Ira Schnapp in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA

Images © DC Comics

Following the success of his revamp of DC Comics’ Golden Age character The Flash, editor Julius Schwartz did the same thing with Green Lantern, and then thought of teaming all the best DC heroes together in one comic, as had been done in the 1940s in ALL-STAR COMICS with The Justice Society of America. The new team first appeared in a three issue tryout in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28-30. Long-time DC heroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman teamed with the 1950s creation J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, and Julie’s new versions of Flash and Green Lantern. The book sold well and was soon in its own title.

The first issue is dated Oct/Nov 1960, and the series was one of the most popular and successful of the sixties. It ran to issue #261 in 1987, and has been revived several times since. The excellent logo created by Ira Schnapp for the SHOWCASE issues continued on the new series for several years. Ira lettered this and nearly all subsequent covers until issue #62 in 1968. Nearly all inside stories during that time were lettered by Gaspar Saladino, with just two by Schnapp at the end of his time at the company. Unlike many comics of the time, this cover is very quiet and passive, but I found it fascinating as a young reader. Note there’s no issue number. Fans then were not yet putting a high value on first issues, and places that sold comics didn’t want them, as their racks were already full, so DC sidestepped the problem by leaving it off.

Ira’s caption for the second issue has an unusual and interesting style for SINISTER SORCERERS. Though the characters worked together on the covers, inside they often worked in pairs much of the time, making it easier to tell a story.

Through it’s history, the Justice League periodically welcomed new members. The first was Green Arrow as seen on issue #4 from 1961.

Issue #7 has some unusually rounded and bouncy lettering by Schnapp on the words FUN-HOUSE MIRROR that I like.

Issue #9 told the origin of the team for the first time. Note that Superman and Batman were not featured on covers early on perhaps to give the rest of the team a chance to shine.

Issue #14 saw the addition of The Atom, another Schwartz revamp. In the Schnapp caption, Ira does a tiny version of his Atom logo.

In THE FLASH #123, Schwartz had brought together the Golden Age and Silver Age versions of the character in one story. It was a hit, so in this book he brought back the entire Justice Society of America, as the Schnapp caption says, for the first time in twelve years. From here on, Golden Age characters were liable to turn up anywhere, and there was a yearly crossover story with them in this book. The idea of both teams alive and well on Earths of different dimensions was one fans liked, and the concept of the Multiverse came into comics.

Ira had some extra sign work to do on this cover for issue #28 in 1964, and he handled it well.

Hawkman joined the team with issue #31. I like Ira’s electric style in the left caption for the word ELECTRIFYING.

Issue #38 from 1965 was another crossover with The Justice Society, and it began a new tradition in cover layouts with character heads down each side. This made more sense than trying to get them all in one drawing, and also made for interesting comparisons. Lots of Schnapp lettering here.

Issue #39 was the first of the 80-PAGE GIANT series incorporated into the title it featured, as would be the standard practice afterward. Like all the Giants, it was reprints inside with a new cover. Look at all the lettering Ira had to do here, but at least the design left room for it. I like the top blurb, “The Ultimate Utmost in Comic Magazines!”

Issue #43 saw the introduction of a new Schnapp logo. The shield frame was gone, and the title letters were a little wider and had telescoping drop shadows to add depth. Not bad, but I never liked it as much as the first logo.

By issue #46 from 1966, DC and the country were swept up in the publicity over the Batman TV show, where large comic-book sound effects were flashed on the screen during fight scenes. I think that’s the reason they’re used here. Ira might have inked them, but they were probably drawn by the penciller, Mike Sekowsky.

I’m not sure why I like the lettering on issue #51, but I do. Ira had a rare chance to use a large letter Z for one thing.

Ira’s final cover lettering for the series was on issue #62 from 1968. His handling of the word PANIC here suggests he was looking at the work of Gaspar Saladino, who would take over the job from here on.

These covers have Ira Schnapp lettering: 1-24, 26-32, 34-36, 38-47, 50-53, 55-58, 61-62. That’s 54 in all.

Gaspar Saladino was the regular story letterer for this title, only missing a few issues in the run covered here, but surprisingly, Ira Schnapp lettered two full issues probably not long before he left the company in 1968. Issue #61, above, has a handsome story title by Ira.

Issue #62 may have been one of the last things Schnapp worked on before being retired by DC. His lettering looks about the same to me as what he’d been doing since the late 1940s at least. Here are the details of the work:

JLA #61 March 1968: 23pp

JLA #62 23pp

That’s 46 pages in all for this title lettered by Schnapp.

More articles like this are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Justice League of America on Wikipedia.

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