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 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 is probably also by Schnapp, including the small hard-to-read photo credit at lower left.. While other covers in the series used some of the same cover lettering, they were all photo covers and did not have word balloons.

The cover of issue #2 has a different photo credit at lower left. Otherwise there is no other new cover lettering on the series.

ROMANCE TRAIL #5 from 1950 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 is designed by Ira Schnapp, and he also did the rest of the cover lettering.

Issue #3 has this relettered version of the blurb, perhaps the first one was deemed too hard to read.

By issue #8 the photo covers were replace by drawn ones, and Schnapp lettering was then used on most of them. Note that the logo has an added drop shadow to make it read better.

Issue #10 has a more typical Schnapp caption.

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: 1, 3, 8-10, 12-13, 15-16 and 18, ten in all.

Ira did very little story lettering for this title, but I think he lettered this title page for the second issue. Some of his lettering was reused on later title pages with new story titles added by someone else.

Ira lettered this three-page filler for issue #1.

He also did a story in issue #9, above.

Ira’s last story lettering was for issue #15, sample page shown here. Much of the story lettering in both these western titles was by Gaspar Saladino just starting out on his long lettering career.

Schnapp story lettering in JIMMY WAKELY:

#1 Sept-Oct 1949: The Sun-Dance of the Crow Indians 3pp

#2 Nov-Dec 1949: Title page 1pp

#9 Jan-Feb 1951: Secret of the Old Sourdough 8pp

#15 Jan-Feb 1952: Tommyguns on the Range 8pp

That’s 20 pages in all.

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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