Ira Schnapp story lettering, a sampler

Action106_03Images © DC Comics.

My focus is turned to lettering legend Ira Schnapp again today. One area of his career I want to know more about and have been researching is his lettering on story pages for DC Comics (then National Comics) in the 1940s. I have access to scans of many of the comics from that decade, but determining which stories were lettered by Ira is difficult. By 1947, his style is easy for me to pick out, it’s essentially the same one he used throughout the rest of his career. Before 1947, I suspect his style was not yet settled, and he may have gone through different versions of it. That makes finding his work much harder and probably more subjective. I hope to eventually come to firmer conclusions, but in the meantime, here are some examples of Ira’s story lettering from the late 1940s. Above is the lead story from ACTION COMICS #106, cover dated March 1947. The title of the story is in a style Schnapp used occasionally on covers, and the very square and regular lettering is his.

Batman041-01BAMAN #41 cover dated June-July 1947 has Ira Schnapp lettering in the caption, as well as the signs.


Page 3 from that story has more typical Schnapp lettering styles. Notice the balloons with large scalloped edges, and one that extends over the panel above. Schnapp’s story lettering is not as carefully crafted as his cover lettering balloons (which were also done larger), but the letters are similar. Like most letterers, his S is distinctive, in this case very rounded with a tendency to get straighter across the middle horizontal stroke, and often with the top and bottom end points shorter than the center stroke.

DwJ0204While Ira lettered a good number of super-hero stories, I’ve found many more humor stories by him, such as this one from A DATE WITH JUDY #2 cover dated Dec. 1947 – Jan. 1948. Here the story calls for some larger lettering that is even more like Ira’s cover lettering. The balloon shapes are distinctively his, as are the overlaps to the panels above. Ira’s question mark was always small and tight like a tiny backwards S over a dot.

AFC14037Schnapp lettered hundreds of short humor and funny animal stories like this one from ALL-FUNNY COMICS #14 cover dated Nov.-Dec. 1946. The style is very similar to the other examples above, but note that in this earlier example some letters look a little different, particularly the R, which in some places has a long curved right leg. This is the sort of clue I need to follow back to earlier examples.

AnAn1103One more funny animal example from ANIMAL ANTICS #11 cover dated Nov.-Dec. 1947. In this case the feature title, “The Raccoon Kids” also looks like Ira Schnapp’s work to me. This sort of research is very time consuming, but I try to keep at it when I can. Hopefully I will be able to report more fully in the future.

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