IRA SCHNAPP’S COMICS LOGOS 1960-1961

All images © DC Comics. From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28, Feb-March 1960

1960 begins with one of Ira Schnapp’s finest logos, in my opinion. Editor Julius Schwartz was revamping DC’s golden age heroes, and decided to also update the former Justice Society of America with this new feature, replacing Society with League. DC’s top long-standing heroes Superman, Batman, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter appeared together with Schwartz’s revamped versions of The Flash and Green Lantern for the first time, an idea that I embraced with enthusiasm and excitement at age nine. Ira’s logo has it all: a shield representing Justice containing stars, and wide letters with the top and bottom lines having inner shapes to hold a color, in this case the perfect choice of red and blue to suggest a patriotic connection to the American flag (even though two of the heroes, Superman and J’onn J’onzz, were not even from Earth, and Wonder Woman and Aquaman were not exactly American). The idea was a hit and soon had its own long-running series with the same logo.

Ira’s logo is no longer in the DC files and has been sold online, but I found this image of it there. Not the clearest image, but you can still appreciate his skill and see that the words and stars were actually left white and surrounded by ink, not an easy thing to do well. It was no problem for Schnapp.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28, Feb-March 1960

Inside the book this alternate logo was used, spreading out the elements in a wide open shield to fit the space better and leave more room for art. It could have been done by someone else, but I think it’s also by Schnapp.

From THE FLASH #111, Feb-March 1960

In THE FLASH, the main character gained a similar boy sidekick, and in issue #111 his solo stories began with this new Schnapp logo following the style of his Flash cover logo but with some rounded letters.

From THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS #1, May-June 1960

DC was trying to hit multiple genres and audiences with this new title: Hollywood TV comedies, teen humor and maybe even romance (though the romance books were short on humor). The Schnapp logo starts with large open letters like other recent ones, then adds charming script for the top line with the clever “late addition” of MANY (as on the TV show title), and hearts over each I in GILLIS. It’s actually a much better logo than the TV show had.

From THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS #1, May-June 1960

Inside the book, Dobie’s beatnik sidekick Maynard G. Krebs had his own short feature with this logo by Ira.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #117, June-July 1960

The best continuing feature in the entire run of STRANGE ADVENTURES in my opinion began in issue #117 with this new Schnapp feature logo where Ira used some of his favorite Old English styles. A post-atomic war America with survivors clad in medieval armor and riding giant Dalmations…what’s not to like? The stories and art by John Broome and Murphy Anderson were great.

From GREEN LANTERN #1, July-Aug 1960

When Green Lantern began his own series, stories were topped with this new feature logo by Schnapp using similar letter shapes to his cover logo but stretched horizontally.

A photostat of the original logo from the DC files. This version has the second word farther to the right and closer to the first one, probably to make it less high and leave more space for cover art, perhaps a later adjustment.

From SHOWCASE #27, July-Aug 1960

Another tryout in SHOWCASE, this was an original series. It did well enough to gain its own title. The logo by Ira is once again very standard open letters using the same S shape as his WORLD’S FINEST logo.

The original logo in the DC files is just the same, and I see no white paint corrections on this one.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #31, Aug-Sept 1960

This new feature received several tryout issues in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, but never got it’s own series. Too bad, I liked the idea of exploring inside the Earth. Ira’s logo has an almost three-dimensional illusion of depth using one-point perspective that I find effective.

From SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1, Summer 1960

With this thick book, DC began a popular new program that reprinted old hard-to-find stories for fans who had missed them. Schnapp added the top and bottom words to his existing Superman logo, this version with the telescoping open for color. The issue sold out, and DC was soon doing them twice a year for both Superman and Batman, and later made the idea a monthly book under the name of “80-Page Giant.” I’ll count this as a new logo for Ira. There were more for other characters, and other annuals sometimes reused parts of this one.

From SHOWCASE #30, Jan-Feb 1961

Aquaman had been around since 1941 but never in his own series. In 1961 he got several tryout issues in SHOWCASE and then finally his own book. This Aquaman logo is one I think Schnapp designed in 1944, only Aqualad is new, and it was replaced by a new logo on the series, so I won’t count this as another logo for Ira.

From Supermen of America club membership certificate, 1961

The Supermen of America fan club had been around since about 1939, and had a logo similar to this one but using one of Joe Shuster’s Superman logos. Ira revised it in 1961 using his own Superman revamp, just replacing the A with an E, and he also lettered his own version of the rest. Not exactly a comics logo, but I think close enough.

On the original logo from the DC files you can see how it was made: a photostat of Ira’s logo was pasted onto a new piece of art paper with the A removed, and Ira drew and inked in that new letter. Below inside the chain links are Ira’s original versions of the three words that were revised to make them bolder. The revised lettering was pasted on these (you can see the glue marks) but they fell off at some point and are probably lost.

From ALL-STAR WESTERN #117, Feb-March 1961

This new feature in ALL-STAR WESTERN featured a Native American with super powers. Ira went with a Native American approach on the logo.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #34, Feb-March 1961

Another Julius Schwartz revamp of a golden age character, this version of Hawkman was also popular and flew into his own series after the BRAVE AND BOLD tryout. Schnapp’s logo uses letters based on the style of the inscription on Trajan’s Column in ancient Rome. The Trajan style was often used on carved letters from that time forward, and Ira had long experience with it as described in THIS article. I think it works really well for Hawkman, adding a feeling of historic age. Though the character and his wife Hawkgirl were from another planet, they were historians and liked to use ancient Earth weapons to fight crime. Their own series used the same logo.

From SHOWCASE #34, Sept-Oct 1961

Schwartz and his creators were on a roll, and the next revamp given a tryout in SHOWCASE was The Atom. Because it’s such a short word, Ira’s logo can be very large, and he made the most of that. The square-cornered O is a bit odd, but it matches the rest of the word, and also echoes the square S on The Flash. The short telescoping made room for other colors and added a three-dimensional lift off the surface of the cover to get attention. This is one book you could pick out on a newsstand from across the street!

From BATMAN ANNUAL #1, Summer 1961

The Batman Annuals followed a similar plan to the Superman ones, but the new words Schnapp designed above and below the existing Batman logo were somewhat different. I think they’re enough to call this a new logo.

From SECRET ORIGINS #1, Summer 1961

Having had success with reprints in the annuals, DC put out this annual-sized book featuring origin stories for nine of their characters, though the one for Superman and Batman was about the origin of their team-ups as seen in WORLD’S FINEST. All the same, many of the stories here were only rumors to most readers at a time when older comics were very hard to find and there was no back issue market, and for fans like myself, this was a revelation. I love Ira’s logo, which uses open letters with large triangular serifs in an appealing arc. I’m not sure why, it may be my childhood self that loves it, but it’s an effective and attention-grabbing logo in any estimation.

To sum up, I found 16 new logos by Ira Schnapp for books with 1960-1961 cover dates. Other articles in this series and more you might like are on the LOGO LINKS page of my blog.

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