Ira Schnapp in DEAN MARTIN & JERRY LEWIS

Images © DC Comics

With the success of THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE, launched in 1950, DC Comics decided to try a similar title with the team of Martin and Lewis. Dean Martin was a singer who played straight man for comedian Lewis. They first teamed up in 1946 and were a success on stage, screen, radio and TV until their partnership ended in 1956. DC’s bimonthly comic began in 1952 and ran 40 issues to 1957. After the breakup it continued as a solo title for Jerry for 84 more issues, ending with #124 in 1971, making it the longest-running Hollywood-related title at the company. The editor was Larry Nadle for many years, then Murray Boltinoff. The main artists were Howard Post, then Owen Fitzgerald, then Bob Oksner, though a few late issues were drawn by Neal Adams.

The logo is one of the more lively efforts of Ira Schnapp, except for THE ADVENTURES OF, which is type. Schnapp also did lettering on most of the covers until 1967, and lettered most of the interior stories from the first to issue #83 in 1964, making this title one of his most prolific. Like BOB HOPE, this series generally had one long story broken into three chapters, an unusual style for the time, as well as other short stories in the early years.

Here’s a typical gag cover from issue #2 with Schnapp balloon lettering. Martin and Lewis, and later just Lewis, were always surrounded by beautiful women, but Jerry was generally oblivious to their charms, unlike Bob Hope in his title, playing on his goofily innocent character from the movies and other venues.

Another example of a typical gag cover with Schnapp balloons on issue #17 from 1954.

And another with some additional label lettering by Ira as well as his contest caption running on all the DC titles. The top line of the logo is now lettered by Schnapp with the added word NEW.

With issue #41 from 1957, Jerry had sole possession of the title, and Ira Schnapp redid the word JERRY to match LEWIS. This made the logo less wordy and less cluttered, always a good thing.

Issue #50 from 1959 has lots of fine Schnapp lettering. As was often the case, the girl seems surprised to be there, and was ignored by Jerry.

Issue #61 from 1960 has no word balloons, but I’m sure Ira did the signs and towel lettering, all in the style of Trajan’s column in Rome. Ira worked with this style in his high school years when helping to create the inscriptions on the Farley Post Office building in New York, more on that HERE.

Issue #68 from 1962 was one of several adapting Jerry Lewis films, and in this case using a still from the film on the cover. I’m sure Ira lettered the caption at the top. The one at the bottom might have been a last-minute addition by someone else in the DC production department to tie into the photo.

By issue #85 in 1964 sales may have been slipping, and editor Boltinoff was trying things like giving Jerry a rambunctious nephew to interest readers.

By issue #94 in 1966 we are into the nadir of DC cover design with too much lettering and those regrettable “Go-Go Checks” at the top. I do like Ira’s new top line, though.

Ira’s final cover lettering appeared on issue #105 from 1968, appropriately with his Superman logo redesign from 1940. This cover therefore brackets Ira’s career at DC with his very first job for them and one of his last.

Here are the covers lettered by Ira Schnapp: 2-21, 23-75, 78-82, 84-88, 90-91, 93-96, 98-100, 102-103, 105. That’s a total of 95 covers.

The first page of the first book-length story in issue #1 with lettering by Ira Schnapp in balloons drawn by the artist, Howard Post. As far as I know, Post lived and worked in the New York City area, and the usual process would be for lettering to be done on pencilled art, but since Post was also writing and inking the first few issues, he was allowed to turn in finished art which Ira then lettered. These balloon shapes are fine, actually, just not Ira’s. Lots of signs on this page by Ira, too. As I said above, the series had one long Martin and Lewis story in each issue divided into three chapters. These were made to appear as separate stories with a Martin & Lewis logo on the first page of each chapter, but the final page of the first two chapters said “Continued” at the bottom.

Schnapp also sometimes lettered the unrelated short humor stories that filled out many of the early issues like this one from issue #10 with art by Mort Drucker.

By issue #30 from 1956, the art was by Owen Fitzgerald working out of California, and also doing THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE. These balloon shapes look like Ira’s work, so a plan must have been worked out to allow for that.

Most DC comics from the 1940s to early 1960s had several shorter stories in each issue. The long stories in this title and BOB HOPE were usually lettered by Ira Schnapp, but he was also doing lots of other work for the company, and sometimes simply couldn’t letter an entire long story. DC’s solution for that was to use another letterer whose name I don’t know with either a very similar natural style to Ira’s, or one who could imitate Ira well. This makes identifying Schnapp lettering more difficult, but there are a few differences that became clear to me when I was looking at the pages. On the left side above are two panels by this unknown Ira Schnapp clone, on the right are two panels lettered by Ira, both from issue #38 in 1957. Look at the question marks. The clone, on the left, uses a traditional question mark like a backwards C over a dot. Ira’s distinctive questions marks on the right are like a tiny number 2 over a dot. There are other differences, but that’s the most obvious one. This Schnapp clone’s lettering is not as hard to separate from Ira’s work as the letterer from the 1940s I call Proto-Schnapp, but it did keep me looking carefully. Most of the long stories in this series are all Ira, but a few are divided between Ira and the clone, and the clone did a few entire stories too. Later, after Ira stopped working on stories in this series, the main letterer was Stan Starkman for a while, then Gaspar Saladino.

Here’s a typical Schnapp-lettered page from JERRY LEWIS #53, which soon veered into more fanciful storylines than when Martin was aboard.

Ira also often lettered one or two-page fillers for this book with art by Mort Drucker, such as this example from issue #70. Not all of them have enough lettering for me to be sure they’re by Ira, but most do, and Drucker and Schnapp had worked side-by-side in the DC production department for a few years, so it’s likely they would have enjoyed working together when possible.

The first page of Ira’s final story lettering for this title in issue #83 from 1964. As with BOB HOPE, the stories now had titles and chapter markings, which DC now saw as something to promote, even though they’d always been present in this series.

Here are the stories and features lettered by Ira Schnapp. All stories feature Martin & Lewis (or just Lewis from issue #41 on) unless otherwise noted. I’ve kept the chapter page counts separate until late in the run when they began to be numbered as one long story.

#1 July/Aug 1952: 8pp, 10pp, 8pp

#2 Sept/Oct 1952: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp, Kitty Karr 6pp, The Martin & Lewis Story 3pp

#3 Nov/Dec 1952: 8pp, 10pp, 8pp, Kitty Karr 7pp

#4 Jan/Feb 1953: 10pp, 8pp, 10pp, Kitty Karr 4pp

#5 March/April 1953: 6pp, 10pp, 10pp

#6 May/June 1953: 8pp, 10pp, 9pp, Kitty Karr 5pp

#7 July/Aug 1953: 8pp, 10pp, 9pp, Tips to Teens 2pp, Willy 4pp

#8 Sept/Oct 1953: 8pp, 10pp, 8pp, Rusty 5pp

#9 Nov/Dec 1953: 8pp, 10pp, 9pp, Hubie 6pp

#10 Jan 1954: 8pp, 10pp, 10pp, Willy 6pp

#11 Feb 1954: 8pp, 10pp, 10pp

#12 April 1954: 8pp, 10pp, 10pp

#13 May 1954: 8pp, 10pp (chapters 1-2), Willy 6pp

#14 July 1954: 8pp, 10pp, 10pp, Kitty Karr 4pp

#15 Aug 1954: 8pp, 10pp, 10pp, Datewise 2pp, Kitty Karr 3pp

#16 Oct 1954: 8pp, 10pp, 10pp

#17 Nov 1954: 8pp, 10pp (chapters 1-2)

#18 Jan 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#19 Feb 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#20 April 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#21 May 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#22 July 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp, Liz 5pp

#23 Aug 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#24 Oct 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp, Pam 3pp

#25 Nov 1955: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#26 Jan 1956: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#27 Feb 1956: 6pp, 8pp, 8pp, Liz 4pp

#28 April 1956: 6pp, 8pp, 8pp

#29 May 1956: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp, Date Duds 2pp

#30 July 1956: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#31 Aug 1956: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#32 Oct 1956: 8pp, 6pp (chapters 2-3)

#33 Nov 1956: 6pp, 8pp, 8pp

#34 Jan 1957: 8pp, 8pp (chapters 1-2), Buzzy 4pp

#35 Feb 1957: 8pp, 8pp (chapters 1-2)

#36 April 1957: 8pp, 8pp (chapters 1-2)

#37 May 1957: 6pp, 8pp, 8pp, Tommy 6pp

#38 July 1957: 6pp (chapter 3)

#39 Aug 1957: 8pp, 6pp (chapters 2-3)

#40 Oct 1957: 8pp, 6pp (chapters 2-3)

#41 Nov 1957: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#42 Jan 1958: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#43 Feb 1958: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp, Tips to Teens 2pp

#44 April 1958: 8pp (chapter 3), Fittin’ Thing 2pp

#45 May 1958: 8pp, 8pp, 8pp

#46 July 1958: 8pp, 8pp, 10pp, Tips to Teens 2pp

#47 Aug 1958: 8pp, 10pp, 8pp

#48 Oct 1958: 10pp, 8pp, 8pp, Fittin’ Thing 2pp

#49 Nov 1958: 8pp, 8pp, 10pp

#50 Jan/Feb 1959: Tips to Teens 2pp

#51 March/April 1959: 6pp, 12pp, 8pp

#53 July/Aug 1959: 26pp, Fittin’ Thing 2pp

#54 Sept/Oct 1959: 26pp

#55 Nov/Dec 1959: 26pp, Music Music Music 1pp

#56 Jan/Feb 1960: 26pp, Young Ideas 1pp

#57 March/April 1960: 26pp, Teen’s Eye View 1pp

#58 May/June 1960: 26pp, Beat Nick 1pp

#59 July/Aug 1960: 26pp, On The Beach 1pp, Beat Nick 1pp

#60 Sept/Oct 1960: 26pp

#61 Nov/Dec 1960: 26pp, Teen Age 1pp

#62 Jan/Feb 1961: 26pp

#63 March/April 1961: 26pp

#64 May/June 1961: 26pp, Teen Beat 1pp, Teen Age 1pp

#65 July/Aug 1961: 26pp, Teen Age 1pp

#66 Sept/Oct 1961: 26pp

#67 Nov/Dec 1961: 26pp, Teen Beat 1pp, Teens through the Ages 1pp

#69 March/April 1962: 26pp, Polka-dot Kid 1pp

#70 May/June 1962: 26pp, Beau Teen 1pp, Teen Age 1pp

#71 July/Aug 1962: 26pp, Teen Dictionary 1pp

#72 Sept/Oct 1962: 26pp

#73 Nov/Dec 1962: 26pp, Lola 1pp

#74 Jan/Feb 1963: 26pp, Beat Nick 1pp

#75 March/April 1963: 26pp, Beat Nick 1pp

#76 May/June 1963: 26pp

#77 July/Aug 1963: Kid Stuff 1pp

#78 Sept/Oct 1963: 26pp, Teen Age Views 1pp

#79 Nov/Dec 1963: 26pp

#80 Jan/Feb 1964: 8pp (chapter 2)

#81 March/April 1964: 26pp

#82 May/June 1964: 26pp

#83 July/Aug 1964: 25pp

That’s a total of 2,002 pages on this series, an impressive number, especially if you add the covers. More articles in this series are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Jerry Lewis (with and without Dean Martin) on Wikipedia.

The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on Wikipedia.

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.