LEADING COMICS began with a Winter 1942-43 issue as a home for a new super-team along the lines of the Justice Society, but using second-tier heroes that were not in that team. It followed the model of JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA in that it was broken into chapters each featuring one or two heroes. The lettering seems to have been done by one person for each issue usually, at least as far as the main story goes. With issue #15 dated Summer 1945, the book made a sharp turn into funny animals instead of superheroes, and continued as such until 1955, changing its name to LEADING SCREEN COMICS along the way. I think Ira Schnapp was involved with the first format for a time, and then was the main letterer on covers and stories for the humor format from 1946 to 1950. He continued to do some work on the book after that until it folded. The only editor of record on the first format is Whitney Ellsworth. When it turned to humor, the editors were Bernie Breslauer and then Larry Nadle. I’ll look at Ira’s work on covers first.
Many early covers of this series used only type. The first cover I think has lettering by Schnapp is issue #10 dated Spring 1944. What convinces me are the adept Old English word WARRANT and the script signature with the alternate version of the letter E that Ira often used. Some of the smallest lettering is done with a wedge-tipped pen, not something Schnapp did later, but you’ll find other examples below.
Issue #12 is also by Schnapp. The caption is not much like his later cover lettering, but it does look like other cover work from this early period, and the style of the numbers in the signs is also something he would do.
Issue #13 has more familiar Schnapp lettering styles from the 1940s in the caption.
Issue #14 from 1945 has styles in the caption that Ira was using at the time, again not so much like his later cover lettering, but you can see similarities especially in FROM THE.
With issue #15, Summer 1945, the book switched to funny animals, and this one is full of Ira’s lettering. He even lettered the issue number, price and date. Some of this work is again not much like his later, more familiar cover styles, but it does match other cover work from the time.
Issue #16’s caption is looking more familiar, especially the word Featuring, which would appear on many issues.
You could say that the large square-cornered words in this first balloon are not like Schnapp, but he did do this on other covers of the time, and the regular letters show his style points such as the slightly up-curved right leg of each R and his small distinctive question mark.
Lots of interesting lettering by Ira on the cover of issue #19.
With issue #23 dated Feb-March 1947, the character lineup changed and Peter Porkchops became the new lead feature, as lettered by Schnapp.
Some of the covers had no lettering or only reused Ira’s “Featuring” blurb, but this one does have his work on the cookie jar. Note the word SCREEN has been added to the logo, but the official name of the comic didn’t change in the indicia until issue #45.
By issue #38 from 1949 Ira’s word balloon style was getting closer to the familiar one he would use for many years after this.
Another example from 1950, but after this most of the covers had no lettering for a while.
With issue #62 from 1953 on, most of the covers once again had Schnapp word balloons like this one on issue #70.
The final issue instead has a Schnapp thought balloon, not common on this series.
Here are the issues I see Ira’s cover lettering on: 10, 12-29, 34, 38-40, 42, 48, 54, 62-67, 69-71, 73-77, that’s 40 in all.
Above is a page and enlarged panel from a chapter in issue #4. I don’t think it’s by Schnapp. For instance, the question mark style is different, I’m showing it as an example of the style being used. Letters were made with a wedge-tipped pen giving wider and narrower lines depending on the direction of the stroke.
One thing I’ve learned recently about early Schnapp work is that he was not only a quick study but also a good mimic. I think he lettered issue #6 dated Spring 1943. The title on the first page is very much in Ira’s Old English style even though the rest of the lettering is not much like what he did later.
This panel from later in the story has a typical Schnapp question mark, though there are very few question marks in this series. I think Ira was doing his best to imitate the previous letterer, including using a wedge-tipped pen.
The Shining Knight chapter from issue #7 has a logo that is very much something Ira would have done. Story/character logos changed a lot at this time, often redone for each issue, but I can’t imagine anyone else taking the time and having the skill for this one.
The chapter title on this page from issue #8 is also one I see Ira’s hand in.
And on the final story page of issue #8 we have THE END in a style the Schnapp often used at the time on Superman stories.
The Shining Knight chapter in issue #9 again has a story logo that I believe is by Schnapp, and the lettering is now starting to look more like his work at this time even with the wedge-tipped pen.
A later panel from that issue has typical Schnapp question marks: small with a double bend something like the number 2 over a period.
On issue #11, there’s no doubt that Schnapp is lettering. No one else did a G like the one in KNIGHT, and even the story title is typical for him at the time.
On issue 13, the lettering is in a style much more like what I’d expect from Schnapp at this early time in his career at DC. The pen used has a dead line, no thick and thin variations, and the letters are similar to what he was doing elsewhere.
The Shining Knight chapter from the same issue has a character logo and story title very much in styles Ira used, and the rest of the lettering is convincingly his to me, though different from what he would be doing a year or two later. Ira was not lettering every issue of the series at this point, but he did several of them.
With issue #15, dated Summer 1945, Ira became the main letterer for a few years, sometimes lettering every story. Schnapp seemed to like working on humor comics, he did lots of them, and why not? They generally had less words than other genres, and were entertaining to read. The four images above are just some of the new features that began in issue #15 lettered by Ira.
This one began in issue #17 dated Winter 1945 (the second issue with that date, but meaning 1945-46 in this case). Ira’s lettering was becoming more consistent and wider, and note the letter R with a slightly up-curved right leg and his tiny angular question marks. This is very close to what he was doing on the Superman newspaper strip at the time.
With issue #23 dated Feb-March 1947, some of the features were dropped and new ones introduced like these two, which would remain on the roster for some years in this and other funny animal titles like ANIMAL ANTICS. From this point forward, other letterers worked on one or more stories in each issue.
The new lead character was Peter Porkchops, and Ira first lettered him on this story in issue #24. Peter P was popular, and soon appeared in two stories in each issue. Later he would get his own title.
One of the best things Ira worked on in this book was Doodles Duck stories with great art by Howard Post, initially in the style of Walt Kelly, though he moved away from that later. This one is from issue #29.
This Lippy Leprechaun story in issue #39, Oct-Nov 1949, has Schnapp lettering that is now looking like what he would do for the rest of his career. The letters are less wide, most would fit into a square. From 1950 to 1954 Ira did less than half the stories in most issues, but he returned in force for the last few issues in 1955.
Here’s the lead Peter Porkchops story from issue #56, dated Aug-Sept 1952, lettered by Ira.
Some stories in this series were written and drawn by Sheldon Mayer, who often did his own sound effects, balloon shapes and larger display lettering. This was probably a time-saver for Mayer, and even though it’s a collaboration of sorts, I include those stories in Ira’s lettering totals.
Here are the stories lettered by Ira Schnapp in LEADING. Peter Porkchops (hereafter Pork) often had two stories, so they’re numbered where Ira did only one. Feature names are abbreviated after their first appearance.
#6 Spring 1943: Seven chapters, entire main story 56pp
#7 Summer 1943: 54pp
#8 Fall 1943: 50pp
#9 Winter 1943: 46pp
#11 Summer 1944 40pp
#13 Winter 1945 (should be 1944): 40pp
#15 Summer 1945: King Oscar’s Court 8pp, Spylot Bones 7pp, Frankie and Fanny Flipper 6pp, Jumpin Juniper 2pp, Hugo Hornspred 5pp, Pelican Pete 4pp, Nero Fox 10pp, Patch 1pp
#16 Fall 1945: NF 10pp, SB 7pp, JJ 2pp, FFF 6pp, PPete 4pp, HH 5pp KOC 8pp
#17 Winter 1945: NF 8pp, PPete 4pp, Salty the Sailor 6pp, Tee for Two 1pp, HH 6pp, Fish Story 1pp, SB 7pp, KOC 8pp
#18 April-May 1946: NF 8pp, STS 6pp, JJ 3pp, HH 5pp, PPete 4pp, Patch 1pp, SB 7pp, KOC 8pp
#19 June-July 1946: NF 8pp, STS 6pp, HH 5pp, JJ 2pp, SB 7pp, The Showoff 1pp, Hungry Wolf 1pp, PPete 4pp, KOC 8pp
#20 Aug-Sept 1946: NF 8pp, HH 5pp, STS 6pp, JJ 2pp, SB 7pp, Inflated Trouble 1pp, PPete 4pp, KOC 8pp
#21 Oct-Nov 1946: NF 8pp, SB 7pp, STS 6pp, HH 5pp, PPete 4pp, KOC 8pp
#22 Dec 1946-Jan 1947: NF 8pp, SB 7pp, STS 6pp, JJ 2pp, HH 5pp, Practice Makes Perfect 1pp, PPete 4pp, KOC 8pp, Truthful Tim 1pp
#23 Feb-March 1947: Puss & Pooch 8pp, Roly & Poly 6pp, JJ 2pp, STS 6pp, PPete 4pp, Crazy Like A Fox 5pp, Bippy 1pp
#24 April-May 1947: Peter Porkchops 6pp, P&P 8pp, Doodles Duck 5pp, R&P 6pp, JJ 2pp, STS 6pp, PPete 4pp, CFox 5pp
#25 June-July 1947: Pork 6pp, Tortoise & Hare 6pp, DooD 5pp, R&P 6pp, Benny Bear 1pp, P&P 7pp, Pork 6pp
#26 Aug-Sept 1947: Pork 6pp, DooD 5pp, T&H 6pp, PPete 4pp, R&P 6pp, Pork 6pp
#27 Oct-Nov 1947: Pork 6pp, DooD 5pp, R&P 6pp, T&H 6pp, PPete 4pp, Pork 6pp
#28 Dec 1947-Jan 1948: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, T&H 1pp, DooD 5pp, Kanga Rudy 2pp, T&H 6pp, Dusty & Rusty 1pp, Pork 6pp
#29 Feb-March 1948: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, D&R 1pp, PPete 4pp, DooD 5pp, T&H 6pp, Zeke 1pp, Pork 6pp
#30 April-May 1948: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, DooD 5pp, Walrus Whopper 5pp, T&H 6pp, Pork 6pp, Papa Knows Best 1pp
#31 June-July 1948: Pork 7pp, R&P 6pp, KR 2pp, DooD 5pp, Pork 7pp
#32 Aug-Sept 1948: Pork 6pp, DooD 5pp, T&H 6pp, Brownie 1pp, R&P 6pp
#33 Oct-Nov 1948: Pork 6pp, DooD 5pp, R&P 6pp, T&H 6pp
#34 Dec 1948-Jan 1949: Pork 6pp, P&P 6pp, R&P 6pp, DooD 5pp, T&H 5pp
#35 Feb-March 1949: Pork 6pp, P&P 7pp, R&P 7pp, DooD 6pp, Rusty Rhino 1pp, T&H 6pp
#36 April-May 1949: Pork 8pp, P&P 8pp, T&H 6pp, DooD 6pp, R&P 6pp
#37 June-July 1949: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, DooD 6pp, T&H 7pp, P&P 6pp
#38 Aug-Sept 1949: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, T&H 6pp, Ozzie Owl 5pp, P&P 7pp
#39 Oct-Nov 1949: Pork 6pp, T&H 7pp, P&P 7pp, Plato Platypus 6pp, R&P 5pp, Lippy Leprechaun 6 pp
#40 Dec 1949-Jan 1950: Pork 6pp, J. Rufus Lion 7pp, R&P 7pp, Little Ozzie 1pp, P&P 7pp
#41 Feb-March 1950: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, Rufus 7pp, T&H 7pp, Dodo and the Frog 2pp, P&P 8pp
#42 April-May 1950: Rufus 7pp, P&P 5pp
#43 June-July 1950: Pork 6pp, R&P 6pp, P&P 6pp
#44 Aug-Sept 1950: T&H 6pp, Buff & Bobo 6pp, Pork 7pp (2)
#45 Oct-Nov 1950: P&P 6pp, R&P 7pp
#46 Dec 1950-Jan 1951: P&P 6pp, Dizzy Dog 6pp
#47 Feb-March 1951: P&P 6pp, Dizzy 6pp
#48 April-May 1951: P&P 7pp, DooD 6pp, T&H 6pp
#49 June-July 1951: Rufus 5pp
#50 Aug-Sept 1951: R&P 5pp
#52 Dec 1951-Jan 1952: Pork 5pp, P&P 6pp, Pork 4pp
#53 Feb-March 1952: Pork (1) 6pp
#54 April-May 1952: T&H 5pp
#55 June-July 1952: Pork (1) 6pp, P&P 4pp, Bo Bunny 6pp
#56 Aug-Sept 1952: Pork (1) 6pp R&P 5pp, Dizzy 6pp, Nip & Chip 4pp
#57 Oct-Nov 1952: Pork (1) 6pp, R&P 4pp
#58 Dec 1952-Jan 1953: Pork (1) 6pp
#59 Feb-March 1953: Custer Cat and Cheesy Mouse 5pp
#60 April-May 1953: P&P 3pp, BoB 6pp
#61 June-July 1953: T&H 4pp
#62 Aug-Sept 1953: Pork (1) 6pp, OO 3pp, N&C 4pp, DooD 6pp
#63 Oct-Nov 1953: DooD 6pp, Blackie Bear 3pp, Pork (2) 4pp
#64 Dec 1953-Jan 1954: Pork 6pp, R&P 4pp, DooD 6pp, Pork 4pp
#65 Feb 1954: Pork (1) 6pp, Dizzy 4pp
#66 March 1954: Dizzy 6pp, Pork (2) 5pp
#67 April 1954: Pork (1) 6pp, N&C 4pp, Pinky & Winky 4pp
#68 June 1954: Pork 6pp, BoB 6pp, Pork 4pp
#69 Aug 1954: Pork 6pp, Dizzy 5pp, BoB 4pp, Pork 4pp
#70 Sept 1954: Pork (1) 6pp, Fraidy Cat 4pp, BoB 6pp
#71 Oct 1954: Pork (1) 6pp, Blackie 4pp, DooD 5pp
#72 Dec 1954: Pork 4pp, DooD 4pp, BoB 4pp, P&W 4pp, Pork 4pp
#73 Feb 1955: BoB 6pp, DooD 5pp, Pork (2) 4pp
#74 March 1955: Pork 6pp, BoB 6pp, Blackie 4pp, Dizzy 5pp, Pork (2) 4pp
#75 April 1955: Pork (1) 6pp, DooD 5pp, Dizzy 5pp, BoB 6pp, Goofy Goose 6pp
#76 June-July 1955: Pork 6pp, DooD 6pp, Blackie 4pp, Pork 6pp
#77 Aug-Sept 1955: Pork (1) 6pp, BoB 6pp
That’s a total of 1,713 pages, lots of work!
Other articles in this series and others you might enjoy can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.
Leading Comics in Wikipedia.