Ira Schnapp in METAMORPHO and TEEN TITANS

Images © DC Comics

Early in 1964, DC introduced one of their weirdest heroes in a two-issue tryout in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #57-58. Rex Maxon becomes transformed by radiation from an Egyptian artifact and has the ability to become any element in the human body, but can no longer take on his original human form, making him a misfit in his own eyes. The tryout had a logo designed by Ira Schnapp that was divided between normal block letters and a kind of lava-like mush that’s a bit hard to read and not very appealing visually, at least to me. The subtitle, THE ELEMENT MAN is clear enough, at least. His tryout and short-lived series was edited by George Kashdan, and the character would have a long history at DC.

When his series began with a July/Aug 1965 cover date, the same logo was used with an added head shot. I’m not sure who did the cover lettering on this issue. Parts of it could be by Schnapp, other parts I’m not sure about. I guess I will credit it to Ira, since I have no other ideas, but possibly someone else had a hand in it.

Issue #2 is definitely lettered by Ira, who would go on to do the same on many of the covers.

By issue #4 from 1966 we are into the period of too much cover lettering across the DC line, but Ira makes it work pretty well here, and even adds a fine sound effect.

Issue #6 includes a Schnapp sign on the truck among other cover lettering.

Issue #15 from 1967 has the final Schnapp cover lettering for this unusual series. These are the covers lettered by Ira: 1-5, 8, 11-12, 14-15. That’s ten in all.

Ira lettered just one 23-page story for issue #15, first page above, with a title in one of his familiar styles. Many of the others were lettered by Stan Starkman.

I believe Ira also lettered this two-page pinup used in issue #16 as a center-spread, with Ira’s script on the second page.

Another series developed by editor George Kashdan was the Teen Titans, made up of four teen sidekicks. The idea developed gradually with tryouts in issues #54 and 60 of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD and issue #59 of SHOWCASE. Ira’s logo was created for the second of those, above, using his standard block letters with a telescoped drop shadow. The feature was successful in its own book, which ran to 53 issues, but later versions were even more popular.

The first issue of the new series began in 1966 with a large burst at the top, and more of the somewhat clueless language often used on DC covers in an attempt to appeal to young readers. Where Stan Lee succeeded with this at Marvel, DC usually failed. Ira would letter many of the covers to issue #13, but no stories inside, which where often lettered by Stan Starkman.

Issue #3 has more large Schnapp bursts and a few signs.

Issue #7 presents another large caption by Ira and a well-crafted sign, but both are full of that cringe-worthy trying-to-be-hip language.

Issue #8 does better with a more serious approach and some nice loudspeaker bursts by Ira.

The best of Ira’s cover lettering on this title, in my opinion, was saved for his final effort on issue #13 from 1968, where he was able to use one of his most artful Old English styles in the Christmas wreath. These covers have Schnapp lettering: 1-3, 5, 7-9, 11-13. That’s ten in all.

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

Metamorpho on Wikipedia.

Teen Titans on Wikipedia.

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