Ira Schnapp in FEATURE FILMS, MELODY LANE and DANGER TRAIL

All images © DC Comics

This time I’m covering three short-lived titles that started in 1950 with only one making it to 1951. First up is FEATURE FILMS running four issues, the first issue cover is above. This was an attempt to make comics of new film releases much the way Dell Comics often did in their FOUR COLOR series, but DC does not seem to have found a market. All the covers used photos from the films, while all the inside pages were typical comics. The editor of record was Whitney Ellsworth, as with the entire DC line then, I don’t know who actually edited. While the first issue title was as shown above, for the other issues it was FEATURE FILMS MAGAZINE. The logo, movie title and words PRESENTS and STARRING all look like the work of Ira Schnapp to me. The type of fake Chinese used in the film title was common then, and disliked by Asians today. The film choice seems odd for DC, though the list of actors includes some good ones.

The second issue at least features a popular star familiar to kids from films and radio. The musical film was good, though not really a comedy, and perhaps not one many kids would have seen. I don’t know who lettered the words BING CROSBY here, but it wasn’t Schnapp. Probably someone else on staff at DC.

Issue #3, on the other hand, has very handsome title and caption lettering by Ira that really helps sell this cover. It was a Western, so more likely to appeal to kids, too, especially ones already buying DC Western comics.

Issue #4, the final one, is almost all type except for the design around the title. It was the only issue to have a backup story/second feature. This film stars Bob Hope, whose bimonthly DC comic was just getting underway, and seems a good bet to appeal to the same audience, but for whatever reason, sales were not good, and the book was cancelled. Aside from the logo I would count this as two covers lettered by Schnapp, #1 and #3.

Ira did no story lettering on the first issue, but put his stamp on the others. Here’s a page from issue #2. Ira did not do the first introductory page, but lettered the rest of the story.

This page from issue #3 features some of Ira’s script lettering in the last panel.

And issue #4 brings Ira into familiar territory, as he was lettering nearly every issue of Bob Hope’s own comic. Here are the numbers for Ira’s story lettering on this title:

#2 May/June 1950: 34pp

#3 July/Aug 1950: 32pp

#4 Sept/Oct 1950: Fancy Pants 26pp, Golden Gloves 7pp

That’s 99 pages in all.

DC tried this companion title to MISS BEVERLY HILLS OF HOLLYWOOD for three issues, probably also edited by Larry Nadle. The logo is similar to that one and by Ira Schnapp. It leaves a lot of open space at the top, but is otherwise nicely done. All the other cover copy on this series was type.

Ira lettered most of the stories inside too. Many were short Melody Lane pieces like this one from issue #1.

Another short feature in each issue was this one, giving Ira a chance to add some nice display lettering at the top of the first page. As always, Ira’s small lettering helped out with heavy dialogue as in the last panel.

Here are the numbers for Schnapp’s work on the title, all stories feature Melody Lane unless otherwise noted:

#1 Feb/March 1950: 9pp, 6pp, 3pp, 8pp, 8pp, Stars Over Broadway 2pp

#2 April/May 1950: 10pp, 6pp, 4pp, 5pp, 5pp, Stars Over Broadway 3pp

#3 June/July 1950: 6pp, 7pp, 5pp, 7pp, Stars Over Broadway 2pp

That’s a total of 96 pages on this book.

DANGER TRAIL was an attempt by DC to enter the secret agent/suspense/thriller arena. The lead story featured agent King Faraday created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, and the book was edited by Julius Schwartz. Despite these credentials, it didn’t last long, just five issues. Additional King Faraday stories appeared in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS when this title ended. The logo is by Ira Schnapp using his standard block letters, and despite the name, the logo is sedate and bland. This may have been an attempt to look like a paperback book, I don’t know. The rest of the cover lettering on this and all five issues is also by Ira, and since there are only a few, I’ll show them all.

An alternate title was considered, and DC had Schnapp do a logo for this ashcan edition, which was sent to the U.S. Copyright Office to secure rights to the name. A similar one was probably made for DANGER TRAIL, but is not in public hands. This ashcan was found on the Heritage Auction site, ha.com, where it sold in 2002. The word TRAIL is the same, but MYSTERY is new. I like the choice of DANGER TRAIL better, as it’s more what the book is about. As with all ashcans, whatever art was on hand was used, but here they used the art for DANGER TRAIL #3, which must have been done well ahead.

I find these covers appealing and might have bought them if I was of buying age. Here the caption at lower right should have been also made white, it’s hard to read.

Issue #3 removes the border around the logo box, which I don’t think has much impact.

I like the bubbles over the logo in issue #4. The gray wash tones suggest it was colored by Jack Adler, they probably all were.

The final issue has a new and more exciting logo by Ira, though the word TRAIL gets lost at the bottom. It features a new lead, but this is not the same Johnny Peril who appeared in other DC titles. In addition to his usual caption, Ira had the chance to add some fine poster lettering.

Most of the story lettering on the series is by Gaspar Saladino, but Ira Schnapp did letter one story in the last issue:

#5 March/April 1951: Safari to Nowhere 10pp

That’s the extent of Ira’s involvement in these titles. More in this series can be found on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

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