not sure.

Issue #2 has a typical Schnapp caption from the time, and I think the rest of the lettering is by him as well. The lettering in the balloon is similar to other loud ones in the stories.

Issue #3 has more typical balloon lettering for Ira at the time. His cover lettering was always done larger and more carefully than story lettering.

Another Schnapp caption on issue #4, so the balloons are probably by him as well.

Issue #5 has a looser approach, but the word Featuring at the top is convincing as Schnapp work, so he probably did these balloons too. The letter shapes look right.

Issue #6 from 1946 also has a Schnapp balloon.

Issue #7 is also lettered by Ira, though as you can see, he hadn’t yet settled on a consistent cover lettering style, and it varies a lot.

Issue #13 from 1947 has no word balloons, but the signs look like Schnapp lettering.

The large open letters in the balloon on issue #17 look like Ira’s work, as does the Danger sign.

By issue #22 from 1948, Ira’s balloon lettering is starting to look more like what he would do later.

Buzzy 30 cover

Issue #30 from 1950 is even more like Ira’s later cover work except for the way the emphasized words are handled, but that was the style favored in the stories in the whole series.

Buzzy 47 cover

By issue #47 from 1953, Ira’s cover balloon style has become standardized, and it appeared on nearly every DC cover from this point until the mid 1960s.

Buzzy 48 cover

Issue #48 is the first to have a new logo designed by Ira. The balloon on this one doesn’t look so much like his cover work at the time, so might be by the cover artist.

Issue #50 has another cover probably not lettered by Schnapp. The balloon shapes are wrong, the letters are too thick overall, and the question marks are also wrong.

Buzzy 54 cover

Issue #54 is by Ira, using a shaky style for the first two words and the balloon shape to indicate shivering. From this point on, I believe all the covers are lettered by Ira.

Buzzy 57 cover

On issue #57, the balloon shapes are clearly not by Schnapp, and probably by the cover artist, but the letters are Ira’s.

Buzzy 69 cover

Issue #69 has a four-panel gag lettered by Ira, an interesting way to give readers a little extra for their money, but by this time the title was fading, and soon being published less often.

Buzzy 77 cover

The final issue, #77 dated Oct. 1958, has some nice art by Owen Fitzgerald and fine lettering by Ira, but it was published a full year after issue #76, perhaps to use up remaining inventory.

Here are the BUZZY covers I believe were lettered by Ira Schnapp:

2-9, 13, 17-18, 21-24, 27-28, 30, 32-35, 37-38, 42-47, 49, 51-77, a total of 58 in all.

Buzzy 3 page

Interior lettering on the early issues is probably by artist George Storm himself, as seen on this page from issue 3. Here you can more clearly see the the jazz age caricatures he used.

Buzzy 6 page

By issue #6, Ira was lettering some of the stories, perhaps to help Storm (or whoever was lettering for him) keep up with deadlines. Ira’s style on this page is very much like what he was doing on other DC titles at the time as well as the Superman newspaper strip. The large, bold emphasized words are something he only did on humor titles, though, perhaps following what the pencils suggested.

Ira also used open letters for emphasis as on this page from issue #8.

This page from issue #12 shows that Buzzy could get wordy at times. The balloon shapes are probably by the artist.

Buzzy 17 page

Issue #17’s Buzzy stories are all lettered by Ira. By this time most issues also had other short teen humor stories. George Storm left around issue #19, and after that most of the Buzzy stories were lettered by Schnapp. Note that Ira’s lettering is now narrower, with most letters fitting into a square.

Buzzy 26 page

By issue #26, July-Aug. 1949, Ira was also lettering the balloon shapes, the emphasized words are no larger than the regular ones, and the art is moving away from Storm’s style to something closer to other DC teen humor books like A DATE WITH JUDY. This is typical of Schnapp’s story lettering from here until the end of his career. Later, in the 1950s, Ira’s work on this series was less frequent, and other letterers did some Buzzy stories in most issues.

Sheldon Mayer’s Scribbly made a few appearances, and this one from issue #32 dated July-Aug 1950, is lettered by Schnapp. By this time he was also lettering some of the non-Buzzy stories.

A typical Schnapp page from issue #39 in 1951.

Buzzy 77 page

Most of the stories in the final issue, #77, are lettered by Ira, though they may have sat in a drawer for a while. In panels two and six he tackles the difficult task of making a complicated formula work in word balloons.

Here’s a list of all the Ira Schnapp-lettered stories I’ve found in BUZZY. All stories feature Buzzy unless otherwise noted. Where Ira did not letter all of them I’ve added the story numbers for his.

#6 March-April 1946: 8pp, 6pp, 6pp, 8pp (1-3, 5)

#7 May-June 1946: 8pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 8pp (1-3, 5-6)

#9 Sept-Oct 1946: 8pp, 6pp, 6pp, 8pp (2-5)

#11 Jan-Feb 1947: 8pp, 6pp, 6pp, 8pp, 6pp

#12 March-April 1947: 6pp, 7pp, 7pp, Prof. Pipp 2pp, 6pp, 8pp

#14 July-Aug 1947: 6pp, 8pp, 5pp, 7pp, 7pp

#15 Sept-Oct 1947: 8pp, 7pp, 8pp, 6pp, 6pp

#16 Nov-Dec 1947: 6pp (2)

#17 Jan-Feb 1948: 8pp, 6pp, 7pp, 7pp, 6pp

#19 May-June 1948: 9pp, 5pp, 7pp, 6pp, 7pp

#20 July-Aug 1948: 6pp, 6pp, 7pp, 7pp, 7pp

#21 Sept-Oct 1948: 10pp, 7pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp

#22 Nov-Dec 1948: 8pp, 6pp, 6pp, 10pp

#23 Jan-Feb 1949: 8pp, 7pp, 7pp, 9pp

#24 March-April 1949: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 8pp

#25 May-June 1949: 6pp, 7pp, 6pp, 7pp, 7pp

#26 July-Aug 1949: 6pp, 4pp, 5pp, 5pp, 5pp, 6pp

#27 Sept-Oct 1949: 6pp, 5pp, 6pp, 3pp, 7pp

#28 Nov-Dec 1949: 6pp, 6pp, 9pp, Datewise 2pp

#29 Jan-Feb 1950: 4pp, DW 2pp, 7pp (3-4)

#30 March-April 1950: 10pp, 4pp, 5pp, DW 2pp, 9pp

#31 May-June 1950: 8pp, 6pp, 3pp, Pam 3pp, DW 2pp, 6pp, Howie 1pp, 4pp, 6pp

#32 July-Aug 1950: 6pp, 5pp, Pam 6pp, DW 2pp, 6pp, Scribbly 6pp, 6pp

#33 Sept-Oct 1950: 6pp, 7pp, Willy Nilly 4pp, 4pp, DW 2pp, 7pp

#34 Nov-Dec 1950: 6pp, 6pp, Pam 3pp, Date Duds 2pp, 7pp, Liz 3pp, 6pp

#35 Jan-Feb 1951: 7pp, 8pp, Liz 3pp, 7pp (1-2, 4)

#36 March-April 1951: 10pp, 7pp, 8pp

#37 May-June 1951: 8pp, DW 2pp, Pam 3pp, Liz 3pp, 7pp (1 & 3)

#38 July-Aug 1951: 8pp, 6pp, 7pp, Willy Nilly 3pp, 6pp (1-3, 5)

#39 Sept-Oct 1951: 8pp, 7pp, 6pp, 8pp

#40 Nov-Dec 1951: 8pp, 6pp, 7pp (1, 3-4)

#41 Jan-Feb 1952: 6pp, 5pp, 7pp, 9pp

#42 March-April 1952: 9pp, 6pp, Coby 3pp (1-2)

#43 May-June 1952: 8pp, 6pp (1 & 3)

#44 July-Aug 1952: 8pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-3)

#45 Sept-Oct 1952: 8pp, 6pp, 7pp (1-2, 4)

#46 Nov-Dec 1952: 6pp, 4pp, 6pp, 6pp (2-5)

#47 Jan-Feb 1953: Coby 3pp

#48 March-April 1953: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 3pp (1-4)

#49 May-June 1953: 6pp, 6pp, Tips for Teens 2pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-3, 5)

#50 July-Aug 1953: 7pp, 6pp (2-3)

#51 Sept-Oct 1953: 7pp, 6pp (3, 5)

#52 Nov-Dec 1953: 6pp, 5pp, 6pp, Willy 5pp (1-3)

#53 Jan 1954: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-4)

#54 Feb 1954: 6pp, 6pp (1, 5)

#55 April 1954: 6pp, 6pp, Fittin’ Thing 2pp (1-2)

#56 May 1954: Liz 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp (3-5)

#57 July 1954: 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 8pp (1-4)

#58 Aug 1954: 6pp, 6pp (2-3)

#59 Oct 1954: 5pp, Kitty Kar 3pp, Coby 6pp, 6pp (2-3)

#60 Nov 1954: 5pp, 7pp (2-3)

#61 Jan 1955: 6pp, 5pp (1, 3)

#62 Feb 1955: 6pp (1)

#63 April 1955: 7pp, 6pp (2-3)

#64 May 1955: 6pp (2)

#66 Aug 1955: 6pp, Liz 5pp, 3pp (2-3)

#67 Oct 1955: 7pp (3)

#68 Nov 1955: 6pp (2)

#70 March-April 1956: Buzzy & Susie 4pp, Susie 2pp, 2nd Buzzy 4pp, Wolfie 2pp

#71 May-June 1956: 4pp, 3pp, 4pp, 1 pp, Buzzy & Boppo 1 pp (2-5)

#74 Nov-Dec 1956: 6pp, 6pp (1, 3)

#75 Jan-Feb 1957: 6pp (1)

#77 Oct 1958. 6pp, 6pp, 7pp, 6pp (1-4)

That’s 1,407 pages, if my math is right, a solid amount of work.

Other articles in this series as well as more you might enjoy can be found on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

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