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 logo on this cover is by Ira Schnapp, though the word COMICS is one that had been used on many previous DC titles. The open lettering in the captions is quite loose, not much like what Ira would do in a few years, though STARRING is in one of his classic scripts. 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. Many of the early covers had no lettering, but when they did more often later, Ira lettered them as well as quite a few stories inside.

Issue #2 has a new top line with a script STARRING unlike what Ira usually did, but I think it is by him. That topline was the only lettering for many later covers.

On issue #17 Ira has added a new caption listing the other features.

Issue #19 from 1951 is the first one with a more typical Schnapp caption.

Issue #24 has an open title that’s a bit too thin and almost closing up in spots. Ira would improve those in the future.

The color hasn’t reproduced well on this scan of issue #30, Dec 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. Note that the second color shape inside WESTERN has been removed and COMICS is shrinking.

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: 1-2, 17, 19, 23-32, 34-54, 56-57, 59, 61-65, 67-70, 72-85. That’s 61 covers.

Schnapp lettered more than one story in each of the first 13 issues, and quite a few after that. Here he’s given the open caption a shape somewhere between a scroll and a horse blanket. Ira also designed some of the feature logos including this one.

A page from the Vigilante story in the first issue. Vigilante had been featured in ACTION COMICS for a while, so had a longer history than the rest in this title. This is Ira’s typical story lettering from the time, with most letters fitting into a square.

Another feature Ira lettered for the first issue, and I really like his feature logo.

This feature began in issue #2 with another great Schnapp logo.

The first page of the Vigilante story in issue #3 has some appealing sign and title work by Schnapp.

Ira occasionally lettered short features like this one from issue #6.

Schnapp first lettered this feature in issue #8, and it also has one of his fine logos.

Another short feature Ira must have enjoyed working on, as he admired painters.

Here’s a page from the Nighthawk story in issue #15, June-July 1950. 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 ran in issue #50 March-April 1955.

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 Schnapp lettered in this title. Note that feature are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#1 Jan-Feb 1948: Rodeo Rick 8pp, Vigilante 12pp, Wyoming Kid 10pp

#2 March-April 1948: WK 10pp, RR 8pp, Vig 10pp, Cowboy Marshal 10pp

#3 May-June 1948: WK 10pp, Vig 10pp, RR 7pp, CM 9pp

#4 July-Aug 1948: WK 8pp, Vig 10pp, RR 8pp, CM 10pp

#5 Sept-Oct 1948: WK 10pp, RR 10pp, CM 10pp

#6 Nov-Dec 1948: WK 10pp, The Man Who Won Five States 4pp, CM 10pp

#7 Jan-Feb 1949: WK 8pp, RR 10pp, CM 10pp

#8 March-April 1949: WK 10pp,RR 8pp, The Nighthawk 8pp, CM 10pp

#9 May-June 1949: CM 10pp, RR 8pp

#10 July-Aug 1949: WK 10pp, RR 10pp, NH 8pp, CM 10pp

#11 Sept-Oct 1949: WK 10pp, RR 9pp, CM 8pp

#12 Dec 1949-Jan 1950: WK 8pp, NH 8pp, RR 9pp, CM 10pp

#13 Feb-March 1950: Charlie Russell 4pp, RR 8pp, CM 8pp

#15 June-July 1950: NH 8pp

#19 Jan 1951: NH 8pp

#20 Feb 1951: NH 8pp, CM 10pp

#21 March 1951: NH 8pp

#27 Sept 1951: RR 8pp

#28 Oct 1951: CM 10pp

#32 March-April 1952: WK 8pp

#37 Jan-Feb 1953: WK 8pp

#40 July-Aug 1953: WK 8pp

#42 Nov-Dec 1953: CM 6pp

#46 July-Aug 1954: RR 6pp

#50 March-April 1955: RR 6pp, WK 8pp

#51 May-June 1955: Pow-Wow Smith 6pp, RR 6pp

#52 July-Aug 1955: WK 6pp

#53 Sept-Oct 1955: WK 6pp

#54 Nov-Dec 1955: WK 6pp

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

#56 March-April 1956: WK 6pp

#59 Sept-Oct 1956: NH 6pp, WK 4pp

#62 March-April 1957: NH 6pp, WK 6pp

#69 May-June 1958: WK 6pp

That’s a total of 557 pages if I’ve counted right. 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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