Ira Schnapp in MUTT & JEFF

This and all images © DC Comics

In 1907, Harry “Bud” Fisher created a daily comic strip called “A. Mutt” about a hapless fellow betting on horse races and usually losing. It appeared briefly in The San Francisco Chronicle. The strip was seen and liked by William Randolph Hearst who convinced Fisher to bring it to Hearst’s paper, The San Francisco Examiner in 1908. Fisher did something no other cartoonist of his time managed: he put a copyright notice for himself on the final episode that ran in the Chronicle, and that allowed him to gain control of the strip and all its rights. Mr. Mutt was soon joined by another hapless character, and the title changed to Mutt and Jeff. It was syndicated by Hearst’s King Features and became one of the most popular and longest-running strips of all time. Fisher became very wealthy, and by the time the strip added a Sunday page in 1918, most of the work on it was done by assistants and uncredited help. By the early 1930s, Bud Fisher was no longer involved in the strip at all, and starting in 1932 Al Smith became the regular artist (and possibly writer, I’m not sure). Al Smith did Mutt & Jeff for about the next 50 years.

Collected Mutt & Jeff strips appeared in a few hardcover books, and in 1939 All-American Comics, a sister company of DC Comics, began publishing them in comic books. All the interior pages of the comics were newspaper strip reprints, most or all by Al Smith, who may also have done the lettering. The covers initially also had the same style of lettering. In 1946, All-American was bought out by and merged with DC, and all their titles came under the editorial control of DC, though nominally under the All-American editor-in-chief Sheldon Mayer for a while. Looking through the covers, the first one I see with Ira Schnapp lettering is issue #43, above, dated Dec 1949-Jan 1950. Ira lettered many more through the entire DC run, though a few had no lettering and some were lettered by others.

Schnapp had not yet settled on the cover lettering style he would use on every DC cover at this time, but was heading in that direction.

The lettering on issue #51 from 1951 is different again, but the letter shapes still look like Ira’s.

Balloons on issue #65 from 1953 are getting closer.

By issue #72 from 1954, Ira’s cover style had reached its final version that would be used on nearly every DC cover to 1967. This one is particularly charming, I think, with some nice sound effects.

Here’s another nice one from 1957.

The final DC issue, and the final one lettered by Ira, was issue #103, June 1958. The license then went to Dell briefly, and Harvey, who continued to publish the feature until 1965.

To sum up, I see Ira Schnapp lettering on these MUTT & JEFF covers: 43-49, 51-60, 65-76, 78-79, 82-87, 89-103. That’s 52 in all.

That’s all there is to say and know about Ira Schnapp in this title. Others in the series can be found on my Comics Creation page.

Wikipedia on Mutt & Jeff.

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