Ira Schnapp in DETECTIVE COMICS Part 2

All images © DC Comics

The earliest story lettering I’ve found that I think is by Ira Schnapp is from issue #94 dated Dec 1944, so created in the fall of 1943. There are some earlier stories that might be lettered by him in a somewhat different style, but I’m not sure about those, so I’ll start here. Boy Commandos was a product of the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby studio, but by this time it was often being written and drawn by others.

A closer look at one panel from the same story. The lettering is done with a dead-line pen rather than a wedge-tipped one, and the letter forms look like Ira’s work. The G has a square right side, the M has vertical sides, the S tends to have a straighter section in the middle, and in general the letters are very even and regular. The question mark is small and angular in the way Ira usually did it. Some the R’s have loops that don’t quite connect to the left leg, something Ira may have picked up from the lettering of Frank Shuster on Superman strips and stories. He moved away from that soon. In all, I’m confident that this is Ira’s lettering.

As was often the case, once Schnapp started working on one feature in an anthology series, he soon began working on others. Editors must have liked his work and offered him more. Batman inker Charles Paris told comics historian Joe Desris that Ira sometimes worked in the DC offices and sometimes at home. While in the offices, he would have come to the attention of all the editors, and he was soon very busy lettering all kinds of stories. This is the first lettering I think he did on this one in issue #95, a short regular humor filler.

In issue #96, Ira also began lettering Slam Bradley, a creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but by this time with writing and art by others. Gradually, Ira took on more of DETECTIVE, until he was soon lettering the majority of the stories.

Issue #100 dated June 1945 has the first Batman story lettered by Schnapp.

Another page from the same story has many of Ira’s style points, including his scalloped balloon shapes that sometimes overlap panel borders to fit things in, his distinctive question marks, and his small, very regular and square letters.

Beginning with issue #113, Ira sometimes lettered the Air Wave feature,. I like his story title and caption border here suggesting electricity.

By this Batman story in issue #131 from 1948, Ira’s letters were getting narrower. Now most would fit into a square. This helped him fit in the expanding amount of words.

Ira began lettering Robotman stories with issue #138. The artist, Jimmy Thompson, was a good letterer himself and probably designed the logo and story title on this one, but perhaps Ira inked them.

Another very wordy page from the Boy Commandos story in issue #147, May 1949. Ira had to letter smaller and narrower to fit everything in.

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Letterers in those days at DC often had an incredible amount of work to do on a page. Here’s a prime example from the Batman and Robin story in issue#161, July 1950. At least half that page is lettering! They weren’t all this bad, but man, I’m sure glad I didn’t have to do it…

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This feature starred Roy Raymond, TV Detective, and the name of the series later changed to that, but in the early stories it was “Impossible But True.” The first one Ira lettered is in issue #173, July 1951. I found a total of nine of them with Schnapp lettering.

tec194-35powwowsmith

DC editors were always trying to fit in features that followed popular trends of the time, particularly in the 1950s when sales were dropping. “Pow-wow Smith, Indian Lawman” combined detective work, indians, and westerns. The only one that Schnapp lettered is in issue #194, above.

tec231_27johnjones

Perhaps the most successful backup feature in DETECTIVE was this one, giving rise to a character still around today, and in the “Supergirl” TV show: J’onn J’onzz. The first one Ira lettered was in issue #231, May 1956. He worked on six total.

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As DETECTIVE came into the 1960s, Ira’s work for inside stories dwindled. This is the last of them, from issue #310, December 1962.

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Written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger, it’s old-fashioned, too wordy, and features the silly character Bat-mite, but…kind of fun in its own way. Ira’s work is looking less skilled here. He was 68, and still doing lots of lettering, but perhaps not as well as he once had. The entire Batman series is looking pretty tired and old-fashioned, and the lettering was an element of that. Less than two years later, in 1964, all the Batman features got a “New Look” with art by Carmine Infantino and lettering by Gaspar Saladino.

Here’s a list of stories I believe are lettered by Ira Schnapp in DETECTIVE. Feature names are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#94 Dec 1944: Boy Commandos 12pp

#95 Jan 1945: 3-Ring Binks 4pp

#96 Feb 1945: Slam Bradley 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 11pp

#97 March 1945: SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 11pp

#98 April 1945: SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 12pp

#99 May 1945: SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 11pp

#100 June 1945: Batman and Robin 12pp, 3RB 4pp, SB 7pp, BC 11pp

#101 July 1945: SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 10pp

#102 Aug 1945: SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 11pp

#103 Sept 1945: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 12pp

#104 Oct 1945: 3RB 4pp, SB 7pp, BC 10pp

#105 Nov 1945: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, 3RB 4pp, BC 11pp

#106 Dec 1945: B&R 11pp, 3RB 4pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#107 Jan 1946: B&R 12pp, 3RB 4pp, SB 7pp, BC 10pp

#108 Feb 1946: SB 7pp, BC 10pp

#109 March 1946: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, BC 11pp

#110 April 1946: B&R 12pp, SB 8pp, BC 12pp

#111 May 1946: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, BC 11pp

#112 June 1946: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#113 July 1946: Air Wave 6pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#114 Aug 1946: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 7pp

#115 Sept 1946: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, 3RB 3pp, BC 12pp

#116 Oct 1946: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 6pp, BC 12pp

#117 Nov 1946: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 7pp

#118 Dec 1946: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp

#119 Jan 1947: SB 7pp, AW 8pp

#120 Feb 1947: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, AW 6pp, Prof Pipp 2pp, BC 13pp

#121 Mar 1947: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, BC 11pp

#122 April 1947: B&R 13pp, SB 7pp, AW 8pp

#123 May 1947: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, BC 11pp, AW 7pp

#124 June 1947: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#125 July 1947: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 6pp, BC 12pp

#126 Aug 1947: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, AW 6pp, BC 12pp

#127 Sept 1947: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, AW 6pp, BC 12pp

#128 Oct 1947: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 7pp

#129 Nov 1947: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#130 Dec 1947: B&R 12pp, AW 6pp, SB 7pp, BC 11pp

#131 Jan 1948: B&R 13pp, SB 6pp, AW 6pp, BC 12pp

#132 Feb 1948: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, AW 6pp, BC 12pp

#133 March 1948: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp

#134 April 1948: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, AW 6pp, 3RB 4pp

#135 May 1948: B&R 12pp, AW 5pp, SB 7pp

#136 June 1948: AW 6pp, SB 7pp

#137 July 1948: AW 6pp, SB 7pp

#138 Aug 1948: Robotman 6pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#139 Sept 1948: RM 6pp, SB 7pp, BC 12pp

#140 Oct 1948: RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#141 Nov 1948: B&R 10pp, RM 6pp, SB 6pp

#142 Dec 1948: B&R 12pp, SB 7pp, RM 6pp

#143 Jan 1949: B&R 12pp, RM 6pp, SB 6pp

#144 Feb 1949: RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#145 March 1949: RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#146 April 1949: RM 6pp, Super-Sleuth McFooey 4pp, SB 6pp

#147 May 1949: SB 7pp, RM 6pp, BC 12pp

#148 June 1949: RM 6pp, SB 6pp, BC 10pp

#149 July 1949: RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#150 Aug 1949: RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#151 Sept 1949: RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#152 Oct 1949: B&R 12pp, RM 6pp, SB 7pp

#153 Nov 1949: B&R 12pp, RM 6pp

#154 Dec 1949: RM 6pp

#155 Jan 1950: B&R 12pp

#156 Feb 1950: B&R 12pp

#157 March 1950: B&R 12pp

#158 April 1950: B&R 12pp, Dover & Clover 4pp

#159 May 1950: B&R 12pp

#160 June 1950: B&R 12pp

#161 July 1950: B&R 12pp

#162 Aug 1950: B&R 12pp

#163 Sept 1950: B&R 12pp

#164 Oct 1950: B&R 12pp

#165 Nov 1950: B&R 12pp

#168 Feb 1951: B&R 13 pp

#169 March 1951: B&R 12pp

#170 April 1951: B&R 12pp

#171 May 1951: B&R 12pp

#172 June 1951: B&R 12pp

#173 July 1951: B&R 12 pp, RM 6 pp, Impossible But True 8 pp

#174 Aug 1951: B&R 12 pp, IBT 8 pp

#175 Sept 1951: B&R 12pp

#176 Oct 1951: B&R 12pp

#177 Nov 1951: B&R 12pp

#178 Dec 1951: B&R 10 pp

#179 Jan 1952: B&R 12pp

#181 March 1952: B&R 12pp

#184 June 1952: B&R 12pp

#186 Aug 1952: B&R 12pp

#187 Sept 1952: B&R 12pp

#188 Oct 1952: B&R 12pp

#189 Nov 1952: B&R 12pp

#190 Dec 1952: B&R 12pp

#191 Jan 1953: IBT 6 pp

#193 March 1953: B&R 12 pp, RM 6 pp

#194 April 1953: Pow-wow Smith 8 pp

#202 Dec 1953: B&R 12 pp

#229 March 1956: B&R 12 pp

#231 May 1956: John Jones 6 pp

#238 Dec 1956: Roy Raymond TV Detective 6 pp

#239 Jan 1957: B&R 12 pp

#241 March 1957: JJ 6 pp

#251 Jan 1958: RR 6 pp

#260 Oct 1958: RR 6pp

#263 Jan 1959: JJ 6pp

#264 Feb 1959: JJ 6pp

#267 May 1959: RR 6 pp

#269 July 1959: B&R 12 pp, RR 6 pp

#280 June 1960: RR 6 pp

#285 Nov 1960: JJ 7 pp

#291 May 1961: RR 6 pp

#303 May 1962: B&R 13pp

#307 Sept 1962: B&R 13pp

#308 Oct 1962: JJ 12 pp

#310 Dec 1962: Batman 13 pp

If my math and my picks are right, that’s 2,109 story pages lettered by Ira Schnapp on this title. Lots of superhero work for Ira! Other articles you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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