Ira Schnapp in MORE FUN COMICS

morefun105fcThis and all images © DC Comics.

MORE FUN grew out of the first comic published by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, NEW COMICS, 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. 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. 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.

As with other 1940s National (DC) comics I’ve looked through, Ira Schnapp’s involvement begins with issues dated in early 1945, which means his work for it was begun probably in the fall of 1944. Starting with cover lettering, issue 105 dated Sept.-Oct. 1945, above, is clearly lettered by Ira, the script style of “Featuring” is unmistakable. Some of the other lettering is his early display style seen on other covers he did in this period. Let’s see if we can follow his style back through a few earlier covers.morefun104fcIssue 104 dated July-Aug. 1945 features Dover and Clover with Superboy. Dover and Clover, with art by Henry Boltinoff was a feature that Ira Schnapp usually lettered, and the word balloons here seem like his work, though the larger bold words are not yet in the style he settled on later. While this “Featuring” is different from the one on #105, I think it also looks like Ira’s lettering.

morefun103fcIssue #103 dated May-June 1945 also features Dover and Clover. The balloons aare similar to the ones on #104, but with some differences too.

morefun103fcdetailA closer look. The balloon shapes and general size and proportions of the letters are right for Schnapp, or at least early Schnapp. While some letters are not typical of his work, considering that his style was not yet set at this point, I think it’s safe to call this Ira Schnapp cover lettering, and by far the earliest I’ve yet found.

morefun102fcBy comparison, the Dover and Clover balloons on issue #102 dated March-April 1945 are in a completely different style, I think that of artist Henry Boltinoff himself. I see no earlier Schnapp cover lettering on this title, but I do find it on all the MORE FUN covers after the ones shown here.

morefun114fcThere are a few with a very uncharacteristic treatment of the emphasized words, like this on issue #114, but I see enough Schnapp elements here to convince me this is just Ira trying something different.

morefun121fcIssue #121 featured the beginning of a new fantasy series with art by Howard Post very much in the style of Walt Kelly on Dell comics like FAIRY TALE PARADE. Here the lettering on the book is probably by Post, while the lettering at upper right is by Schnapp. To sum up, I find Ira Schnapp lettering on all the covers of issues 104 to 127.

morefun103_14Moving to interior stories, this Superboy story from #103 looks like early Schnapp lettering to me.

morefun103_14detailA closer look shows letters that are mostly like Schnapp’s later work, but not as consistent or even, and with a few style differences like the B in the bold SUPERBOY where the center loop does not connect to the left stroke, but it does in most of the other examples of that letter.

morefun102_14In issue #102 dated March-April 1945, the Superboy story is a little less like what I look for in Ira Schnapp lettering, but similar enough to the story in #103 to convince me it’s also by him.

morefun102_16In this later page from that story, everything looks enough like Ira Schnapp work as well. It’s the earliest story lettering by him I see on this title.

morefun101-21By comparison, the very first Superboy story from MORE FUN #101 dated Jan.-Feb. 1945 I’m less sure about.

morefun101-21detailThere are similarities to early Schnapp, but also some major differences, like the unconnected R’s. This could be Ira still finding his way with story lettering. I’m on the fence about this one, and will not claim it for Ira in my list at the end of this article.

morefun104-14detailThe scans I have of issue #104 are blurry, but the Superboy lettering again does not look as much like Schnapp to me, though it could be.

morefun104-16detailAnother panel from that story. Here it does look more like Schnapp to me, especially the way the first balloon goes over the panel borders, and the shape of the question mark. Okay, I’m giving this one to Ira too.

morefun104-37The Dover and Clover story in #104 definitely looks like Schnapp lettering, and I also see it on the Johnny Quick story in this issue.

morefun105_15The Superboy story in issue #105 is definitely by Schnapp, as are the Dover and Clover and Johnny Quick stories. From here forward it’s easier to tell which stories are Ira’s as his style settles into the one he used for a long time.

morefun121_03jimminyBy 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 done 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_44jimminy2ndA second Jimminy story in #121 is back 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. All the rest of the Jimminy stories use this style. I haven’t read these stories, but they certainly look charming. Editor Jack Schiff loved Jimminy, but apparently it did not sell well enough to keep MORE FUN alive.

To sum up, here are the stories I see Ira Schnapp lettering on.

MORE FUN #101 Jan.-Feb. 1945: first Superboy story 7 pages, possibly Ira, not sure.

MORE FUN #102 March-April 1945: Superboy 7 pages

MF #103 May-June ’45: Superboy 7 pages

MF #104 July-Aug. ’45: Superboy 7 pp, Johnny Quick 10 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp

MF #105 Sept.-Oct. ’45: Superboy 7 pp, Johnny Quick 10 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp

MF #106 Nov.-Dec. ’45: Green Arrow 10 pp, Superboy 7 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp

MF #107 Jan.-Feb. 1946: Green Arrow 10 pp, Superboy 7 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp

MF #108 – 110: Dover & Clover 4 pp

MF #111 May 1946: Dover & Clover 4 pp, Cunnel Custard 5 pp

MF #112 – 120: Dover & Clover 4 pp

MF #121 April 1947: Jimminy and the Magic Book 8 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp, Jimminy (2nd story) 7 pp

(I do not have scans for issues 122 to 124, but the Jimminy and Dover & Clover stories there are probably lettered by Schnapp.)

MF #125 Aug. 1947: Jimminy 8 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp, Jimminy (2nd) 7 pp

MF #126 Sept. 1947: Jimminy 8 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp, Jimminy 7 pp

MF #127 Nov. 1947: Jimminy 8 pp, Jimminy (2nd) 7 pp, Jimminy (3rd) 6 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp, Jimminy 7 pp, Jimminy 8 pp

Not a large amount of story lettering in this title for Ira Schnapp, but some interesting ones. 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.

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