Ira Schnapp in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS Part 2

From early 1940 to some time in 1943, the main letterer on Superman stories and newspaper strips was Joe Shuster’s brother Frank. Above is the final panel from what I think is the final Superman story he lettered for WORLD’S FINEST. Superman was the lead story in each issue for many years, but followed by many other stories featuring other DC characters including Batman. There are two important style points in this panel: Frank’s question marks, which are a single loop over a period, and his THE END, which is always all capitals in a box. Frank’s lettering was generally wide, and his R’s were distinctive because the loop often did not connect to the left leg, and the right leg had an upward curve.

The Superman story in the following issue has very similar lettering, but notice the question marks. They have a double curve similar to a backwards S and are very small.

The final panel of the story has a different style for THE END using cursive letters for part of it. Both these style points are typical of the work of Ira Schnapp. I believe he was imitating Frank’s style beginning with this story in issue #11, and he lettered many Superman stories as well as ones with other characters through the 1940s and early 1950s. After that his work diminished in this series and became sporadic.

Zatara was another feature that I think Ira began lettering with issue #13. The example above is from #14. Ira was again imitating the lettering style from previous stories, including a different type of exclamation point, but his characteristic question mark appears in panels two and four. Some of the other letters are more rounded than what he usually did, again following what had gone before.

Schnapp first lettered the Batman feature in issue #16. His style here is similar to what he was also doing on the Batman newspaper strip around this time.

Schnapp also began lettering the Boy Commandos feature in issue #16, taking over from Simon and Kirby letterer Howard Ferguson. Ira did not try as hard to imitate Ferguson’s style, which used a wedge-tipped pen.

A new feature, Johnny Everyman, began in issue #17 from 1945 with lettering and a logo by Schnapp. The signature in the opening caption is very Ira.

With issue #19, Ira also began lettering Green Arrow. DC and editor Schiff must have liked his work and kept offering him more. Ira must have been reliable and a fast worker, and he produced an amazing amount of lettering.

This Batman story from issue #23 of 1946 has an interesting decorative border around the caption. It’s a style that Ira used occasionally in the 1940s but rarely after that.

Green Arrow had used a repeating logo for a few years, you can see it in the example from issue #19 above, but this story has a different one that might have been designed by Schnapp, though I can’t be sure. It was also used on some Green Arrow stories in ADVENTURE COMICS.

By issue #32 from 1948, Ira had dropped the style imitations in Zatara, and was using the style that would become his regular one for decades, with most letters fitting into a square, small and even.

Starting in issue #34, Ira sometimes lettered Tomahawk. I don’t know if he designed the elaborate border on this caption, but he might have.

DC was always trying out new features in WORLD’S FINEST. This was a short humor one that Ira lettered in issue #36.

Ira lettered this eight page public service story in issue #37 written by Jack Schiff (adapting a book by Eva Knox Evans). Schiff wrote many single-page public service pages that ran across many titles at DC, and they were often lettered by Ira.

Another western feature with a handsome logo by Ira had a story lettered by him in issue #42.

A short-lived one from issue #43 with a logo by Schnapp.

This Batman page from issue #55 of 1951 has the overabundance of lettering typical of the time, and an interesting handwritten note probably by Schnapp, at least the writing part.

Another short humor feature from issue #62 with a logo by the artist.

Jimminy by Howard Post was a delight, but not a big seller for DC. This short one lettered by Ira is the only such appearance in the series in issue #70 from 1954.

When the book length was shortened with issue #71 and Superman, Batman and Robin began appearing together, Ira created this new header using his Superman logo and the Batman one by Jerry Robinson with his Robin addition.

Backup stories in WORLD’S FINEST were whatever was popular at the time, or what DC hoped would be. In issue #94 from 1958, Ira lettered a Tomahawk story.

And for issue #130 from 1962, Ira lettered Aquaman. It was the last issue with any Schnapp story lettering, though he also did the Superman and Batman story in it.

Below is a list of all the stories I believe are lettered by Ira Schnapp. Note that features are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#11 Fall 1943: Superman 13pp

#12 Winter 1943: Sup 12pp

#13 Spring 1944: Sup 12pp, Zatara 8pp

#14 Summer 1944: Sup 12pp, Zat 8pp

#15 Fall 1944: Zat 8pp

#16 Winter 1944: Sup 13pp, Zat 8pp, Boy Commandos 11pp, Batman 12pp

#17 Spring 1945: Sup 12pp, Zat 8pp, BC 11pp, Johnny Everyman 8pp

#18 Summer 1945: Sup 12pp, Zat 8pp, BC 10pp, JE 8pp

#19 Fall 1945: Sup 12pp, Green Arrow 10pp, Zat 8pp, BC 12pp, JE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#20 Winter 1945: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 7pp, BC 12pp, JE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#21 March-April 1946: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 8pp, BC 12pp, JE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#22 May-June 1946: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 8pp, BC 12pp, JE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#23 July-Aug 1946: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 8pp, BC 12pp, JE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#24 Sept-Oct 1946: Sup 12pp, Zat 8pp, JE 8pp, GA 10pp, Bat 13pp

#25 Nov-Dec 1946: Sup 12pp, Zat 8pp, BC 12ppJE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#26 Jan-Feb 1947: Sup 12pp, Zat 8pp, JE 8pp, Bat 12pp

#27 March-April 1947: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 8pp, BC 12pp, Bat 13pp

#28 May-June 1947: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, BC 11pp, Zat 7pp, JE 8pp, Bat 13pp

#29 July-Aug 1947: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, BC 12pp, Zat 7pp, Bat 13pp

#30 Sept-Oct 1947: Sup 13pp, GA 10pp, Zat 7pp, BC 13pp, JE 8pp, Bat 13pp

#31 Nov-Dec 1947: Sup 12pp, Zat 7pp, GA 10pp, BC 13pp, Bat 13pp

#32 Jan-Feb 1948: Bat 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 7pp, Sup 13pp

#33 March-April 1948: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 7pp, BC 12pp, Bat 12pp

#34 May-June 1948: Sup 12pp, Tomahawk 8pp, BC 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 7pp

#35 July-Aug 1948: Sup 10pp, Tom 10pp, BC 12pp, Zat 7pp, Bat 12pp

#36 Sept-Oct 1948: Doc & Fatty 8pp, BC 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 7pp, Bat 12pp

#37 Nov-Dec 1948: Sup 12pp, About People 8pp, BC 12pp, GA 8pp, Zat 7pp, Bat 12pp

#38 Jan-Feb 1949: GA 10pp, D&F 8pp, Zat 6pp

#39 March-April 1949: May Way For Youth 8pp, Zat 6pp, Bat 12pp

#40 May-June 1949: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, D&F 8pp, Bat 12pp

#41 July-Aug 1949: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, D&F 8pp, Zat 6pp, Bat 12pp

#42 Sept-Oct 1949: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, D&F 8pp, Wyoming Kid 10pp, Bat 13pp

#43 Nov-Dec 1949: Sup 12pp, WK 10pp, Full Steam Foley 10pp, GA 8pp, Bat 12pp

#44 Feb-March 1950: Sup 12pp, FSF 10pp, Bat 12pp

#45 April-May 1950: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, Zat 6pp, FSF 10pp, Bat 12pp

#46 June-July 1950: Sup 12pp, GA 10pp, FSF 10pp, Bat 12pp

#47 Aug-Sept 1950: Sup 12pp, FSF 10pp, Bat 12pp

#48 Oct-Nov 1950: Sup 12pp, FSF 10pp

#49 Dec 1950-Jan 1951: GA 10pp, Bat 12pp

#50 Feb-March 1951: Bat 12pp

#51 April-May 1951: Bat 12pp

#52 June-July 1951: GA 10pp, Bat 12pp

#53 Aug-Sept 1951: WK 10pp

#54 Oct-Nov 1951: Sup 12pp, Bat 12pp

#55 Dec 1951-Jan 1952: Bat 12pp

#56 Jan-Feb 1952: WK 10pp, Bat 12pp

#57 March-April 1952: Bat 12pp

#58 May-June 1952: Bat 12pp

#59 July-Aug 1952: WK 10pp, Bat 12pp

#60 Sept-Oct 1952: Bat 12pp

#61 Nov-Dec 1952: GA 10pp, Bat 12pp

#62 Jan-Feb 1953: Super-Sleuth McFooey 4pp

#63 March-April 1953: WK 10pp, Bat 12pp

#64 May-June 1953: WK 10pp

#65 July-Aug 1953: Bat 12pp

#66 Sept-Oct 1953: Bat 12pp

#67 Nov-Dec 1953: Dover & Clover 4pp

#68 Jan-Feb 1954: GA 10pp, Two-Gun Percy 5pp

#69: March-April 1954: 2Gun 5pp

#70 May-June 1954: Jimminy 4pp

#94 May-June 1958: Tom 6pp, GA 6pp

#95 July-Aug 1958: Superman & Batman 12 pp

#98 Dec 1958: Tom 6pp

#116 March 1961: S&B 13 pp

#124 March 1962: S&B 13 pp

#129 Nov 1962: S&B 13 pp, GA 6 pp

#130 Dec 1962: S&B 13 pp, Aquaman 7 pp

If my math is right, that’s 2,066 pages just on this title, and many of them with about twice the lettering of most of today’s comics.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this article, others you might like can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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