Ira Schnapp in ROBIN HOOD and CHARLIE CHAN

Images © DC Comics

When DC Comics acquired the rights to the properties of Quality Comics in 1956, only three titles continued uninterrupted. Two, G.I. COMBAT and BLACKHAWK, became long-running successes for DC. The third, ROBIN HOOD TALES, lasted only eight issues. DC picked it up with issue #7, so perhaps the six Quality issues did not have a chance to find an audience. It must not have sold well despite some fine art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito among others. Robert Kanigher was the editor. Ira Schnapp created the logo loosely based on the original from the Quality issues:

Ira’s version added interest with small points on the vertical sides of ROBIN HOOD and a larger hand-lettered TALES. Ira also did the caption on this and all the covers, his only involvement with the book. Interior stories were nearly all lettered by Gaspar Saladino. Since I have the space in this article, I’ll show all the DC covers.

Issue #8’s cover has a handsome shield caption with some of Ira’s Old English lettering on the story title.

The caption on issue #9 is similar with added points at the top of the shield.

Even when some of the text is the same, as here on issue #10, Ira did it anew. Three story titles required a simpler version of his Old English style.

Issue #11’s caption is again similar but much wider to fit the space available.

All these covers follow a similar pattern, no word balloons, just a caption. The art tells the story.

Issue #13 puts the caption along the bottom for a change, and the art by Andru and Esposito features one of the largest heads I can recall seeing on a DC comic.

Despite surviving so much danger, Robin Hood and Maid Marion could not survive cancellation, and issue #14 was the last issue. On the logo here, TALES is almost unreadable, it should have been dropped out in yellow, but the main selling point was ROBIN HOOD anyway. So, eight covers by Ira Schnapp on this book.

An even shorter-lived title was this one, begun in 1958 and based on the Charlie Chan television series starring J. Carroll Naish as Charlie Chan and James Hong as his son, Barry Chan. It was edited by Julius Schwartz and lasted just six issues. Ira Schnapp designed the logo using the faux Asian style he turned to for such things, which is now frowned upon by Asian Americans, but then the entire Charlie Chan concept probably is too. The frame with rounded ends is an interesting choice. Ira lettered five of the six covers too, and as I have room, I will show all of them. Ira did no story lettering, again they were all or nearly all lettered by Gaspar Saladino.

Issue #2 has the the story titles knocked out in white against a mauve background. That could have been hard to read if Ira’s lettering wasn’t as bold as it is here.

Perhaps struggling to find interesting story ideas for the character, for issue #3 editor Schwartz turned to the kind of thing he used in his science fiction anthologies, switching minds.

On issue #4, Ira did the small sound effect as well as the caption. I’m always kind of surprised his sound effects are so small. A gunshot should be large and loud to help sell the danger of the situation.

The cover of issue #5 has lettering by Gaspar Saladino, probably because Ira wasn’t available when it was needed. Gaspar didn’t letter many covers until Ira left the DC staff, but as you can see, he certainly had the skills.

The final issue is back to Schnapp lettering, so Ira did five of these covers. One thing that’s a bit surprising on this title is that there’s no reference to the TV show it’s based on, though DC must have had to acquire licensing rights. In any case, sales must have been poor for it to be cancelled so quickly.

The New Adventures of Charlie Chan TV show on Wikipedia.

More articles in this series are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

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