Ira Schnapp in ROMANCE TRAIL and JIMMY WAKELY

This and all images © DC Comics

There’s very little work by Ira Schnapp in these two late 1940s titles from DC Comics, but I’m including them as part of my effort to list all of Ira’s lettering for the company. ROMANCE TRAIL ran for only six issues under editor Julius Schwartz, and is an early example of a relatively rare crossover genre, “romance western.” On the cover of the first issue, July/Aug 1949, is singing cowboy Jimmy Wakely who would soon get his own title. The logo is probably by Ira Schnapp, with ROMANCE in script made with rope. It reminds me of a logo I think Ira designed in 1937 for a pulp magazine published by DC Comics owner Harry Donenfeld, below, more on that HERE.

The word TRAIL in the comic logo is based on an old tree stump or rustic wood font from Victorian times that I’ve seen but can’t find to compare. I think it was more complex than the one seen here. The entire logo seems like the kind of thing Ira Schnapp would draw to me. The rest of the lettering on the cover does not seem quite right for Schnapp, though. While other covers in the series used some of the same cover lettering, they were all photo covers and did not have word balloons. None have work by Ira other than the logo.

ROMANCE TRAIL #5 is famous, at least in my mind, as the home of the very first DC lettering of Gaspar Saladino, as I described in a series of blog posts beginning HERE. Also in that issue is the only story lettering by Ira. As you can see, many pages in these comics are full of lettering, and Ira’s small style at least helps it fit. Schnapp lettering on this title can be summed up here:

#5 March/April 1950: Once and For Always 8pp

In 1949 DC started a new title featuring Jimmy Wakely, also edited by Julius Schwartz, that ran for 18 issues. Wakely was an actor, songwriter and singer, and is described as one of the last singing cowboys. He was never as popular as others like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, but perhaps that made a licensing deal for comic books more affordable for DC. The logo of his comic suggests to me it was based on his signature. Ones I’ve found, as below, are at least somewhat similar.

The comics logo might have been designed by Ira Schnapp, but all the other lettering on the first issue’s cover is by another unknown person I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp because I think his work was the model for Ira’s own lettering. It makes sense, therefore, to suggest that Proto-Schnapp also designed the logo.

Later issues in the series, like #10, have more traditional comics art and lettering, and I think this is the first one with a caption by Ira Schnapp. Note that a drop shadow has been added to the logo to make it read better over artwork.

Ira’s caption for issue #12, July/Aug 1951, is a handsome scroll with some of Ira’s Old English style in the story title.

On the final issue, #18, we find a typical Schnapp word balloon and a nice borderless caption. The image by artist Gil Kane is striking and exciting, but too late to save the book, I guess. In summary, I see Ira’s lettering on the following covers of this title: 10, 12, 15, 16 and 18, five in all.

Ira lettered only one story for JIMMY WAKELY in issue #15, sample page above. The story title is “Tommyguns on the Range,” and it’s 8pp. Many stories in this title were lettered by Gaspar Saladino.

More about Jimmy Wakely on Wikipedia.

Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

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