Ira Schnapp in WESTERN COMICS

This and all images © DC Comics

With this January 1948 title, DC jumped on the western comics bandwagon. Sales of superheroes were falling, and all comics publishers were looking for new genres to gain new readers. Westerns had been popular at least since the dime novels of the 1800s, and it was a natural move for comics. The editing team was led by Jack Schiff with his assistants Murray Boltinoff and George Kashdan. The lettering and probably also the logo on this cover is by the unknown person I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp because I believe he was an older letterer working on staff at DC whose work was a model for Ira’s own lettering. Some of the styles are similar to things Ira did, but there’s a looser, bouncier, more cartoony quality to much of it that Ira rarely achieved. The word COMICS is one that had been used on many previous DC titles. This book ran to issue #85 dated Jan/Feb 1961 and was always an anthology featuring several continuing strips in each issue, but rotating in new ones periodically. Proto-Schnapp did a lot of the cover and interior lettering on early issues.

Here’s the first cover I think was lettered by Ira Schnapp, issue #19 dated January 1951. Notice how Ira used some styles similar to Proto-Schnapp, but his was generally more even and regular.

Issue #24, June 1951 is an interesting mix. The top line is by Proto-Schnapp, carried over from an earlier issue. The rest is by Ira, but he’s tried to imitate Proto’s S in STARRING in his word SUDDEN, and given his open story title more bounce than usual to better match the top line. The balloons are pure Ira.

The color hasn’t reproduced well on this scan of issue #30, December 1951, but I thought the use of different colors in the open title was interesting, and also the fact that it’s in a word balloon rather than a caption.

Ira’s open titles usually followed familiar patterns, but here on issue #40, Sept/Oct 1953, he’s artfully extended the bottoms of FF in BLUFF to give it an art deco feel. The F in FEATURING is also handsome.

Issue #77, Sept/Oct 1959, showcases a new feature about a cattle drive trail boss, perhaps trying to attract fans of the TV show “Rawhide” that began earlier that year.

The final issue’s cover includes a nice example of Ira Schnapp’s most familiar open story title style seen on so many DC covers.

These are the covers I think are lettered by Ira: 19, 24-28, 30-32, 34-54, 56-57, 59, 61-65, 67-70, 72-85. That’s 55 covers.

Here’s an example of Proto-Schnapp story lettering from the first issue. Notice the generally wide letters and the curled C’s in the larger lettering, also the emphasized words in the top two panels are bold but not italic.

The first story I think is lettered by Ira is this one from issue #10, July/Aug 1949. Notice the narrower letters overall, and the emphasized words are bold and italic, as per Ira’s usual style.

Here’s a page from the second story that I think was lettered by Ira, the Nighthawk feature in issue #15, June/July 1950. Proto-Schnapp’s work was fading out around this time, and Ira did a small but consistent number of stories from here on. When the editing was handed over to Julius Schwartz with issue #43, Julie’s on-staff letterer Gaspar Saladino began lettering many of the stories.

This Wyoming Kid story lettered by Ira in issue #50 March/April 1955, uses a logo done much earlier by Proto-Schnapp when the title was beginning.

This page from issue #69, May/June 1958, is typical of Ira’s work at the time. One reason editors liked his lettering was because it was about the smallest of anyone working for DC then, and many of their stories needed lots of lettering.

Here are the stories I believe Ira lettered in this title:

#10 July/Aug 1949: Nighthawk 8pp

#15 June/July 1950: Nighthawk 8pp

#20 Feb 1951: Nighthawk 8pp, Cowboy Marshal 10pp

#21 March 1951: Nighthawk 8pp

#27 Sept 1951: Rodeo Rick 8pp

#28 Oct 1951: Cowboy Marshal 10pp

#32 March/April 1952: Wyoming Kid 8pp

#37 Jan/Feb 1953: Wyoming Kid 8pp

#40 July/Aug 1953: Wyoming Kid 8pp

#42 Nov/Dec 1953: Cowboy Marshal 6pp

#46 July/Aug 1954: Rodeo Rick 6pp

#50 March/April 1955: Rodeo Rick 6pp, Wyoming Kid 8pp

#51 May/June 1955: Pow-Wow Smith 6pp, Rodeo Rick 6pp

#52 July/Aug 1955: Wyoming Kid 6pp

#53 Sept/Oct 1955: Wyoming Kid 6pp

#54 Nov/Dec 1955: Wyoming Kid 6pp

#55 Jan/Feb 1956: Colorful Western Names 1pp

#56 March/April 1956: Wyoming Kid 6pp

#59 Sept/Oct 1956: Nighthawk 6pp, Wyoming Kid 4pp

#62 March/April 1957: Nighthawk 6pp, Wyoming Kid 6pp

#69 May/June 1958: Wyoming Kid 6pp

That’s a total of 175 pages if I’ve counted right. Not a lot for Ira. More articles in this series can be found on the Comics Creation page of my blog along with many other letterer articles.

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