Ira Schnapp in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD

Images © DC Comics

In 1955, DC began a new adventure title that went through several incarnations. Initially it was an anthology featuring fighting heroes from the past, as seen on the cover of the first issue, above. With issue #25, it became a tryout book like DC’s SHOWCASE, most famously for The Justice League of America. With issue #50 it became a team-up title allowing DC heroes and heroines who did not normally interact to appear together. After #75, Batman was featured in every team-up until the series ended with #200 in 1983, so it essentially became a Batman title. The editor in the original adventure anthology was Robert Kanigher. For the tryout issues, each feature had an editor, so it was a rotating assignment, and for the later team-up series the most frequent editors were Murray Boltinoff and George Kashdan, though others sometimes filled that role.

Ira Schnapp designed the large logo in a waving banner that would continue to be used for many years, though it got smaller later. The letters are Ira’s own mix of Old English and classic serif font styles. The rest of the cover is set in type on this issue, but Ira lettered most of the covers until issue #77 in 1968. He also designed many character logos for the book’s covers and interior title pages, but only lettered two story pages inside.

Here are the logos Ira designed for the three features in the first issue, with Golden Gladiator based on the ancient Roman font used on Trajan’s Column and the other two using versions of his Old English style. Ira’s work added an old world elegance to the features.

Issue #2 has the kind of caption that Schnapp often lettered for these early issues, and this one was used again on issue #3. More often he did new variations on the same theme.

Issue #5 highlights the addition of Robin Hood, replacing The Golden Gladiator, with a small but appealing character logo. This is also the first cover in the series with a Schnapp word balloon. The following year DC would publish ROBIN HOOD TALES, continuing the Quality Comics series.

This series gave Ira lots of chances to use his Old English technique, as on the cover of issue #10 from 1957.

For issues #23 and 24, Ira redid the series title at a much smaller size and added a flagpole at the left end which the banner flies from, leaving room for a new character logo for The Viking Prince. Issue #24 was the last in this iteration and featured two long stories as described in Schnapp’s handsome caption.

The small version of the title logo continued to be used for a long time. Here it is on #25 from 1959, the first of the tryout issues featuring a new logo by Ira for Suicide Squad. It has some Art Deco characteristics, and is very bold and demanding of attention. I would have picked this book up if I’d seen it. The caption is set in type that looks like actual typewriter text, and probably is. Kanigher was the editor for this feature, whose tryout ran three issues, and there was a second run on issues #37-39.

This is the tryout that had the most lasting effect, featuring the first large-scale team-up of DC’s most popular heroes since the demise of The Justice Society of America in ALL-STAR COMICS in 1951, and edited by Julius Schwartz in issues #28-30 of this series. Ira Schnapp’s new logo for the team is, I think, one of his best. The bold letters reversed on a black shield with stars and inset areas to create a red, white and blue theme look great. Ira also did the cover lettering. JLA went on next to their own very long series using the same logo.

The third tryout series was Cave Carson, who appeared in issues 31-33 and 40-41. Ira Schnapp’s logo creates an appropriate illusion of great depth on INSIDE EARTH, reminding me of some science fiction movie logos. CAVE CARSON is in the script style he sometimes used on covers. The feature was edited by Jack Schiff. I thought it was a great idea, but it must not have sold enough to get its own series.

The second successful tryout was Hawkman, who appeared in issues 34-36 and 42-44 before landing his own series. Like The Flash and others, it was a revamped Golden Age character edited by Julius Schwartz, part of his Silver Age superhero revival that fans loved. Ira Schnapp’s Hawkman logo is again, I think, one of his best efforts, and the logo of his that’s most reminiscent of the Trajan style from Rome that Ira worked with in his youth. The pointed serifs give it more bite than many of Schnapp’s logos, and are fitting for the hawk theme. Ira also lettered the caption and signs. Hawkman moved into his own series using the same logo.

With their second tryout run Suicide Squad gained a new top line in their logo, TASK FORCE X. Ira’s caption reads, “Back by Popular Request!”, but it must not have sold well enough to gain a series. In 1987, a new version emerged with a new long series.

From issues #45-49, Julius Schwartz presented STRANGE SPORTS STORIES, an odd anthology that combined sports with mystery and science fiction themes. Despite the long tryout, it did not gain a series until 1973. Schnapp’s curved logo for STRANGE SPORTS allows room for the other parts of the logo in the openings, making a well-balanced design. This logo again uses some Art Deco elements, particularly in the letter S.

With issue #50 the series changed again to a team-up book, and Ira was often called on to letter character logos, either because the character didn’t have one, or didn’t have one that would fit in the logo space. Here he letters both character names in similar styles to create a pleasing design, and also the thought balloon.

For issue #51 in 1964, Ira reworked his Aquaman logo to fit a narrower space, though his Hawkman one needed no changes.

Issue #52 featured Robert Kanigher war heroes with a busy new logo by Schnapp and character heads by Joe Kubert. Schnapp did a similar logo for 6 Battle Stars on OUR ARMY AT WAR #164 a year or two later.

For issue #53, Ira did a narrower version of his THE ATOM logo, while his THE FLASH logo could be used as is.

Issue #54 in 1964 saw the beginnings of The Teen Titans in this teamup story with three new character logos in similar styles by Schnapp. Despite so many words in these logos, Ira made them work without crowding.

For issue #55, Ira created a wider and less tall version of his METAL MEN logo, while THE ATOM could be used as is.

For issue #56, Ira made a narrower version of his FLASH logo and a new logo for MANHUNTER FROM MARS. THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD PRESENTS was the main unifying theme of all these teamup issues, but they were also unified by Ira Schnapp’s distinctive logo and cover lettering style.

For issues #57-58, the series went back, briefly, to being a tryout title, introducing METAMORPHO, THE ELEMENT MAN, a new character created by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon. Schnapp’s logo has a handsome curved upper line, and the coloring adds interest. The character was popular enough to continue right into his own series using the same logo.

For issue #59, the first of many Batman teamups, Ira was finally able to use existing logos for both characters and just focus on the cover lettering.

With issue #60, the teamup from issue #54 added Wonder Girl and officially gained the name TEEN TITANS, with a new logo by Schnapp, which uses thick block letters and a telescoped drop shadow. The team moved into their own series using the same logo in 1966.

Issue #61 featured two Golden Age heroes that were returning with the rest of the Justice Society of America in annual appearances in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. The concept of heroes from different eras appearing together seemed to appeal to fans, and editor Julius Schwartz kept promoting them. This cover has too much lettering by Ira Schnapp, but I do like his character logos.

Batman’s second teamup came in issue #64, and he appeared more and more often until with #75 he was in every issue. Here he stars with Eclipso using the logo Ira Schnapp created for his HOUSE OF MYSTERY appearances. The logo area is crowded, and the caption is too large, but we’re now in that most dismal time for cover designs at DC.

Issue #77 from 1968 is the last one with Schnapp cover lettering, and his caption is full of bounce and energy, perhaps in an attempt to mimic what his replacement, Gaspar Saladino, was doing in cover lettering. Ira would soon leave the company and Gaspar would take over most of the covers and logos for a number of years.

Here are the covers lettered by Ira Schnapp (not counting repeats): 2, 4-21, 23-24, 26-39, 41-71, 73-77. That’s 71 in all.

Most of the inside stories in the initial adventure hero run of 24 issues were lettered by Gaspar Saladino. Gaspar also lettered most of the Julius Schwartz and Robert Kanigher tryout issues, and some of the later team-up ones. The only story lettering by Schnapp is this two-page filler from issue #31, supporting the first Cave Carson appearance.

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

The Brave and The Bold on Wikipedia, with details on the characters in each issue.

One thought on “Ira Schnapp in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD

  1. David Goldfarb

    I was thinking that Brave and the Bold was a Superman team-up book briefly, but no — that was World’s Finest.

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