Ira Schnapp in TIME MASTER and SEA DEVILS

Images © DC Comics

SHOWCASE #20-21 and 25-26 presented this science fiction adventure series that would soon move into its own title in 1961. The logo was by Ira Schnapp. Rip was an inventor who used his vehicle The Time Sphere to explore a variety of times and places with his friend Jeff Smith, girlfriend Bonnie Baxter, and Bonnie’s kid brother Corky. The editor was Jack Schiff with his assistants George Kashdan and Murray Boltinoff. As you can see, right from the start the adventures veered away from science fiction into fantasy, but the time travel idea was appealing and readers liked it enough to keep the title going for 29 issues.

More evidence of the unlikely stories presented from the first issue of 1961. Written largely by Jack Miller, the series was long on action and short on logic, but that was true of most DC Comics titles at the time. Ira Schnapp lettered all the covers, but none of the stories inside.

Issue two presents a rare close look at The Time Sphere and an even sillier monster. Ira’s lettering followed the style he used for all the DC covers and helped sell the ideas.

If the recent past wasn’t wild enough, how about a million years ago? DC liked to use the phrase “3-Part Novel,” but this merely meant an issue-length story in three chapters totaling about 24 pages, usually.

When they weren’t facing dinosaurs and aliens, Rip and company had some interesting encounters elsewhere in history, as here with Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in ancient China, all explained in Ira’s lettering.

Issue #20 from 1964 has a rare depiction of Hitler on a DC cover. There weren’t many, even during World War Two. Rip and his crew have gained uniforms of their own here.

Issue #23 has the time travelers meeting George Washington. There are two unusual things about Schnapp’s caption: first, it fills a picture frame in the art, and second, it ends with three question marks.

On issue #27 from 1966, Ira uses a riveted metal treatment for the word ROBOT in his caption.

The final issue goes all-in on giant monsters with a creepy spider. Rip might survive that, but he couldn’t survive poor sales, which likely ended the run. Rip and company would return in later series. Ira Schnapp lettered all 29 TIME MASTER covers.

Also beginning in SHOWCASE issues #27-29, SEA DEVILS was about undersea adventurers. The team consisted of leader Dane Dorrance, Biff Bailey, Judy Walton (Dane’s girlfriend), and Nicky Walton (Judy’s younger brother). Under exciting covers by Russ Heath and colorist Jack Adler, they also were soon facing fantastic opponents, as seen here. Once again, Ira Schnapp designed the logo, and there’s another use of three question marks in the caption.

Their series also began in 1961 a few months after RIP HUNTER, and ran to 35 issues in 1967. Ira Schnapp lettered this and most of the covers, but none of the stories inside, many of which were lettered by Gaspar Saladino. The book was edited and sometimes written by Robert Kanigher. The top caption reading “By popular demand!” is probably hyperbole from Kanigher. Sales figures on the first SHOWCASE appearance were probably not in yet when this first issue was sent to the printer. Russ Heath’s realistic art certainly sold the book to readers, and Ira’s lettering helped too.

Colorist Jack Adler used gray washes to add modeling and depth to the covers, creating the separations himself. On this one he removed the black outline from Ira’s caption box.

For issue #3, Ira used a spooky style for the word GHOST in his caption. The storytelling was so clear on these covers that many didn’t need any word balloons (and that avoided the problem of how they could speak underwater, too.)

The cover of issue #13 from 1963 has an interesting split view and lots of caption lettering by Schnapp. I think that top blurb is more hyperbole from Kanigher.

Issue #17 has two radio balloons suggesting the divers can communicate that way, even though the woman’s mouth is in the water. How did that work? And where’s her breathing tube? I guess you had to read the issue to see if this made sense!

Issue #25 from 1965 has a different style of radio balloon by Ira, and I like the use of color in his story title as well as the water-wavy banner at the top.

The final issue has a somewhat squashed caption at the top by Ira, and is not helped by those awful “go-go checks.” Here are the covers lettered by Schnapp: 1-23, 25-29, 31, 33–35. That’s 32 in all.

Rip Hunter on Wikipedia.

Sea Devils on Wikipedia.

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

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