Ira Schnapp in REAL SCREEN COMICS

This and all 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 an unknown letterer I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp because his work was the model for that of Ira Schnapp. The tagline “Featuring the Fox and the Crow” from this cover appeared off and on through the book’s run.

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 or by Proto-Schnapp, I suspect the latter.

Proto-Schnapp continued to letter some of the covers, though others had no lettering. This balloon is closer to the work of Ira Schnapp, but is subtly different: rounder and wider, with thinner letters. The differences are slight, so I could be wrong, but I feel this is still by Proto-Schnapp.

Issue #37, April 1951, is the first cover on this series I feel sure is by Ira Schnapp. It’s very similar to his other cover lettering of the time, and Proto-Schnapp’s work had disappeared by this time, either because he retired or died.

Most Real Screen covers were a single gag scene, issue #54 was an exception, it had a four-panel strip with typical Ira Schnapp story lettering. Perhaps it had been planned as an inside page and was used on the cover when cover art was late.

Once Ira began lettering the covers, those with any lettering at all usually used his. Issue #122 is the final one. I see Ira Schnapp lettering on these covers:

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, that’s 61 covers.

The story lettering for many early issues, including the first one seen here, looked like this, large wide letters made with a wedge-tipped pen. Nothing like either Ira Schnapp or Proto-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. Possibly the stories were done by animators, or were supplied by a shop or packager. Or perhaps no one has been able to match styles with other DC funny animal art of the period. A lot of creator credits from the 1940s are unknown.

By issue #23, April-May 1949, the lettering is smaller and there’s more of it, bringing this book closer to a typical DC Comic, though the style is not one I recognize. This might suggest a change of editors. The only editor listed on the book is Whitney Ellsworth, but he was the editor-in-chief overseeing the entire line and very unlikely to be involved with this title. Larry Nadle was editing the humor books by the late 1940s.

In issue #31, Aug.-Sept. 1950, Ira Schnapp’s story lettering begins to appear often, on multiple short stories in each issue from here until the end of the series. By issue #35 he was lettering the majority of story pages, and continued to do so until the final issue, #128. The book continued with a new title, TV SCREEN CARTOONS for another ten issues, but I’m not covering those in this article. The lead feature was always The Fox and The Crow, and they often appeared in the final story too, and other short fillers. 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 more wordy. In many cases I think the balloon shapes were put in by the artists, as seen here, where the letters are touching the balloon borders. They are inconsistent and not as well done as Ira’s own balloon shapes.

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 a 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 letterer in lieu of a story title. I really like this one by Ira. In some cases they may have been done by the artist.

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. 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 in it. 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.

#31 Aug/Sept 1950: Fox & Crow (hereafter F&C) 8pp (1), F&C 7pp (3), F&C 6pp (9), F&C 1pp (last story)

#32 Oct/Nov 1950: F&C 7pp (story 4), F&C 7pp (6), F&C 1pp (7), Flippity & Flop (hereafter F&F) 7pp, F&C 1pp (8), F&C 7pp (9)

#33 Dec 1950: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 1pp (2), F&C 8pp (3), Tito and his Burrito (hereafter T&B) 7pp, F&C 8pp (5)

#34 Jan 1951: F&C 8pp (1), F&C 8pp (2), F&C 1pp (3), T&B 7pp, F&C 1pp (4), F&C 1pp (5), F&C 7pp (7)

#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&C 1pp Reprint (2), F&F 6pp, T&B 1 pp (2) Reprint, 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 Reprint (2), 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), F&C 1pp Reprint (2), T&B 6pp, F&F 6pp, F&C 6pp (4), F&C 1pp Reprint (5)

#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, F&C 1pp Reprint (2), 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)

That’s a total of 2,334 inside pages lettered by Ira Schnapp on this title, if my math is right, not including the few reprints. Not all of it is great lettering, but Ira was consistently readable, and I think there are many more titles in the 1950s with 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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