Ira Schnapp in HOWIE and HARVEY

Images © DC Comics

This post looks at two short-lived teen humor titles from DC published in the early 1950s. They were already publishing A DATE WITH JUDY, BUZZY, and LEAVE IT TO BINKY in this genre, and these were attempts to expand in that area that did not sell well enough to last long. HOWIE was drawn in California by animator Owen Fitzgerald, who was already doing THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE and other DC humor work. HARVEY was probably handled completely in New York. Whitney Ellsworth is the editor of record on both, as on all DC titles at the time, but the actual editing was probably handled by Jack Schiff or Larry Nadle. HOWIE ran 18 issues, HARVEY only seven.

Ira Schnapp was the the main and almost the only letterer on both titles’ covers and stories. I don’t think he designed the logo for HOWIE, though, as it doesn’t look like his work, so perhaps that was done by artist Owen Fitzgerald or someone else in California. HERE’S HOWIE COMICS ran from Jan/Feb 1952 to Nov/Dec 1954. COMICS was added to the logo and indicia with issue #2.

With issue #2 we see a familiar Ira Schnapp word balloon. They appeared on nearly all the remaining covers. Howie began as a typical teen humor title with Howie and his friends in high school and on dates.

That must not have been selling, so with issue #5 later in 1952, Howie and his friend Melvin were drafted, and the book became a soldier-in-training humor title along the lines, perhaps, of Mort Walker’s comic strip “Beetle Bailey,” but with more dating and romance. To spell it out, Ira added a new top line in a banner. I don’t know if that increased sales, but the book did last another year and a half.

Issue #13 has a large Ira Schnapp sign in addition to his word balloon.

The final issue, #18, features a spelling joke in the Schnapp word balloon and a few signs too. Here are the covers lettered by Ira: 2-3, 5-18, that’s 16 in all.

Inside issue #1, Ira’s lettering filled balloon shapes by artist Fitzgerald, as was the method at the time with West Coast artists. These balloon shapes work pretty well, so perhaps Fitzgerald had learned from earlier work.

A regular second feature was Winnie the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) also drawn by Fitzgerald.

Howie’s friend Melvin also headlined some stories like this one in issue #12, again drawn by Fitzgerald. Note that Ira Schnapp has used the older style of marks around the word GULP in the first panel, dashed parentheses.

A story from the final issue, #18. The placement of the lettering in the second balloon in panel 2 is odd. I think Ira was asked to make room for the balloon border to be moved up and the art extended, but that wasn’t done.

Here are the stories lettered by Ira Schnapp on this title. There are usually at least two Howie stories, so I’ve numbered them.

#1 Jan/Feb 1952: Howie 8pp, 4pp, 6pp (1-3), Melvin 4pp

#2 March/April 1952: Howie 8pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-3) Melvin 4pp, Fittin’ Thing 2pp

#3 May/June 1952: Howie 8pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 4pp, Date Duds 2pp

#4 July/Aug 1952: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 5pp, Date Duds 2pp, Coby 3pp

#5 Sept/Oct 1952: Howie 6pp, 6pp, 4pp (1-3), Melvin 5pp, Winnie 5pp

#6 Nov/Dec 1952: Howie 6pp, 7pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 6pp

#7 Jan/Feb 1953: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2) Melvin 6pp, Winnie 4pp

#8 March/April 1953: Howie 6pp, 5pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 4pp

#9 May/June 1953: Howie 6pp (2), Winnie 5pp, Melvin 5pp

#10 July/Aug 1953: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 5pp

#11 Sept/Oct 1953: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 6pp

#12 Nov/Dec 1953: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 6pp

#13 Jan/Feb 1954: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 5pp

#14 March/April 1954: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 6pp

#15 May/June 1954: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 6pp

#16 July/Aug 1954: Howie 6pp, 5pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 6pp

#17 Sept/Oct 1954: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Melvin 6pp, Winnie 5pp

#18 Nov/Dec 1954: Howie 6pp, 6pp (1-2), Winnie 6pp

That’s a total of 406 pages.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS TO HARVEY ran just seven issues from this first one in 1953 to the last in 1954. It focused on Harvey’s dating adventures and problems at home, like similar teen humor titles. The first issue cover and inside stories are credited to Bob Oksner, most of the rest aren’t credited on the Grand Comics Database. I think this logo is by Ira Schnapp, as is the word balloon. Ira lettered all the covers and almost all of the stories.

Issue #2 has an attempt, perhaps, to interest science fiction fans in this high school play.

The final issue, #7, has a cover with an unusually oval balloon shape by Ira Schnapp. To repeat myself, Schnapp lettered covers on issues #1-7.

Here’s the first page of the first issue with typical Ira Schnapp lettering and balloon shapes, supporting the idea that the book used local New York artists like Bob Oksner, allowing Ira to do his lettering on pencilled pages.

The lettering on this two-page feature in issue #5 is by Ira, but not the title, which is probably by the artist, or is picked up from some earlier example of this feature by another letterer.

The first page of the final issue with art that does not look like Oksner, though I have no guesses as to who did it. Ira’s lettering at least was consistent! In a few early issues, the Harvey stories were continued in three chapters labeled as separate stories, as was done in THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE.

Here are the stories lettered by Ira Schnapp. Harvey had at three or more stories in each issue, so are numbered.

#1 Sept/Oct 1953: Harvey 8pp, 8pp, 6pp (1-3) Coby 3pp

#2 Nov/Dec 1953: Harvey 8pp, 8pp, 6pp (1-3), Willy 3pp

#3 Jan/Feb 1954: Harvey 8pp, 8pp, 6pp (1-3), Tips to Teens 2pp

#4 March/April 1954: Harvey 6pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-3)

#5 May/June 1954: Harvey 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-4), Tips to Teens 2pp

#6 July/Aug 1954: Harvey 6pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-3), Willy 5pp

#7 Sept/Oct 1954: Harvey 6pp, 6pp, 6pp, 6pp (1-4)

That’s a total of 165 pages on this title.

More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Owen Fitzgerald info.

Bob Oksner on Wikipedia.

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