IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS: 1956-1957

From FRONTIER FIGHTERS #3, Jan-Feb 1956

Davy Crockett was wildly popular in 1956 due to a hit TV show about him from Disney, and fortunately for DC Comics, he was a historical person who anyone could depict as long as they didn’t copy the TV show. That explains why with the third issue, FRONTIER FIGHTERS gained a second logo for Davy by Schnapp. It uses the same Trajan-influenced serif style as the main logo.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #9, Feb-March 1956

With issue #9, Ira’s logo for OUR FIGHTING FORCES dropped the telescoping and had a different small word OUR. Not enough of a change to call this a new logo, but I wanted to show it, as the book retained this logo for many years. Incidentally, it always bugged me that DC didn’t seem to care how much of the logo was covered by the Comics Code seal, as here.

From TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #1, Feb-March 1956

A new anthology began in DC’s “mystery” line, though the contents could have often fit just as easily in their science fiction anthologies. Ira’s logo uses standard open block letters, but they bow out toward the reader for a 3-D effect reinforced by the very deep telescoping. Perhaps Schnapp was going for the impact of a 3-D science fiction movie, I don’t know. TALES OF THE was much smaller in later issues.

This photostat (photographic copy) from the DC files shows even more of the telescoping, and there’s a house ad with more still! To this point, I don’t think Ira had previously designed a logo meant to run off the edge of a cover, and he wasn’t taking any chances there wouldn’t be enough telescoping.

From SHOWCASE #1, March-April 1956

This was a new type of anthology for National (DC) Comics, one where the contents would change every issue or every few issues, with the material intended to vie for readers as potential new series. At first the stated concept was for readers to send in ideas for the book, and DC would use the best submissions, but I don’t believe that was ever followed, and no mention of it is made after the first issue. Instead, the book rotated through all the editors, each putting in new series ideas of his own or from his freelancers. Ira’s SHOWCASE is standard block lettering, but the banner and angle added interest. The first issue featured Fire Fighters, and those words are prepared like a logo, as if it might be needed again. It wasn’t, but the original remains in the DC files:

Some details that are hard to see on the cover are clearer here, like the very thin drop shadow, and in a few places you can just make out Schnapp’s pencil lines and white paint corrections. Ira wisely made the style quite different from SHOWCASE to give contrast.

From THE THREE MOUSEKETEERS #1, March-April 1956

This new funny animal title was the idea of former DC editor Sheldon Mayer who initially wrote and drew all the stories. The mice were loosely based on the Alexander Dumas characters, but very loosely. Mostly they were just funny. Schnapp’s charming logo makes good use of the space with upper and lower case rounded letters. It was a coincidence that Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club” used the same name around the same time.

From SUGAR AND SPIKE #1, April-May 1956

An even better idea from Sheldon Mayer was this new series about very young children who can understand each other perfectly, but not adults and vice versa. Angelic-looking Sugar is the mastermind behind much of the trouble they get into, and Spike usually receives the blame. Ira’s logo uses bouncy, appealing serif letters with giant S’s, and the character art is by Mayer.

A photostat of the original logo from the DC files only reveals the outlines more clearly, and shows how well Ira had learned to make thinner letters work with the poor quality printing of comics at the time.

From SHOWCASE #2, May-June 1956

Normally I would call this title for the second issue of SHOWCASE cover lettering, but I think the intent is to have something that could be reused if readers liked it enough, so I am continuing to call these logos even though they were used only once and are in the secondary position to the book’s actual title. I would have bought this collection of animal stories if I’d seen it and could do so (I was five).

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #6, June-July 1956

Robin Hood was a new feature in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #6 and gained a Schnapp Old English style logo, very appropriate. The R and H have a Celtic influence.

From JACKIE GLEASON AND THE HONEYMOONERS #1, June-July 1956

With Bob Hope and Martin and Lewis doing well, could Jackie Gleason make it three Hollywood comedy stars with successful DC titles? Apparently not, though the book was well done and featured a variety of Gleason characters from his TV shows. It didn’t last long. The lengthy title is unwieldy, but there had already been a comic just called JACKIE GLEASON from St. John. Ira’s logo takes up a lot of space, but I like it.

From SHOWCASE #3, July-Aug 1956

I’m on the fence about this one. The lettering is at the bottom of the cover instead of by the SHOWCASE logo, and it definitely feels more like cover lettering, but I guess the same rules should apply as on the first two issues, so I will call it a logo. It’s one place where Ira’s wavy letters work well.

From JACKIE GLEASON AND THE HONEYMOONERS #2, Aug-Sept 1956

Each issue of Gleason’s title had a longer Honeymooners story with the cover logo on it, and many short features starring other Gleason and Art Carney characters, but on most the feature name is relatively small and more like a title than a logo. This is one of two that feel like logos to me.

From SHOWCASE #4, Sept-Oct 1956

SHOWCASE first made waves with this fourth issue. Editor Julius Schwartz’s revamp of the golden age Flash was a big hit, but DC didn’t know it for a few months when sales figures came in. This Flash logo by Schnapp is similar to the one he designed when the character got his own title, but it’s not quite the same, so I’m calling it a separate logo. When Flash returned in issue #8, the logo was again slightly different, but close enough to this one to consider it a minor variation. Ira already had the key elements here, a strong slant to the right and speed lines to increase the sense of movement. The exclamation point added emphasis, but did not make it to the solo title. The square corners on the S seem right to me to keep it all the same. Ira was familiar with the two Golden Age Flash logos designed by someone else, and he took the letter shapes, the slant, and the speed lines from those but made them simpler, stronger and better.

From HOUSE OF SECRETS #1, Nov-Dec 1956

Joining HOUSE OF MYSTERY and TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED was this new entry in the “mystery” genre. Again the logo by Schnapp is not scary, and the letter shapes and telescoping are closest to what he did for MY GREATEST ADVENTURE. The outlines are quite thin, but it works fine, and the logo remained on the book for most of its initial run of about ten years.

This original logo from the DC files is definitely by Schnapp, but it’s not the one used on all the covers of the series I looked at…or is it? The outlines are thicker and the drop shadow is filled in. This version did not appear on any issues where the logo was full size, but I found it on issue #78 from 1966:

There the HOUSE OF SECRETS logo is much smaller to make room for other ones. A few previous issues used the original logo in this configuration, but it was too small to hold up well, so the thicker version was made, and I thought perhaps it was made from the original logo. Either Schnapp or someone else in the DC production department simply went over the outlines with a thicker pen and filled in the telescoping. One problem with that is the top line is smaller than on the original logo, and there’s no sign a smaller version was pasted over a larger one, so as Kurt Busiek suggested, this may simply be a retraced and newly inked version. In any case, I won’t count it as a new logo.

From SHOWCASE #5, Nov-Dec 1956

At least this SHOWCASE logo is up near the book’s main one. Again, you could call it cover lettering, but I think it was meant for possible reuse, so I will claim it as a Schnapp logo even though it appeared only once.

From ROBIN HOOD TALES #7, Jan-Feb 1957

In 1956, National (DC) Comics bought some properties from Quality Comics, who was getting out of comics publishing, and they continued two Quality books with the same numbering with January 1957 cover dates. The best known is G.I. COMBAT, which retained Quality’s logo by Al Grenet, and was a long-running success for DC’s war line. This is the other title, less known because it did not last long. Schnapp followed the style and layout of the previous Al Grenet logo but made it his own by adding serifs and decorative points to ROBIN HOOD and serifs to TALES. Not much to say about this, but it works fine, and I’m not sure why it didn’t sell.

From SERGEANT BILKO #1, May-June 1957

Even while the Jackie Gleason comic was struggling, DC launched this similar comedy TV show title, and it had more success, lasting a few years. The logo is very Ira, with letter shapes he liked for humor and an open drop shadow for a second color.

From JACKIE GLEASON AND THE HONEYMOONERS #7, June-July 1957

This is the other feature logo from the Jackie Gleason title that I think is actually a logo. It was used elsewhere without the banner, but I think that makes it work even better for this character satirizing the upper class.

From SERGEANT BILKO #2, July-Aug 1957

There was one big problem with the first issue of SGT. BILKO, at least for star Phil Silvers or perhaps his agent, and that was fixed with the second issue, which not only added his name as part of the logo but included his image by artist Bob Oksner. I think it works even better than the first one.

From SHOWCASE #9, July-Aug 1957

While sidekick Jimmy Olsen had gone right to his own title, Lois Lane began with a tryout run in SHOWCASE. I don’t know if there was much doubt she would go on to her own title, and Schnapp’s fine logo reflects that, he gave it about the same treatment as Jimmy’s. SUPERMAN’S is from his logo, the rest is new. Ira stuck with Art Deco styles for GIRL FRIEND and Lois’s own name, which does follow the example from Jimmy of large initial letters. This logo is sedate, but classy, and I like it.

Schnapp did this variation on his DC Bullet symbol for DC’s romance titles, which were long kept separate from the rest of the company’s comics. Those titles rarely acknowledged they were from the same publisher as Superman and Batman, and this new symbol at least said they were all from National Comics, as the company was known then. Simple and effective, it lasted for a few years, then the regular DC Bullet replaced it.

From THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS #41, Nov 1957

DC’s Martin and Lewis title became a solo one for Jerry Lewis with this issue, reflecting the team’s split. Dean Martin’s career turned mostly to singing, and Lewis continued as a comedian and movie star, with both eventually appearing in their own TV shows. If anything, the comic was even more popular without Martin I think, and continued for many more years. Ira’s logo simply added JERRY in the same style as LEWIS, which creates a more balance whole and a much shorter title. I count it as a new logo.

This photostat of the original from the DC files doesn’t add much to our knowledge, but highlights the appealing bounce Ira gave the name and the careful double outline is more obvious.

To sum up, I found 21 new logos by Ira Schnapp in 1956-1957 titles, down a bit from the previous year, but some that lasted a long time. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

2 thoughts on “IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS: 1956-1957

  1. Kurt Busiek

    >> There the HOUSE OF SECRETS logo is much smaller to make room for other ones. A few previous issues used the original logo in this configuration, but it was too small to hold up well, so the thicker version was made, and I think it was made from the original logo. Either Schnapp or someone else in the DC production department simply went over the outlines with a thicker pen and filled in the telescoping. At least that’s my guess, and it would have been quicker than redoing the logo from scratch.>>

    The HOUSE OF is much smaller in the revised logo than it is in the original, but you may be better able to tell whether that’s a pasted-over photostat than I am. There also seem to be other changes — the first E in SECRETS overlaps into the C while on the later logo it doesn’t, the telescoping on the interior bits of the second E are at a different angle than in the original, and a couple of others.

    If I had to guess, I’d guess that the original logo was traced and filled in, accounting for the changes. But I haven’t seen the actual board and you have, so you’d know better.

    I’m really enjoying these blog posts!

  2. Todd Klein Post author

    Perhaps you’re right, Kurt, I don’t see any paste-ups on the heavy original, so it may just have been traced and redone.

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