Ira Schnapp in YOUNG ROMANCE

Images © DC Comics

Like many comics pioneers, the team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby tried all kinds of themes in comics. They essentially launched the very popular romance or love comics genre with this title in 1947 for Crestwood Publications in their Prize line. The book was so successful that many publishers were soon turning out more romance titles. The book sold millions of copies and ran to issue #124 dated June/July 1963 at Prize. Then Crestwood decided to get out of the comics business and sold YOUNG ROMANCE and its sister title YOUNG LOVE to DC Comics, where it joined the other DC romance books FALLING IN LOVE, GIRL’S LOVE STORIES, HEART THROBS, and SECRET HEARTS. The editor was Larry Nadle initially, then Jack Miller, according to the Grand Comics Database. The original logo was probably designed by Joe Simon, and the balloons on the first issue cover are by the studio’s main letterer at the time, Howard Ferguson.

By the final Prize issue, above, a new more informal logo was being used that I think was probably designed either by Joe Simon and Ben Oda, or by Ben alone. It had begun on issue #107 in 1960. Certainly the cover lettering looks like the work of Ben Oda.

For the first DC issue, #125 dated Aug/Sept 1963, Ira Schnapp created his own version of the previous logo which used the same letter shapes but in a more formal and less bouncy design. Close enough to attract Prize readers, I would say. The cover lettering on this issue is by Gaspar Saladino, who only did covers occasionally at the time, probably when Ira wasn’t available. DC did well with the title, and it ran to issue #208 in 1975. Schnapp lettered most of the covers until #151 in 1968, and also many of the stories inside, as was true for all the DC romance books then.

Issue #126 begins the run of familiar Schnapp cover lettering, and a series of stories about an airline stewardess. On romance books, Schnapp seemed to use a more delicate thin line for much of the cover lettering than he did on other kinds of comics.

Issue #131 from 1964 saw the debut of a new logo version by Ira. This one used the same letter shapes again, but was wider, slanted, and did not include the inner shapes. The outline was also a bit thicker to help separate the logo from the background art. As you can see in the top line lettering, DC continued the Prize feature “Young Miss America,” more on that later.

An oval caption with narration from stewardess Bonnie Taylor was used on several covers, about the only time I can think of that it was done. Schnapp’s caption shapes were often more curvy on romance books.

Issue #138 from 1965 has more unusual caption shapes and slanted lettering.

Ira’s final cover lettering was for issue #151 dated 1968. These covers have Schnapp lettering: 126-148, 151, That’s 24 in all.

Schnapp story lettering began with the first DC issue, sample above. I can only assume Ira liked working on romance stories, as he did so many of them.

This page lettered by Ira for issue #125 explains how DC was continuing the Miss Young America feature started by Prize, and the girls who sent in photos that were used had their portraits illustrated by John Romita, then one of DC’s regular romance artists before he went on to a long career at Marvel Comics.

Here’s the first of those portraits from issue #131. Ira lettered the title, which was reused in future pages like this. I wonder if any of the contest winners still have their John Romita sketch?

Some of the titles Ira had to letter were kind of ridiculous, like this one from issue #127, but he makes it look elegant.

This story from issue #144 in 1966 has script captions that are probably much like Ira’s regular handwriting. At least that’s my guess.

Ira’s final story lettering appeared in issue #151 in 1968, though it could have been done many months earlier. Anthologies like this could build up an inventory of stories well in advance.

These stories have Ira Schnapp lettering. All story titles are listed.

#125 Aug/Sept 1963: Intruder of Love 7pp, Three Week Romance 7pp, Miss Young America 1pp, His Brother’s Love 8pp

#126 Oct/Nov 1963: Flight 101 to Heartbreak 12pp, Two Can Play the Same Game 8pp, That Thing Called Love 8pp

#127 Dec 1963/Jan 1964: Another Face, Another Love 12pp, Love Is Only a Word on a Typewriter 8pp, Wait For My Love 8pp

#128 Feb/March 1964: You Deceive Yourself 8pp, In Favor of Love 8pp, Hold My Heart 12pp

#129 April/May 1964: Too Late For Love 12pp

#130 June/July 1964: Inviting Trouble 8pp, Please Make Her the Right Girl 8pp

#131 Aug/Sept 1964: Young Miss America 1pp

#132 Oct/Nov 1964: Strangers to Love 7pp, His Other Love 15pp

#133 Dec 1964/Jan 1965: Shadow On My Love 13pp, Last Kiss, First Heartbreak 15pp

#134 Feb/March 1965: A Ticket to Romance 15pp

#135 April/May 1965: Change of Heart 11pp, Never Let Go 15pp

#136 June/July 1965: Love Me Again 8pp

#138 Oct/Nov 1965: Forever Is Not Today 10pp, Don’t Steal My Love 13pp

#139 Dec 1965/Jan 1966: Stranger In My Heart 10pp, How To Lose Your Boyfriend 7pp

#142 June/July 1966: Too Shy For Romance 13pp

#143 Aug/Sept 1966: Betrayed 10pp, I Want Our Love To Be Different 12pp

#144 Oct/Nov 1966: Diary of a Broken Heart 13pp, Romance Italian Style 7pp

#145 Dec 1966/Jan 1967: Thanks For a Little Bit of Love 10pp

#148 June/July 1967: No Right To His Love 10pp, What Kind of a Girl are You? 12pp

#151 Dec 1967/Jan 1968: Take Me Back 8pp

That’s a total of 370 pages on this title.

Young Romance on Wikipedia.

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

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