Ira Schnapp in REAL FACT COMICS

This and all images © DC Comics

REAL FACT COMICS ran for 21 issues from March/April 1946 to July/August 1949. Editors Jack Schiff and Murray Boltinoff worked on it uncredited, with Schiff handling scripts and content and Boltinoff handling art editing most likely. Non-fiction educational comics had found a niche by the mid 1940s, and were a good response to criticism about the violence and sexuality of many comics. Typically they did not sell well, and this was DC’s only attempt. Some of the stories were more fiction than fact, particularly “The True Story of Batman and Robin!” in issue #5 and the science-fictional “Just Imagine” regular feature, some with art by pulp artist Virgil Finlay, that introduced the DC character Tommy Tomorrow. I have looked and not found much lettering by Ira Schnapp, but quite a lot by the unknown letterer who inspired Ira I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp. I believe he lettered this and many of the covers. I don’t know who designed the logo, it could be Proto-Schnapp, or Ira, or someone else. It’s not particularly well-done, the word REAL seems like an afterthought. The word COMICS is from earlier DC logos.

Many of the styles that Ira used I think came from Proto-Schnapp, with a few differences between them. Proto-Schnapp’s regular lettering tended to be wider, rounder and sometimes bouncier than Ira’s, though it can be a tough call. His open letters were looser and often more rounded than Ira’s. This cover from 1947 has styles that Ira used as well as some he didn’t, so I’m calling it the work of Proto-Schnapp.

Toward the end of the series, beginning with #17 from 1948, it gets harder to tell whether the covers were lettered by Ira or Proto. I think this is still Proto based on the style of the open letters in the lower right caption, and the loose rounded look of the open letters in the one at lower left, but it’s very close to Ira’s work. I think Proto-Schnapp was an older man probably working on staff at DC who Ira befriended and learned a lot from.

Issue #18 from 1949 has lots of handsome Western poster lettering that I don’t recall Ira doing anywhere else, and the “Action-Packed blurb is too loose to be his, so this is again by Proto-Schnapp.

Issue 19’s cover is a very tough call. It could be either Ira or Proto. I am leaning toward Proto because of a few styles here that Ira did not do elsewhere, but again he was learning from Proto, and might have been copying him more on this title than usual.

Issue #20 is another tough one. Again I am leaning toward Proto-Schnapp because of the loose quality of the open and display lettering.

The final issue has cover lettering that I can finally say is by Ira Schnapp. Notice how the display lettering is more square and regular and the script lettering is narrower. This is the only cover I’m calling for Ira Schnapp on this book.

Inside the book there’s again plenty of lettering by Proto-Schnapp, though other letterers were also used. Here’s a page from Issue #7 of “Just Imagine” with art by Virgil Finlay, a prolific science fiction and fantasy pulp artist whose only comics work was a few stories for DC. The caption lettering is very much like Ira Schnapp’s work, but the titles are too loose and rounded and bouncy. This is by Proto-Schnapp.

The issue #9 story “Sky Writers” is the first one that I think has lettering by Ira Schnapp. Notice the lettering is very regular and most letters would fit into a square. Proto-Schnapp tended to go wider and rounder.

Issue #14’s “The Isle of the Dead,” seen here, is the next one I think Ira lettered, and the script captions are an interesting window into Ira’s handwriting, I believe.

Issue #19 has two stories I think Ira Schnapp lettered, this one and “Old Glory Corner.”

The final issue has this one story lettered by Ira. In all, his involvement with this title was minimal. Here’s a list of his work in it:

#21 cover

#9 July/Aug 1947: “Sky Writers!” 4pp

#14 May/June 1948: “The Isle of the Dead” 4pp

#19 March/April 1949: “The Weapon That Won the West!” 4pp, “Old Glory Corner” 4pp

#21 July/Aug 1949: “The Man Who Was Kind to Animals” 6pp

That’s a total of 22 story pages by Ira on this book. More entries in this series are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Ira Schnapp on Wikipedia.

Real Fact Comics on Wikipedia.

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