IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS 1958-1959

All images © DC Comics. From TOMAHAWK #55, March 1958

The first new logo design by Ira Schnapp in issues with cover dates in these years is this one for the long-running frontier fighter. The stylized hatchet shape is a good idea, tying the name to a large symbol, but the shape of this logo creates a lot of empty space above it. Often that would be filled with cover lettering, but not on this first appearance. The logo seems more serious and streamlined than the previous one.

Here’s the original from the DC files. It has less impact without color, and the outlines are surprisingly thin.

From CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #1, April-May 1958

The Challengers had a tryout run in SHOWCASE, but the logo used there was pulled from the splash page of a story and not by Ira. This one is all his and is massive and monumental, with a nice arc on the first word. Again, I find it odd DC covered so much of the S with the code seal when they could have made the logo a little smaller, or even just the first word, and shown it all on this first issue. Ira’s designs also did not always take the code seal into account, which didn’t help.

From THE NEW ADVENTURES OF CHARLIE CHAN #1, May-June 1958

This short-lived title was based on a TV series, though no mention of that is made. CHARLIE CHAN is in the faux Chinese style one saw a lot at the time, but now considered condescending and in poor taste.

From FLIPPITY AND FLOP #40, June-July 1958

While Schnapp was doing some new logo designs with thin outlines, this revamp went in the other direction. FLIPPITY AND FLOP began in the pages of REAL SCREEN COMICS #1 in 1945, and their own title started in 1952 with a logo drawn for the stories and I think not by Ira. This revision came late in the run, and certainly got the message across.

The original logo from the DC files. The slightly thinner outlines on the loops of the P’s in the first word suggest all the outlines were originally that size and Ira added more thickness later, but that’s a guess. Like most of Ira’s originals, this one has quite a few white paint corrections, but they’re hard to see.

From SGT. BILKO’S PVT. DOBERMAN #1, June-July 1958

Sgt. Bilko’s comic did well enough to spawn this spin-off title, a first for DC’s Hollywood humor books. The logo for Doberman is more regular and conservative than Bilko’s, but the character head by Bob Oksner keeps it funny. Both Bilko books ended at the same time in early 1960.

Expanding DC’s science fiction anthologies was on DC’s mind in 1958, and someone commissioned these two new logos from Ira that were never used except possibly to secure trademarks on the names. The space race was on between the U.S. and Russia beginning in 1955, and the minds of many more young readers turned toward space and science fiction themes than ever before.

From SHOWCASE #15, July-Aug 1958

DC management challenged editors Jack Schiff and Julius Schwartz to come up with new science fiction series to run in SHOWCASE. Schiff’s ran first with a new logo by Schnapp that I find sadly outdated already, with the name inside a rocket ship from the Buck Rogers era of twenty years earlier. The beveled look of the letters is quite nice, though.

You can see how that was done more clearly in this original from the DC files, which was so large it had to be folded, and is worse for the wear. Even though he left all the beveled areas open, Ira knew how it would work in color and put dividing lines in the right places. Some of the outlines were removed for the cover above to make the bevels look even better, though one tiny section of the G was colored wrong.

From WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #96, Aug-Sept 1958

After having a poorly-designed logo on every issue of this book since it began in 1941, Ira Schnapp was finally able to create this better version. He followed the general look of the previous logo, but did away with the pointed letters and remade it in his block style with very thick outlines that could be held in a color, as was done here. This is actually closer in feel to the logo I think Ira designed for WORLD’S BEST COMICS before the title changed with the second issue.

The original from the DC files again shows lots of white paint revisions on the edges of the letters, some of which is flaking off a little from age. Ira’s logos always look so perfect in print, but clearly they were often the result of much fine-tuning.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #55, Oct 1958

GIRLS’ ROMANCES had continued with Ira’s original logo and its very thin letters from the beginning, and at times the thinnest parts were hard to read, though a few covers used a version with the open areas filled in, and that read better. For issue #55, Ira made a new outline version of that filled-in logo, which finally gave it enough weight in all areas to read well. This version lasted until 1966. Though the shape is the same, I feel this counts as a new logo.

From SHOWCASE #17, Nov-Dec 1958

The other new science fiction hero following Space Ranger in SHOWCASE was Adam Strange, but he appeared first under this new Schnapp logo using the same title as one of the unused ones above. That logo would not have worked on this cover, which is probably why a new one was created. It’s pretty standard but the arc along the bottom adds interest.

From ACTION COMICS #248, Jan 1959

While Congo Bill had been around since the early 1940s, he’d been unable to attract readers in his own title. In this issue, someone changed his white hunter in Africa premise to one with a fantasy element: Bill was able to change bodies with a golden gorilla, leading to more heroic adventures due to Bill’s intelligence combined with a very powerful body. It kept the feature going for a while longer. Ira’s logo uses one of his more organic styles, and the result works for me.

From SUGAR AND SPIKE #21, Feb-March 1959

With issue #21, SUGAR AND SPIKE gained a new Schnapp logo with sans-serif letters in two curves and the same character art by Sheldon Mayer. It’s a little more compact than the first one and stands out well from the busy background.

The original logo from the DC files reveals the very thick outline on the main words to help it read well against cover art, and again lots of white paint revisions. At upper right you can see where Spike’s head was pasted onto the logo.

From THE FLASH #105, Feb-March 1959

Though he appeared earlier in SHOWCASE, many equate this new title as a major turning point for DC Comics as editor Julius Schwartz oversaw the revamp and revitalization of their best characters and ideas from the 1940s, with lots of help from artists like Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert and Murphy Anderson and writers like Robert Kanigher, John Broome and Gardner Fox. Ira Schnapp’s bold, exciting logo helped attract readers. It takes the ideas from the 1940s version that he began working with on the SHOWCASE versions and brings them to new heights. The outlines are thick, the sense of movement is strong, and I love how the speed lines begin in the black outlines as white openings, then continue as black lines. The larger F adds balance missing in the SHOWCASE versions. This logo and book made a huge impression on me when I first saw it at age eight.

This photostat of the original logo from the DC files only improves my opinion of it.

From SHOWCASE #19, March-April 1959

For his third SHOWCASE appearance, Adam Strange gained this fine Schnapp logo that has long been associated with him. It uses Ira’s standard open block letters with an open drop shadow and a gentle arc that adds interest.

This photostat of the original from DC’s files allows the linework to show up better. The shape of the R is unusual for Schnapp, but it puts the R and A closer together and avoids a gap there.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #23, April-May 1959

With issue #23, Ira’s BRAVE AND BOLD logo was redrawn much smaller to leave room for a larger character logo. This was needed as the book became a second tryout title for potential new series. The large words are almost the same but have a slight drop shadow to read better. The banner is improved with a curled end and a flagpole. The small words may be from the original version.

This photostat of the original logo from the DC files shows that PRESENTS was part of this logo. The flagpole seems smoother than the printed version, and may be a revision.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #23, April-May 1959

The first headliner was The Viking Prince, who had been one of the three regular features to this point, and now took center stage with an Old English style logo by Ira. Unlike the earlier feature logo, this one is in all caps with larger first letters. This tryout did not gain a series.

From HEART THROBS #59, April-May 1959

HEART THROBS was another former Quality Comics title bought by DC, and they continued publishing it with the existing numbering and logo after a pause of a few months in 1957. In 1959, Schnapp designed this new logo, which has oddly uneven letters. The A seems too big and the R’s and first T seem too small. It almost suggests the ebb and flow of a heartbeat, but that’s probably just me projecting something never intended.

The original logo from the DC files is just the same, but with a thin outline that doesn’t show on the cover. Someone trimmed off a bit of the H probably so it would fit in the file drawer.

From THE FLASH #106, April-May 1959

For the second issue of the revamped Flash, Schnapp designed this feature logo in the same style as his cover one, but with less tall and more horizontally even letters. This ran as a top banner over the first page of each story for some time, and fit better than the cover logo would have.

From SHOWCASE #20, May-June 1959

In SHOWCASE this new feature had a tryout that led to a new series. Both used this new logo by Schnapp. The outer shape is puzzling, as it suggests a bullet, though Rip’s time machine was a sphere, but it does provide space for a second color.

A photostat of the original logo from the DC files. Ira’s loose, rounded shapes in TIME MASTER don’t seem particularly appropriate for the concept, but it looks fine in color.

From THE FOX AND THE CROW #56, June-July 1959

These characters began in REAL SCREEN COMICS in 1945 and their own series started in early 1952 with a logo I think was not by Schnapp. For issue #56 he provided this new one with strong, bouncy open letters for the large words. Both the old logo (with character art in each O) and this new one were used for a while until this one became the regular logo.

The original logo from the DC files showing some of Ira’s pencil lines and his white paint corrections. THE had been over the F, but was moved right to fit better.

From TV SCREEN CARTOONS #129, July-Aug 1959

Speaking of REAL SCREEN COMICS, that title was renamed and got a new Schnapp logo with this issue in an attempt to attract viewers of TV cartoons. There were a few actual cartoons made for some of the features in this book, but years earlier, and most kids in 1959 would not be likely to see them. Ira’s logo does the job of promoting the tenuous TV connections.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #108, Aug-Sept 1959

Westerns were still popular on TV, and DC decided to make Johnny Thunder the headliner on this one with a new cover logo and a smaller version of the actual book title, both by Schnapp. I will count them as one logo, as they always appeared together. The rough ends of the letters in THUNDER look similar to what Artie Simek was doing on some western Marvel Comics logos of the time, so I wonder if Ira was influenced by that.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #25, Aug-Sept 1959

The next tryout feature in BRAVE AND BOLD was this one with a fine logo by Schnapp. The letters are precise with some minor Art Deco touches, and a drop shadow that adds depth. Though their tryout did not result in a series, it set the stage for later ones in the future.

From SHOWCASE #22, Sept-Oct 1959

The second of editor Julius Schwartz’s golden age superhero revamps was equally as successful as The Flash. Ira’s logo oddly looked back to the golden age character for the surrounding box of green flame, the new character used beams of green energy instead, but the green flames do add interest and texture all the same. Otherwise the logo is standard Schnapp open block letters. The flaming box ran off the cover at the left side and the flames were trimmed at the top for use on SHOWCASE tryout issues, but returned when the character got his own title.

From PAT BOONE #1, Sept-Oct 1959

This short-lived title tried hard to distance itself from comics in every way, with Ira Schnapp’s staid type-like logo being the only hand-lettering on the covers.

From SERGEANT BILKO #16, Nov-Dec 1959

For the last three issues of its run, this title had a new Schnapp logo with more type-like letters made funny only by the character art.

To sum up, I found 27 new Ira Schnapp logos for issues cover-dated 1958-1959, an increase over the previous few years, and including some memorable ones. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

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