Ira Schnapp in MORE FUN COMICS

All images © DC Comics

MORE FUN grew out of one of the first comics published by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, NEW FUN, begun in 1935. The title changed to MORE FUN with issue 7, then MORE FUN COMICS with issue 9 dated March-April 1936. When the Major’s comics were taken over by Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz, MORE FUN continued as the first title published by “Detective Comics, Inc.” now DC Comics. For many years it was an action-adventure anthology containing features of all types, with superheroes gradually filling the pages, including Doctor Occult, The Spectre, Doctor Fate, Congo Bill, Johnny Quick, Green Arrow and Aquaman. The title was edited by Mort Weisinger for a while, with Jack Schiff taking over with issue #83 in 1942. With issue #101 dated Jan.-Feb. 1945, a new feature, Superboy, was introduced, the stories of Superman as a boy. The first cover I see Ira Schnapp lettering on is issue #92 from 1943, above. Ira’s very regular letters appear in the caption, not sure about the War Bonds sign.

The next cover Schnapp lettered is on #100. Some of the styles are not typical for him, but he was using different ones at this early time in his career at DC than he did later.

The caption on issue #101 from 1945 is in one of those early styles that matches the story title on #100. It’s interesting to note that Superboy, who debuted in this comic, is not even mentioned on the cover, an unusual thing even for then!

Superboy was being featured on the cover by issue #104 lettered by Schnapp, though his early look is quite different from the way he appeared by the time of his own solo series in 1949. Surprisingly, the humor feature Dover and Clover by Henry Boltinoff was given the main cover spot.

With issue #108 dated March 1946, all the superhero features moved to ADVENTURE COMICS, and the remaining issues of MORE FUN were mainly filled with humorous stories. Ira continued to letter many of the covers and also the Dover and Clover stories, but not much else, as he followed the superhero features to ADVENTURE.

In some cases, like on issue #120 from 1947, Schnapp lettered the caption, but the word balloon was by the cover artist. I’ll still credit him for those covers.

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Issue #121 dated April 1947 saw the introduction of a fantasy strip, “Jimminy and the Magic Book,” which was the lead feature until the series was cancelled with issue #127 dated Nov-Dec 1947. The lettering on the book might be by Jimminy artist Howard Post, but the caption is by Schnapp. He also did the hard-to-see issue number, price and date at the top. Schnapp and Post seemed to work well together, and Ira lettered the remaining covers except for #124 and #127, which simply repeated a Schnapp blurb.

These are the MORE FUN covers I see Schnapp lettering on: 92, 100-101, 104-123, 125-126. That’s 25 in all.

The first story I think is lettered by Ira is the Johnny Quick one from issue #91, May-June 1943. I only have a poor scan of it, but everything I can make out looks like Ira’s work. If so, it’s one of the earliest stories he lettered.

The Dover and Clover story in issue #99 is lettered with a wedge-tipped pen, and some of the letter shapes are not quite right for Schnapp, but possibly he was using this style at the time. I’ve seen other stories in other titles that are similar. I’m not sure it’s early Ira work using a somewhat different style, but it could be. If that’s right, other stories from around this time might also have his lettering, but since I’m not sure I’m not going to list them. Worthy of further study if I could find better scans.

The first Superboy story from issue #101 is another of these with lettering I’m not sure about, made with a wedge-tipped pen and with some letter shapes not typical of Schnapp. Ira certainly designed the Superboy logo in the style of his Superman one. As I compare this with the lettering of Superboy stories in the next few issues, I feel it’s convincingly by Schnapp, and I’ll call it for him.

This Aquaman story from issue #101 is another I’m not sure about. The letters are more rounded even than the ones in the Superboy story, but again it’s generally similar. Not sure on it, and I won’t call it for Schnapp.

The Aquaman story in issue #102 is more convincing to me as Schnapp lettering, even with the poor image, so I’m going to call this one and some later Aquaman stories for him.

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Here’s a sample from Superboy in issue #103. To me it looks like the same hand as issue #101, but using a dead-line pen rather than a wedge-tipped one.

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A closer look shows a style very much like what Ira was using at the time on the Superman newspaper strip and elsewhere. The letters are wider than what he would settle on a few years later, but generally the shapes are recognizable as his style.

Another example from the Dover and Clover story in issue #105. This is even more like what Ira was doing elsewhere at the time, and he lettered nearly all the D&C stories in this title going forward.

I think Ira also began lettering many of the other superhero features in MORE FUN like this one from issue #105 as well as stories featuring Johnny Quick.

This story page from Superboy in issue #107 is interesting because it uses the same wide style Ira followed at this time except for panel four, where he had less room. There the lettering is compressed horizontally and looks a lot like what he would be doing all the time a few years later.

When the content turned to all humor with issue #108, Ira did mainly just Dover and Clover stories, with a few additions like this one from issue #111.

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By far the most interesting and unusual lettering in this title is on the feature “Jimminy and the Magic Book” beginning with issue #121. At first I thought it might have been lettered by the artist, Howard Post, and he may have pencilled the logo, but looking closer…

morefun121_03detail

…I think this is Ira Schnapp trying out a fanciful style meant to suggest a fairy tale. The letters are mostly still his style with some extra curves and curls, and the balloon shapes are his. Perhaps artist Howard Post suggested this approach, and even pencilled it in that way for Ira to follow. Possibly he showed Ira some of Walt Kelly’s delightful lettering, the first few words of the caption are suggestive of that.

morefun121_44jimminy2nd

A second Jimminy story in #121 is closer to Ira’s usual style (perhaps the editor thought the other one too hard to read), except that the balloons are not his, and are instead likely drawn in by Howard Post. The two Jimminy stories in issue #122 are by Ira, and I think he lettered all the rest of them until the series ended with issue #127. Editor Jack Schiff seemed to love Jimminy, and it does look great, but apparently it did not sell well enough to keep MORE FUN alive.

The final Jimminy page by Post and Schnapp from issue #127. Jimminy made a few later appearances in other titles probably to use up inventory, and it’s a shame it did not find an audience. Seems to me it would have appealed to Pogo fans at least.

Below are the stories I see Ira Schnapp lettering on. Features are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#91 May-June 1943: Johnny Quick 11pp

#101 Jan-Feb 1945: Superboy 5pp

#102 March-April 1945: SBoy 7pp, Dover & Clover 4pp, Aquaman 8pp

#103 May-June 1945: Sboy 7pp, D&C 4pp

#104 July-Aug 1945: Sboy 7pp, JQ 10pp, D&C 4pp, Aqua 8pp

#105 Sept-Oct 1945: Green Arrow 10pp, Sboy 7pp, JQ 10pp, D&C 4pp, Aqua 8pp

#106 Nov-Dec 1945: GA 10pp, Sboy 7pp, D&C 4pp, JQ 10pp, Aqua 8pp

#107 Jan-Feb 1946: GA 10pp, D&C 4pp, JQ 10pp, Sboy 7pp, Aqua 8pp

#108 March 1946: D&C 4pp, The Gas-House Gang 6pp

#109 April 1946: D&C 4pp

#110 May 1946: D&C 4pp

#111 June 1946: D&C 4pp, Cunnel Custard 5pp

#112 July 1946: D&C 4pp

#113 Aug 1946: D&C 4pp

#114 Sept 1946: D&C 4pp

#115 Oct 1946: D&C 4pp

#116 Nov 1946: D&C 4pp

#117 Dec 1946: D&C 4pp

#118 Jan 1947: D&C 4pp

#119 Feb 1947: D&C 4pp

#120 March 1947: D&C 4pp

#121 April 1947: Jimminy 8pp, D&C 4pp, Jim 7pp

#122 May 1947: Jim 8pp, D&C 4pp, Jim 8pp

#123 June 1947: Jim 8pp, D&C 4pp, Jim 6pp

#124 July 1947: Jim 8pp, 6pp

#125 Aug 1947: Jim 8pp, D&C 4pp, Jim 7pp

#126 Sept 1947: Jim 8pp, D&C 4pp, Jim 7pp

#127 Nov-Dec 1947: Jim 8pp, 7pp, 6pp, D&C 4pp, Jim 7pp, 8pp

That’s 404 pages on this series.

Other articles about Ira’s life and lettering can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog along with more posts you might enjoy.

More Fun Comics on Wikipedia.

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