Ira Schnapp in SUGAR AND SPIKE

Images © DC Comics

The longest-running series of those created by writer/artist Sheldon Mayer is this one, which began in 1956 and ran to issue #98 in 1971. Larry Nadle was probably the editor technically, but Mayer was a former editor at DC himself, and didn’t really need one I’d say, except to traffic the lettering and coloring. Mayer clearly had plenty of ideas for these two very young children and enjoyed writing and drawing them. Even after the series ended he continued to make more, and DC paid him to do so. Some appeared eventually in America, while others were only printed overseas. The two tykes are neighbors and friends, but Sugar was the leader and idea person, while Spike usually took the blame for her naughty ideas. They could speak to and understand each other, but to their parents, what they said came out as nonsense, while the kids couldn’t understand adults either. This led to many funny situations.

Ira Schnapp designed the logo, using thin serif letters and two large S’s to make space for character heads by Mayer. This cover of the first issue got right to the storytelling with a four-panel gag lettered by Ira. Note the more wavy edges to the balloons in the first panel where the kids talk to each other. That would become more pronounced. Mayer often did the balloon shapes, as he did here. A few other covers had four panels, but most had a single image. Schnapp lettered many of the covers and inside pages in the book until issue #76 in 1968.

The cover of issue #2 is a typical example of Sugar being bad and Spike taking the blame, a theme many kids could probably appreciate and find funny. This was the only DC series focused on very young children, but the humor might appeal to any reader who tried them.

Issue #4 is a more typical single image gag, but Mayer’s art and humor told a complete story all the same. Here Sugar’s speech balloon is completely normal, so added by Schnapp. Mayer would have made it wavy.

By issue #8, the child-speak balloons were completely unique, using upper and lower case lettering by Schnapp in a balloon with scalloped edges and tail. Ira has done a new version of the “You’ll Like” tag.

On the cover of issue #10, the adult balloon is rounded, and note the water drops around the first two words. Sugar’s balloon is in the new style, and you can see here that the tail edges criss-cross, while her words are upper case again.

Issue #17 from 1958 is back to upper and lower case Schnapp lettering, but the balloons are by Mayer. I don’t think either of them were too concerned about being consistent, as long as the humor worked.

Issue #21 saw the first appearance of a new Schnapp logo using thicker sans-serif block letters in a wide oval shape with the names on two lines. I think the character heads are the same. The background of reversed images is an unusual treatment for this book.

On issue #33 you can see that Ira’s outlines for the new logo were quite thick to help readability against a busy background. His script on the candy box is elegant.

Many of the six yearly issues had repeated themes, here’s another Valentine’s Day one. Other themes included summer vacation, Halloween, and Christmas.

On issue #55, the lettering is back to upper and lower case in a wavy balloon for child-speak in this Halloween gag.

Another Valentine cover for issue #63 goes back to standard Ira Schnapp upper case lettering for the child-speak balloon, and features two large captions. There was plenty of room for them.

Schnapp’s final cover lettering was on issue #76 from 1968, though I think he did only the child-speak balloons and the bottom caption with the rest being by Mayer. It was a partnership that always worked well.

Here are the covers with Schnapp lettering: 1-11, 13-14, 16-19, 22, 24-56, 58-59, 61-76. That’s 69 in all.

The first page of the first issue shows how Mayer and Schnapp worked together on the lettering. Ira did the caption and balloon letters, while Shelly did the balloon shapes and title and also the big open letters in the burst balloon on the bottom row. Clues to Ira’s involvement are the small, square lettering, the angular S in the emphasized words, and the clincher is the distinctive Schnapp question mark in the last panel. In many cases, Mayer may have turned in inked pages with just the lettering needed by Schnapp pencilled in for Ira to follow.

On this page from #20 are examples of the way adults heard what the kids said in panel two. Mayer explains in the adult balloons. The rest of the Sugar and Spike balloons are in the child-speak style.

For a while, starting with issue #44 above, Mayer asked Schnapp to do the upper and lower case style for child-speak in the stories too. That would have taken more time, and it was only used until issue #56.

In the last few issues he worked on, Ira made another style change perhaps requested by Mayer. His usual question marks were replaced by more standard ones. Sometimes he forgot and did the old style, as in the second balloon in panel six here in issue #74.

These are the stories lettered by Ira Schnapp. He also worked on many of the short filler pages by Mayer like the Pin-Ups, which were actually paper dolls. In some cases, like the Write Your Own Comic pages, Ira only did a small amount of lettering, so I haven’t counted those, particularly since some of them might be repeats. Often Mayer did some of the lettering himself on filler pages, so it’s less clear what Ira did. I’ve only listed the ones I think have a good amount of Schnapp lettering. Especially on early issues, stories not lettered by Schnapp are probably lettered by Mayer. Almost all longer stories feature Sugar and Spike, I’m using sometimes shortened story titles.

#1 April/May 1956: Intro 6pp, Thumbs Up 2pp, Yak-yak Box 5pp

#2 June/July 1956: Spike at Home 1pp, Sugar at Home 1pp, Big Toy Mystery 4pp

#3 Aug/Sept 1956: Shiny Roller 6pp, Spike Discovers the Ocean 6pp, Pinups 1pp, Lobsters Away 4pp, You Be the Editor 1pp, Anti-Aunty 6pp

#4 Oct/Nov 1956: Who’s Sorry Now 6pp, New Gadget 4pp, Water Babies 6pp

#5 Dec 1956/Jan 1957: Grampa’s Problem 1pp, Pinups 1pp

#6 Feb/March 1957: New Baby 6pp, The Trip 6pp, Pinups 1pp, Winter Sunday 4pp, Cats 1pp, Baby vs. Machine 5pp

#7 April/May 1957: Magic Book 6pp, First Haircut 4pp

#8 June/July 1957: Speech Lessons 6pp, Uncle Charley 6pp, Pinups 2pp, The Tick-Tock 1pp, Ride ‘Em Cowboy 3pp, Trip to the Zoo 6pp

#9 Aug 1957: Pinups 2pp, Spike Learns 6pp

#10 Sept 1957: Big Word Mystery 6pp, Magic String 4pp

#11 Oct 1957: Cuddly-Toy 6pp, Indoor Ocean 6pp, Trick or Treat 4pp, Grown-up Party 6pp

#14 March 1958: Visit 6pp, Nice Ice 6pp, Who’ll Fix 1pp

#15 April 1958: Mommies 6pp

#16 June 1958: Picnic 4pp

#17 Aug 1958: Meet Arthur 6pp, Pinups 2pp, no title 1pp, Temptation 6pp

#18 Sept 1958: First Crack 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Losing Business 4pp, Poky Problem 1pp

#19 Oct 1958: Dude Ranchers 6pp, Dictionary 1pp, Gardner’s Surprise 4pp, Pinups 2pp, Look Who’s Here 6pp, Low Gear 2pp, Mystery 6pp, How to Move 1pp

#20 Dec 1958: Circus Parade 6pp, Grown-up Game 2pp, Doing Like Daddy 4pp, Pinups 2pp, Adventures 6pp, Baby-Size Car 6pp

#21 Feb/March 1959: Pinups 2pp, The Time the Trees 6pp, The Rope 1pp

#22 April/May 1959: Visit to Daddy’s Office 6pp, Little Arthur 7pp, Pinups 2pp, Sugar’s Invention 6pp

#23 June/July 1959: Tiny Visitor 6pp, Pinups 2pp, First Movie 6pp, Sympathy 4pp, Flying Split-Peas 7pp, New Gadget 1pp

#24 Aug/Sept 1959: Sugar’s Grampa Plumm 8pp, Pinups 2pp, Uncle Charley 6pp, First Date 2pp, Babies At Sea 7pp

#25 Oct/Nov 1959: Day at the Beach 6pp, Something Special 1pp, Pinups 2pp, Sugar’s Problem 3pp, Grampa’s Music 1pp, First Echo 4pp, Big Ha-Ha 2pp, Billy Borrower 6pp

#26 Dec 1959/Jan 1960: Out-Cast 6pp, Attic 1pp, Pinups 2pp, Mystery of the Man 7pp, Big Gift 6pp, New Sugar 4pp

#27 Feb/March 1960: Baby-Talk Mystery 8pp, Snow Family 1pp, Pinups 1pp, Valentines 1pp, Little Giants 6pp, Strange Stranger 4pp, Valentine Mix-up 6pp

#28 April/May 1960: Strange Creature 6pp, no title 1pp, Spring-Time Tale 4pp, Pint-size Detective 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Spike Discovers 2pp, Daddy’s New Toy 6pp

#29 June/July 1960: Operation Ocean 6pp, Banana’s Overcoat 6pp, Grown-up Party 2pp, Trouble on Wheels 4pp, Flying Saucer 7pp

#30 Aug/Sept 1960: Funny Faces 6pp, Baby vs Cat 3pp, Monkey-Shines 7pp, Pinups 2pp, Pony Tail Strikes 7pp

#31 Oct/Nov 1960: Tackle Halloween 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Day the Plumbers Came 7pp, New Game 1pp, Gardeners 1pp, Temporary Genius 4pp, Big Indian 6pp

#32 Dec 1960/Jan 1961: Help Out Sant 8pp, Superman for a Day 6pp, Experiment 1pp, Baby-Sat 6pp, Pinups 1pp, ‘Twas the Night 4pp

#33 Feb/March 1961: Against Little Arthur 8pp, Snowball War 4pp, Flowers 1pp, Cupid Routine 6pp, Pinups 1pp, Valentines 1pp, Wanderer 6pp

#34 April/May 1961: To the Rescue 6pp, Science 4pp, Ball-Game 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Cookie Hunt 6pp

#35 June/July 1961: Grampa Plumm Returns 6pp, Scientist 4pp, Pinups 2pp, Treasure Hunt 6pp, Crossword Puzzler 4pp, Magic Don’t-Touch Thing 6pp

#36 Aug/Sept 1961: Yacht Race 6pp, Small War 6pp, Sugar’s Logic 1pp, Pinups 2pp, Tough Day 4pp, Big Giant Mystery 6pp

#37 Oct/Nov 1961: Halloween Monsters 6pp, Mystery Toy 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Day the Trees 4pp, Hidden Sugar 1pp, The Rise 6pp

#38 Dec 1961/Jan 1962: Mysterious Secrets 8pp, Nanty Minerva’s 6pp, Confusing Santa 1pp, Pinups 1pp, Foot Trouble 4pp, Christmas Eve 6pp

#39 Feb/March 1962: Ski-wheeee 8pp, Mail-Box Mystery 6pp, Pinups 1pp, New Kid 4pp, Uncle Charley’s Put-Put 6pp

#40 April/May 1962: Space Sprout 14pp, Who’s Who 1pp, Snack System 4pp, Pinups 2pp, A New Shirt 6pp

#41 June/July 1962: Who Said That 8pp, The Wet-Stuff 6pp, Pinups 2pp, New Hat 4pp, Water Sports 6pp

#42 Aug/Sept 1962: Get Separated 6pp, Daddy Fun 4pp, Little Arthur 6pp, Pinups 2pp, A Porpoise 6pp

#43 Oct/Nov 1962: Get Up in the World 8pp, Don’t-Touch Stuff 4pp, Pinups 2pp, Space Sprout 6pp, Uncle Charley 6pp

#44 Dec 1962/Jan 1963: Santa’s Parents (4 chapters) 8pp, 6pp, 6pp, 4pp, Sugar to the Rescue 1pp

#45 Feb/March 1963: First Valentine Party 8pp, White Stuff 6pp, How High 4pp, Pull-Toy 6pp

#46 April/May 1963: Muscles 8pp, Sugar Cure 4pp, The Hat 1pp, Pinups 2pp, Wooden Pussy-Cat 6pp, Sugar’s Discovery 6pp

#47 June/July 1963: Who Stole Our Ocean 8pp, Investigators 1pp, Sugar’s Always Right 4pp, The Genius 7pp, Pinups 2pp, Growing Pains 6pp

#48 Aug/Sept 1963: 4000 Year Old Baby 6pp, Indian Chief 8pp, Pinups 2pp, The Doggie 4pp, Little Arthur 6pp

#49 Oct/Nov 1963: Halloween Adventure 8pp, Uncle Charley 6pp, Pinups 2pp, War with a Window 4pp, Tale of the Tick-Tock 6pp

#50 Dec 1963/Jan 1964: Four-Legged Boss 8pp, Dozen Doll-Boys 4pp, Pinups 1pp, Became Santa Claus (2 parts) 6pp, 6pp

#51 Feb/March 1964: Valentine-Eve Adventure (2 parts) 8pp, 7pp, The Genius 4pp, Pinups 1pp, Valentine Cards 1pp, Comedienne 6pp

#52 April/May 1964: Baby Vanished 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Grown-up Talk 6pp, Lesson in Sharing 4pp

#53 June/July 1964: Ball-Fight 8pp, Pinups 2pp, Deep Sea Adventure 6pp, Back-Fire 4pp, Go Figure 6pp

#54 Aug/Sept 1964: Swimming Lesson 8pp, Boppo’s Escape 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Better Late 1pp, Spike Solves 6pp

#55 Oct/Nov 1964: Halloween Goblin 10pp, Shopping 1pp, Big Adventure 13pp

#56 Dec 1964/Jan 1965: Christmas Dollies 14pp, Pinups 1pp, Christmas Cards 1pp, Spike’s Big Problem 4pp, Air-Waves 6pp

#57 Feb/March 1965: Valentine’s Day 10pp, Pinups 1pp, Valentine Cards 1pp, Puppet Plot 8pp, Sugar’s Conscience 4pp, Education/Big Secret 1pp

#58 April/May 1965: Lion in the House 16pp, Nature Study 1pp, Pinups 2pp, Sugar Revolts 6pp

#59 June/July 1965: Baby Farmers 8pp, Conspiracy 6pp, Pinups 2pp, Legal Troubles 6pp, Spike is Right 1pp

#60 Aug/Sept 1965: Slurp Game 8pp, Pinups 2pp, One-Eyed Box 6pp, Kill-Joy 1pp, Perry 6pp

#61 Oct/Nov 1965: Halloween Cats 14pp, Uncle Charley 4pp, Pinups 2pp, Music Maker 3pp

#62 Dec 1965/Jan 1966: Santa’s Sleigh Broke Down 16pp, Pinups 1pp, Winter War 6pp

#63 Feb/March 1966: Valentine’s Day Adventure 14pp, Good Intentions 6pp, The Worrier 3pp, Pinups 1pp, Valentine Cards 1pp

#64 April/May 1966: Baby Heroes 20pp, Contest 1pp, Baby Talk 1pp, Pinups 2pp,

#65 June/July 1966: Impossible Adventure 20pp, Pinups 2pp, Law of Gravity 1pp

#66 Aug/Sept 1966: Invisible Infants 20pp, Pinups 2pp,

#67 Oct/Nov 1966: Halloween Magic 21pp, Pinups 2pp

#68 Dec 1966/Jan 1967: Cowboy Santa Claus 20pp, Pinups 2pp

#69 Feb/March 1967: A Super-Hero 21pp, Valentine Cards 1pp, Pinups 2pp,

#71 June/July 1967: Double Trouble 20pp

#72 Aug/Sept 1967: Bernie the Brain 20pp

#73 Oct/Nov 1967: Trigger Finger 20pp, Pinups 2pp

#74 Dec 1967/Jan 1968: Revolt in the Nursery 20pp, Pinups 2pp

#75 Feb/March 1968: The Mischievous Marble 20pp, Pinups 2pp, Doodles Duck 6pp

#76 April/May 1968: The Blehh 20pp, Pinups 2pp

That’s a total of 1,623 pages if my addition is right. Quite a large body of work.

Sugar and Spike on Wikipedia.

Sheldon Mayer on Wikipedia.

More posts like this are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

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