Ira Schnapp in MYSTERY IN SPACE

All images © DC Comics

In 1951 editor Julius Schwartz launched a second science fiction anthology title in the same vein as his STRANGE ADVENTURES. It followed a similar pattern of several unrelated short stories in each issue. Writer names were included on some early stories, but were not promoted as much as in the other title. MIS was bimonthly at first, then went to eight issues per year. Several continuing features had runs, but none with the popularity and impact of Adam Strange, featured in every issue from #53 to #100, the closest DC came to a science fictional super-hero in these two books. Adam Strange and another hero, Space Ranger, had first appeared in separate stories in SHOWCASE #17-19, but Adam found his home in MYSTERY IN SPACE after that. When editor Jack Schiff took over the title with issue #92, he also brought Space Ranger into it before turning the book over to a new character, Ultra, the Multi-Alien for the last eight issues.

The logo and cover lettering for the first issue, above, is by Ira Schnapp. The logo matches the style of his STRANGE ADVENTURES one, helping to tie the two similar books together for readers. His handsome script top line “Strange Stories of the Future!” is hindered by too much black ink, but still readable. Most of Ira’s work on this title was for covers, he lettered almost all of them, while working on just a few stories inside.

On issue #2, Ira’s caption doubles as a Wanted poster. His top lines show up much better this time.

Issue #9 from 1952 has the first Schnapp word balloon in the style familiar from nearly all the DC covers of the time. The top lettering is down to one line and in a box to read better.

Irwin Donenfeld of DC’s management was convinced that monkeys and apes on covers sold comics, so they appeared on many issues. I find this one’s monkey balloon by Ira amusing.

Here’s the first appearance of Adam Strange in the series, looking very much the super-hero. I enjoyed his adventures as a child, especially the ones drawn by Carmine Infantino, though this cover drawn by Gil Kane is fine too.

Adam Strange was so popular that by issue #75 in 1962 he was occasionally starring in book-length stories with guest stars like the Justice League of America. All that is touted in Ira Schnapp’s caption.

One of the most memorable Adam Strange covers on this series includes some fine caption lettering at the bottom by Ira in the form of a monument the character is standing on.

For a few issues, Adam was joined by Hawkman in separate stories, and in one combined adventure in issue #90, as Ira explains in his caption.

With Jack Schiff now editing, issue #103 heads in a very different direction, and Ira’s lettering takes a much larger part of the cover from here on as well. I never saw these issues, and don’t like the look of them much now.

Ira’s final cover lettering was on the last issue of this run, #110. I love his interpretation of flute playing on the left side.

Here are the covers I see Ira’s lettering on, not counting reused blurbs: 1-3, 5-83, 86-88, 90-96, 98-100, 102-110. That’s 104 in all.

Here’s the title page of the story in issue #1 that Ira lettered. Most of the story lettering on the first 30 issues is by Gaspar Saladino, and he lettered many stories after that too. Ira did only a few.

Another continuing feature of the series was Space-Cabbie, and Ira lettered two early ones. This is the second appearance in issue #24 from 1955.

While Ira did not letter any of the Adam Strange stories, he did design this logo that appeared on the first page of each one. The letter shapes are very much in his style.

The last story lettering by Schnapp in this book was a Star Rovers story in issue #86 from 1963. This was another continuing series, a clever idea where each of the main characters has a different take on what happens.

While Ira did not letter any of the Space Ranger stories, again he designed the logo for the title pages.

Ira also did the logo for Ultra the Multi-Alien, but it did not appear until the character’s second story in issue #104 from 1965. I like the shapes in ULTRA, and the lower case L, but the rest could have been more compact and in that space to the right of it.

Here are the stories with Schnapp lettering:

#1 April/May 1951: The Mind Robbers 8pp

#6 Feb/March 1952: Cowboy On Mars 8pp

#9 Aug/Sept 1952: The Martian Horse 6pp

#11 Dec 1952/Jan 1953: S.O.S. in Space 6pp

#24 Feb/March 1955: Hitchhiker of Space 6pp

#26 June/July 1955: One-Man Planet 6pp, Space-Cabbie 6pp

#27 Aug/Sept 1955: The Human Fishbowl 6pp

#29 Dec 1955/Jan 1956: Mystery of the Mind-Reading Jewels 6pp

#39 Aug/Sept 1957: Solar Olympics of 3,000 A.D. 6pp

#68 June 1961: Captain Baboon’s Space-War 8pp

#69 Aug 1961: Duel of the Star Gladiators 8pp

#72 Dec 1961: Doom-Trap for Earth 10pp

#86 Sept 1963: Star Rovers 10pp

That’s a total of 94 pages. More articles in this series can be found on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Mystery in Space on Wikipedia, with a list of all the continuing features.

2 thoughts on “Ira Schnapp in MYSTERY IN SPACE

  1. Lou

    Always loved the Star Rovers stories when I saw some of them reprinted in the 1970s–

    Actually, I was a sucker for any of the science fiction reprint books: Strange Adventures as well as From Beyond the Unknown back then. Wish more of those stories could be reprinted somewhere.

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