Ira Schnapp in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS Part 2

worlds-finest-015fcThis and all images © DC Comics.

Determining which stories in WORLD’S FINEST were lettered by Ira Schnapp is the focus of this article, and on the early examples it’s not an easy task. For one thing, his style had not yet settled into the familiar one I see in many DC issues from 1946 on. For another, I don’t have great scans of some early issues. Let’s begin by looking at the story lettering for issue #15 dated Fall 1944, for which I do have good scans.

worlds-finest-015-03supnotschnappThe first story in most issues features Superman, and here’s the lettering in the opening caption. Could it be by Ira Schnapp?

worlds-finest-015-03detailcloserHere’s a closer look. It shares some letter shapes with Ira’s work, but in general it seems too wide. Further, the shape of the R with a very curved right leg and a loop that often doesn’t touch the left leg is quite different from what Ira usually did. So is the underlining on the word Democracy. There are other differences, too.

worlds-finest-015-04detailHere’s a section of lettering from the second story page. Again, there are some elements shared by Ira Schnapp’s work like the scalloped balloon shapes that sometimes overlap the panel above, but other elements are not similar, like the question mark and open sound effect.

afc0610_dovercloverdetailCompare it to this Schnapp lettering from ALL FUNNY COMICS #6 dated Spring 1945. I have to say the Superman example above is NOT by Ira Schnapp. Too bad, as the same letterer handled many of the early Superman stories in WORLD’S FINEST. Possibly he was working at the Shuster studio in Cleveland.

worlds-finest-015-16notschnappThe second feature is The Star-Spangled Kid, and the lettering on it looks nothing like Ira’s work. First, it’s made with a different type of pen that gives much broader horizontal strokes than vertical ones. Second, that open title lettering is pretty awful and nothing Ira would ever do! And it’s generally too uneven.

worlds-finest-015-26zataranotschnappThe third feature, Zatara, has lettering this is somewhat similar to Ira’s work, but most of the strokes are more curved, particularly on the N, M and W. Again, not Ira.

worlds-finest-015-36Next up is Green Arrow with more lettering that is definitely not like that of Ira Schnapp.

worlds-finest-015-49boycommnotschnappThe fifth feature is The Boy Commandos by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The lettering on this story does not look like that of Ira Schnapp, and I think it’s by Simon and Kirby studio letterer Howard Ferguson.

worlds-finest-015-61everymannotschnappThe sixth feature, John Everyman, is interesting because it’s written by editor Jack Schiff, so definitely produced out of the DC offices, and the feature is a precursor to the public-service one-pagers Schiff was later best known for. The lettering does not look like Schnapp’s work, though. It’s too uneven, it uses the thick and thin strokes, and the title is again not something he would do.

worlds-finest-015-70batmannotschnappThe final feature in the issue stars Batman with Robin, and once more the lettering does not look at all like Ira Schnapp’s work. The art is by Jerry Robinson, who started working in Bob Kane’s studio but by this time was working directly for DC.

So, no Ira Schnapp lettering in WORLD’S FINEST #15, and I did not find any in issues 2 to 14 either. Let’s move forward from there.

worlds-finest-016-06supermanHere’s the Superman story from WORLD’S FINEST #16 dated Winter 1944. The scans I have of this issue are not as good, so a closer look is blurry, but…

worlds-finest-016-06detail…compare this to the sample from issue 15:

worlds-finest-015-04detailLooks pretty close. I think the story in issue 16 is by the same letterer as 15, not Schnapp.

worlds-finest-016-30zataraThe Zatara story in issue !6: same letterer as issue 15? Maybe.

worlds-finest-016-30detailA closer look shows some letters are more curved than what Schnapp usually did, and the exclamation marks are different, too. Pretty close in some ways, but probably not by Schnapp.

worlds-finest-016-40boycommThe Boy Commandos story in issue 16 has lettering that’s completely different from issue 15, and I see a lot of Ira Schnapp in it. Yes, it’s wider than what he did later, and the R is different in that the loop is not joined, but many other elements suggest Ira to me, including the question mark, the balloon shapes and the sound effects.

worlds-finest-016-40detailA closer look. Could be early Ira Schnapp lettering. The Grand Comics Database credits the art to Louis Cazenueve, probably working for the Simon/Kirby studio, so that makes lettering by Schnapp less likely, but still possible, since everyone was in New York.

worlds-finest-016-62everymanBut here’s the John Everyman feature from issue 16, which was surely produced out of the DC offices. This lettering looks very much like Ira Schnapp’s work to me.

worlds-finest-016-62detailEverything here seems right for Ira Schnapp, from the question mark to the R to the balloon shapes. It’s still not as regular or quite as square as his later work, but I think this is definitely lettered by Ira.

worlds-finest-016-71The Batman and Robin story from #16 again has lettering very different from the same feature in #15.

worlds-finest-016-71detailI see a lot of Ira Schnapp elements here, too. The art is again credited to Jerry Robinson, but since he was working directly for DC, Ira could easily have lettered it. I think it is by Schnapp.

worlds-finest-017-37Moving on to issue #17 dated Spring 1945, I see a lot of Schnapp style in this Boy Commandos story, which has a similar style to issue 16.

worlds-finest-017-37detailAll the letters here, including the R, are very much like those Ira Schnapp used later. I think this is definitely lettered by him, and I now vote for his work on the Boy Commandos story in 16 too.

worlds-finest-018-03supermanOn to issue #18 dated Summer 1945, is this Superman story lettered by Ira? It does not look like the work of the earlier Superman letterer, and the THE in the title is very Schnapp-like.

worlds-finest-018-07supermandetailA closer look at one panel from the story has me less sure. This is still looking too wide and the very long curved tails on the R seem wrong for Ira. Probably not him.

worlds-finest-018-36boycommandosOn the other hand, the Boy Commandos story in #18 looks a lot like Ira Schnapp work, particularly the story title.

worlds-finest-018-39boycommdetailHere’s part of another page of that story, and everything I see here looks like the work of Schnapp.

worlds-finest-018-66everymanAs does the lettering on John Everyman. Definitely by Ira.

worlds-finest-019-03supermanThe Superman lead story in WORLD’S FINEST #19 dated Autumn 1945 has an opening caption with a fanciful cloud border and script title that look very much like the work of Ira Schnapp to me.

worlds-finest-019-05supermandetailA detail from later in the story confirms for me that this is lettered by Schnapp. Everything is right, including the straight right legs of the R and very square letters.

worlds-finest-019-18The Green Arrow story in #19 is also lettered by Ira Schnapp…

worlds-finest-019-29…as is the Zatara story. Ira’s work is becoming more regular and even, probably from the increase in his workload around this time, and settling into the style he continued with for many years.

worlds-finest-019-66batrobThe Batman and Robin story in #19 is also lettered by Schnapp, and look at the huge amount of work on this page, including newspaper headlines and a script letter! Man, that must have taken a while. Ira’s ability to handle just about anything must have been attractive to editor Jack Schiff, and he continued to give Schnapp lots of stories to letter.

worlds-finest-026-03supRather than make this article much longer, I’m just going to list all the stories I believe are lettered by Ira Schnapp, many with very familiar and recognizable titles like the one above from the Superman story in issue #26 dated Jan.-Feb. 1947. For the record, here we go:

WORLD’S FINEST #16 Winter 1944: Boy Commandos 11 pages, Everyman 8 pages, Batman 12 pages.

(NOTE: this issue would have gone on sale around October or early November and the work would have been done a month or two earlier, bringing us back to late summer of 1944, now the earliest Schnapp story lettering work I’ve found.)

WF #17 Spring ’45: Boy Commandos 11 pages

WF #18 Summer ’45: Boy Commandos 10 pp, Everyman 8 pp

WF #19 Autumn ’45: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #20 Winter ’45: Green Arrow 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #21 March-April 1946: Boy Commandos 12 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #22 May-June ’46: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Boy Commandos 12 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #23 July-Aug. ’46: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #24 Sept.-Oct. ’46: Superman 13 pp, Zatara 8 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp (balloons by the artist), Batman 13 pp

WF #25 Nov.-Dec. ’46: Superman 12 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #26 Jan.-Feb. 1947: Superman 12 pp, Zatara 8 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #27 March-April ’47: Superman 12 pp, Zatara 8 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Batman 13 pp

WF #28 May-June ’47: Superman 12 pp, Boy Comm. 11 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 13 pp

WF #29 July-Aug. ’47: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Batman 13 pp

WF #30 Sept.-Oct. ’47: Superman 13 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Boy Comm. 13 pp, Everyman 8 pp, Batman 13 pp

WF #31 Nov.-Dec. ’47: Zatara 7 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Boy Comm. 13 pp, Batman 13 pp

WF #32 Jan.-Feb. 1948: Batman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Superman 13 pp

WF #33 March-April ’48: Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Batman 12 pp

worldsfinest_034_17WF #34 May-June ’48: Superman 12 pp, Tomahawk 8 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 7 pp

WF #35 July-Aug. ’48: Superman 10 pp, Tomahawk 8 pp, Boy Comm. 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 7 pp

WF #36 Sept.-Oct. ’48: Doc & Fatty 8 pp (humor, possibly inventory from ALL FUNNY COMICS), Boy Comm. 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #37 Nov.-Dec. ’48: Superman 12 pp, All About People 8 pp (public service story), Boy Comm. 12 pp, Green Arrow 8 pp, Zatara 7 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #38 Jan.-Feb. 1949: Green Arrow 10 pp, Doc & Fatty 8 pp, Zatara 6 pp

WF #39 March-April ’49: Make Way For Youth 8 pp (public service), Zatara 6 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #40 May-June ’49: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Doc & Fatty 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #41 July-Aug. ’49: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Doc & Fatty 8 pp, Zatara 6 pp, Batman 12 pp

wf042-pg36WF #42 Sept.-Oct. ’49: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Doc & Fatty 8 pp, The Wyoming Kid 9 pp, Batman 13 pp

WF #43 Dec. ’49 – Jan. ’50: Superman 12 pp, Wyoming Kid 10 pp, Full-steam Foley 10 pp (tugboat skipper), Green Arrow 8 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #44 Feb.-March ’50: Superman 12 pp, Full-steam 10pp, Microbe Tamer 4 pp (science history), Batman 12 pp

WF #45 April-May ’50: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Renegade Train Boss 4 pp (historical), Zatara 6 pp, Full-steam 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #46 June-July ’50: Superman 12 pp, Green Arrow 10 pp, Full-steam 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #47 Aug.-Sept. ’50: Superman 12 pp, Full-steam 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #48 Oct.-Nov. ’50: Superman 12 pp, Zatara 6 pp, Full-steam 10 pp

WF #49 Dec. ’50 – Jan. ’51: Green Arrow 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #50 Feb.-March ’51: Batman 12 pp

WF #51 April-Many ’51: Batman 12 pp

WF #52 June-July ’51: Green Arrow 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #53 Aug.-Sept. ’51: Wyoming Kid 8 pp

WF #54 Oct.-Nov. ’51: Superman 12 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #55 Dec. ’51 – Jan. ’52: Batman 12 pp

WF #56 Jan.-Feb. ’52: Wyoming Kid 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #57 March-April ’52: Batman 12 pp

WF #58  May-June ’52: Batman 12 pp

WF #59 July-Aug. ’52: Wyoming Kid 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #60 Sept.-Oct. ’52: Batman 12 pp

WF #61 Nov.-Dec. ’52: Green Arrow 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

None in WF #62

WF #63 March-April ’53: Wyoming Kid 10 pp, Batman 12 pp

WF #64 May-June ’53: Wyoming Kid 10 pp

WF #65 July-Aug. ’53: Batman 12 pp

WF #66 Sept.-Oct. ’53: Batman 12 pp

WF #67 Nov.-Dec. ’53: Dover & Clover 4 pp (humor)

WF #68 Jan.-Feb. ’54: Green Arrow 10 pp, Two-gun Percy 5 pp (humor)

WF #69 March-April ’54: Two-gun Percy 5 pp

WF #70 May-June ’54: Jimminy 4 pp (fantasy, balloons by artist)

When the page count shrunk drastically with issue #71, Ira Schnapp’s story lettering mostly stopped. He lettered only a few stories after that, probably filling in for the regular letterers. Note that, while I checked all the lead stories, I didn’t check every backup story in those issues.

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

WF #116 March 1961: Superman & Batman 13 pp

WF #124 March 1962: Superman & Batman 13 pp

WF #129 Nov. 1962: Superman & Batman 13 pp, Green Arrow 7 pp

WF #130 Dec. 1962: Superman & Batman 13 pp, Aquaman 7 pp

Lead feature checks through 1965 did not turn up any later stories lettered by Ira in WORLD’S FINEST. Still, consider how much he did do. If my math is right, that’s 1,763 pages just on this title, and many of them with about twice the lettering of most of today’s comics. Hang on, folks, I’ve only scratched the surface of Ira Schnapp’s story lettering. In fact, I think he did far more in the humor and licensed titles than in the super-hero ones. Truly a prolific letterer!

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *