Ira Schnapp in REAL SCREEN COMICS

Images © DC Comics

In 1941, Screen Gems began producing a series of animated short cartoons featuring The Fox and the Crow, with classic rivalry/adversarial stories between Fauntleroy Fox and Crawford Crow, characters created by Frank Tashlin. Between 1941 and 1949, 21 cartoons were issued through Columbia Pictures, and three more through UPA to 1950. These and other Screen Gems cartoon characters Tito and his Burrito and Flippity and Flop (a bird and cat) began appearing in comics from DC in REAL SCREEN FUNNIES #1, Spring 1945, above. I believe the logo and cover lettering is by Ira Schnapp, though the logo might have been designed by the cover artist. I’m leaning toward Ira, as it’s similar to the rounded cartoony style of other DC humor titles like ANIMAL ANTICS that I think he also did. The cover lettering is unlike what he’d be doing a few years later, but I think Ira was using some bouncier styles for humor work then. The tagline “Featuring the Fox and the Crow” from this cover appeared off and on through the book’s run. The original editor is not known. Whitney Ellsworth received credit, as he did on all the other DC titles of the time, but others did most of the work. Larry Nadle might have been the editor from the beginning, he was by the late 1940s, but I’m not sure when he started.

With issue #2 the title was changed to REAL SCREEN COMICS, bringing it in line with all other titles from DC. The word balloon on this cover might be by the cover artist. Much or even all the art and stories for DC’s funny animal comics were produced by animators on the west coast, who sent in finished inked art, so a balloon like this might have been done at the same time. James Davis was the main artist on The Fox and The Crow at DC, and he may have done much of the other art in this series too, or possibly he had a studio with other artists who all worked on it.

Covers for this series sometimes have no lettering. When they do, it’s usually by Ira Schnapp, as with issue #4, above. At the time he was often doing the letter R with an upcurved right leg, and you can see that in the word WINTERTIME. The balloon lettering is also very even and regular, another clue.

Another cover with Schnapp lettering. On early issues he also did the issue number, date and price.

Issue #10 from 1947 has a rare example of a wavy balloon shape from Ira.

By issue #16 from 1948, the balloon lettering is starting to look more like the style Ira would use on all DC covers in a few years.

By 1950, the same style was still in use…

…but by issue #37, April 1951, Schnapp’s mature cover lettering style had emerged, and would remain his usual one.

While most REAL SCREEN covers were a single gag scene, issue #54 was an exception. It had a four-panel strip lettered by Ira in a somewhat different way, sort of a blend of his story page and cover styles.

The final cover with Schnapp balloon lettering is issue #122. After that they had none.

With issue #129 in 1959, the book was retitled TV SCREEN CARTOONS, and gained a new Ira Schnapp logo. Not one of his better efforts, but it did the job. I guess the idea was that these cartoon characters were now showing up on TV, and kids might see them there. The book continued under this title until issue #138 in 1961. None of the TV SCREEN issues had captions or word balloons.

The sign lettering on issue #134 was probably lettered by Ira.

And the final issue has a book title that looks like Ira’s work.

I see Ira Schnapp lettering on these covers: 1, 4, 6-12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22-26, 29-31, 33-37, 41, 43-45, 47-50, 52, 54, 58-74, 76-77, 80, 82, 85-87, 89, 91-95, 97-102, 105, 108-119, 121-122, 134 and 138. That’s 90 covers in all.

The story lettering for many early issues, including the first one seen here, looked like this, with large wide letters made with a wedge-tipped pen, nothing like the work of Ira Schnapp. Credits in general are scarce in the Grand Comics Database on this title, with only a few guesses about artists on the first issue, and nothing on later ones until #26. The stories were done by animators on the west coast, and The Fox and the Crow was usually done by animator James Davis, and sent to DC as finished inked pages. Davis may have subcontracted the lettering too, early on, and sent in finished lettered pages. There were only a few exceptions in the first 27 issues.

Issue #4 has this 2/3 page story lettered by Ira, probably all done in New York to fill the space above an ad. Similar ones are in issues 10, 12 and 13.

Issue #28 from 1950 has one story lettered by Ira, though the balloon shapes are by the artist. That seemed to break the ice, and with issue #30, Ira was lettering about two-thirds of each issue or more. A few stories lettered in the previous style are present for a while, then that tapers off.

This story from issue #31, Aug-Sept 1950, is lettered by Ira doing his best to keep the words inside the balloons inked by the artist, and it was a tight fit in the last panel. Ira Schnapp’s story lettering appears on multiple short stories in each issue from here until the end of the series. The book continued with a new title, TV SCREEN CARTOONS until issue #138. The lead feature was always The Fox and The Crow, and they often appeared multiple stories. DC funny animal stories tended to be lighter on words than other genres, but some of the stories in this book buck the trend by being pretty wordy. Later, the balloon shapes look more like Ira’s work, so perhaps the artists just pencilled the lettering and balloon shapes and he did the rest.

Another regular feature, also from the Screen Gems cartoons, but less popular and less of them, were the bird and cat Flippity and Flop, seen here from issue #55, with the dog character trying to protect the bird from the cat. One odd thing about this series is that the features did not have regular reappearing logos very often. Generally the title was lettered differently on each one by the artist in lieu of a story title.

The third regular feature was Tito and his Burrito, also in a few cartoons, shown from issue #48, obviously Mexican characters that would probably not be as welcome today, though they seem appealing. Unlike the other features, the conflict here was more often about Tito and his family finding ways to get by. Aside from an occasional humor page from other DC books, a two-page text story in each issue to satisfy 2nd-class mailing requirements (sometimes about Fox and Crow), puzzle pages, house ads and public service pages (often lettered by Ira Schnapp) that’s the content of this title. It shrunk in size from 52 to 44 to 36 pages (those numbers include covers) over the years, but was otherwise very consistent. The license fees paid for the use of the characters must not have been onerous.

When the title switched to TV SCREEN CARTOONS, the content was the same, and many stories were lettered by Schnapp. One difference was that the lead Fox and Crow story was formatted in panels with heavy rounded corners like a TV screen, something I think readers might not even have noticed.

Often any sound effects were added by the artist, but this page from a Flippity and Flop story in issue #133 has some drawn by Ira Schnapp.

A page lettered by Ira from the final issue, #138.

The Fox and the Crow starred in their own long series from DC and also appeared in COMIC CAVALCADE. I’ve long thought that Ira Schnapp did more work on humor titles than anywhere else, and here’s a good example. Below are a list of all the stories he lettered. Numbers in parentheses are the story number in that issue for a particular feature. Usually only Fox & Crow had more than one. Some one-page stories listed here are actually two-thirds or a half page to make room for an ad. Feature names are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#4 Jan-Feb 1946: Tito and his Burrito 1pp

#10 Feb-March 1947: Snorky 1pp

#12 June-July 1947: Unlucky Lou 1pp

#13 Aug-Sept 1947: Dusty & Rusty 1pp

#28 Feb-March 1950: Fox & Crow 6pp (2)

#30 June-July 1950: F&C 8pp (1), T&B 7pp, F&C 1pp (2), F&C 6pp (3), F&C 1pp (4), F&C 7pp (5)

#31 Aug-Sept 1950: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 7pp (3), F&C 1pp (5), F&C 6pp (7), F&C 1pp (8)

#32 Oct-Nov 1950: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 7pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), Flippity & Flop 7pp, F&C 1pp (7), F&C 7pp (8)

#33 Dec 1950: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), F&C 8pp (3), T&B 7pp, F&C 8pp (4)

#34 Jan 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 8pp (2), F&C 1pp (3), Tito & Rosita 7pp, F&C 1pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), F&C 7pp (6)

#35 Feb 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 1pp (3), F&C 8pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), F&C 2pp (6), T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp (7), F&C 1pp (8), F&C 8pp (10)

#36 March 1951: F&C 7pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), F&F 7pp, F&C 1pp (3), F&C 7pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), T&B 7pp, F&C 1pp (6), F&C 1pp (7), F&C 1pp (8), F&C 8pp (9)

#37 April 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&F 7pp, F&C 6pp (3), T&B 7pp, F&C 1pp (4), F&C 2pp (5), F&C 1pp (6), F&C 1pp (7), F&C 7pp (8)

#38 May 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), F&C 6pp (3), F&F 7pp, F&C 1pp (4), F&C 7pp (5), F&C 6pp (6)

#39 June 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 2pp (2), F&C 1 pp (3), F&C 6pp (4), T&B 7pp, F&C 1pp (5), F&C 1pp (6), F&C 7pp (7), F&C 1pp (8), F&C 1pp (9)

#40 July 1951: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 7pp (2), F&C 1pp (3), F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp (6), F&C 1pp (7), F&C 7pp (8)

#41 Aug 1951: T&B 6pp, F&C 7pp (2), F&C 1pp (3), F&F 7pp, F&C 2pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), F&C 7pp (6)

#42 Sept 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&F 7pp, F&C 8pp (2), F&C 7pp (5)

#43 Oct 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 5pp (2), F&F 6pp, F&C 3pp (3), T&B 7pp, F&C 1pp (4), F&C 7pp (5)

#44 Nov 1951: F&C 8pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 3pp (2), F&F 7pp, F&C 2pp (3), F&C 1pp (4), F&C 7pp (5)

#45 Dec 1951: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 2pp (2), F&F 7pp, F&C 7pp (3), F&C 1pp (4)

#46 Jan 1952: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 7pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 5pp (3)

#47 Feb. 1952: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 4pp, F&C 7pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (4)

#48 March 1952: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 4pp (2), F&F 6pp, F&C 2pp (3), F&C 6pp (4)

#49 April 1952: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 2pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 2pp (3)

#50 May 1952: TB 6pp, F&C 7pp (2)

#51 June 1952: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 4pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#52 July 1952: F&F 3pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#53 Aug 1952: T&B 7pp, F&C 7pp (2), F&F 6pp

#54 Sept 1952: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#55 Oct 1952: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 7pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#56 Nov 1952: T&B 6pp, F&F 5pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#57 Dec 1952: F&C 6pp (2)

#58 Jan 1953: F&F 2pp, F&C 2pp (2), F&C 6pp (3)

#59 Feb 1953: F&F 3pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#60 March 1953: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 2pp (2), F&F 2pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#61 April 1953: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 4pp (2)

#62 May 1953: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp (2), F&C 6pp (3), F&F 5pp

#63 June 1953: T&B 6pp

#64 July 1953: T&B 4pp, F&F 6pp

#65 Aug 1953: F&F 4pp

#66 Sept 1953: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 5pp, T&B 5pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#67 Oct 1953: T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp (2), F&F 6pp

#68 Nov 1953: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 4pp, F&C 5pp (3)

#69 Dec 1953: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 5pp, F&C 6pp (3), T&B 1pp

#70 Jan 1954: T&B 4pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 2pp (2), F&C 6pp (3)

#71 Feb 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#73 April 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 5pp (2)

#74 May 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#75 June 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#76 July 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#77 Aug 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#78 Sept 1954: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#79 Oct 1954: F&F 5pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#80 Nov 1954: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#81 Dec 1954: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 5pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#82 Jan 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 5pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#83 Feb 1955: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#84 March 1955: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 4pp, F&C 7pp (2)

#85 April 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#86 May 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#87 June 1955: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 7pp (2)

#88 July 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2), F&F 6pp, F&C 5pp (3)

#89 Aug 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#90 Sept 1955: F&C 7pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#91 Oct 1955: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 2pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#92 Nov 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 1 pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#93 Dec 1955: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#94 Jan 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), T&B 1pp (2), F&C 6pp (3)

#95 Feb 1956: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp (2), F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#96 March 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), T&B 6pp (1), T&B 1pp (2), F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#97 April 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#98 May 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 2pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#99 June 1956: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#100 July 1956: This issue is unusual in that all the main characters are featured in and cross into each other’s chapters of a four-part continued story. Schnapp lettered all the longer stories, there’s a one-page reprint he did not letter. F&C 8pp, F&F 5pp, T&B 3pp, F&C 8pp

#101 Aug 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 1pp (3), F&C 6pp (4)

#102 Sept 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#103 Oct 1956: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 5pp (2)

#104 Nov 1956: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 4pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#105 Dec 1956: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#106 Jan 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#107 Feb 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 7pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#108 March 1957: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#109 April 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 1pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#110 May 1957: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#111 June 1957: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#112 July 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 1pp (2), F&C 6pp (3)

#113 Aug 1957: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#114 Sept 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#115 Oct 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#116 Nov 1957: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 4pp (2), F&C 6pp (2)

#117 Dec 1957: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 7pp (2)

#118 Jan 1958: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#119 Feb 1958: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (4)

#120 March 1958: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#121 April 1958: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 3pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 5pp (3)

#122 May/June 1958: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 7pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#123 July/Aug 1958: F&C 8pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#124 Sept/Oct 1958: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 1pp (2), F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#125 Nov/Dec 1958: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 8pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#126 Jan/Feb 1959: F&C 8pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#127 March/April 1959: F&C 8pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#128 May/June 1959: F&C 8pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 4pp (2), F&F 4pp, F&C 4pp (3)

#129 (TV SCREEN CARTOONS begins) July-Aug 1959: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, F&C 4pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#130 Sept-Oct 1959: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 4pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&F 4pp, F&C 4pp (3)

#131 Nov-Dec 1959: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 4pp, F&C 5pp (2), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (3)

#132 Jan-Feb 1960: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 4pp (2)

#133 March-April 1960: F&C 6pp (1) F&C 3pp (2) F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp

#134 May-June 1960: F&C 6pp (1), T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2), F&F 4pp

#135 July-Aug 1960: F&C 6pp (1), F&C 4pp (2), T&B 6pp

#136 Sept-Oct 1960: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#137 Nov-Dec 1960: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

#138 Jan-Feb 1961: F&C 6pp (1), F&F 6pp, T&B 6pp, F&C 6pp (2)

That’s an amazing total of 2,607 inside pages lettered by Ira Schnapp on this title, if my math is right, not including a few reprints. Not all of it is great lettering, but Ira was consistently readable, and there are more titles in the 1950s with nearly as much of his work as this one.

More on Ira’s lettering can be found on my COMICS CREATION page.

Ira’s Wikipedia page.

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