Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1945

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #80, Jan 1945

At first glance, this ad filling a third of a comics page looks like some poorly lettered ones I showed in my post on 1943-44 ads. The cartoon figure is the same, but the lettering is better. I think Ira was still finding his way here, some of the open lettering is uneven and not so good, but the list of characters and features is well done in a style Ira was using on covers at the time: block letters with some strokes not joining up, as in the B and R, and some extending past the join like in the H of HAWKMAN. The comic promoted is from the All-American Comics company, a sister publisher of National (DC). All-American generally did their own house ads and did not use Ira, so this is unusual in that way. My guess is that National thought this book worthy of a bigger push and gave the assignment to Schnapp for their own titles.

From ACTION COMICS #80, Jan 1945

In the same issue Ira lettered the Superman balloon in this Supermen of America ad, one that promotes patriotism and war bonds.

Image courtesy of Hake’s Auctions

This is one of the documents club members would have received. It predates Ira’s time at DC, and uses one of Joe Shuster’s Superman logos. Ira would do a revised version in 1961.

From ACTION COMICS #82, March 1945

Here’s another full-page ad supporting the March of Dimes similar to one out in 1944. Some of the text is the same as the one I showed in my 1943-44 post, but I think this is all new lettering by Ira. LOOK, KIDS! is typical of Ira’s script display style at the time. They even had him hand letter the code message to make it match the rest. DC was not making money on this offer, and instead was spending money to print and mail those pictures of Superman, but it was all good publicity for the company, and for a good cause.

Postcard images found on Scoop from Previews World, images courtesy of Art Cloos.

Above are the front and back of the postcard sent by DC to those who mailed in their dime. Ira did lettering for the back of it, and probably also did the signature on the front. I don’t know how much the cards cost to print, but the postage was just one cent. A fine idea, and a worthy contribution to the fight against polio by DC. At the time no one knew that President Roosevelt was himself suffering from the disease he had founded this charity to fight. Later, after polio was conquered by the Salk vaccine, the March of Dimes focused on infant mortality issues.

From MORE FUN COMICS #102, March 1945

The same type of ad was done for Batman and Robin, with I think all new lettering by Ira.

Schnapp almost certainly did the signature lettering on the Batman card, as it uses the alternate script E he liked, but the message on the back was typeset. There was a third postcard featuring Wonder Woman, but Ira did no lettering on it, and that would have come from All-American I think.

From ACTION COMICS #84, May 1945

The same styles of display lettering by Schnapp that appeared in the ads above is found on this inside front cover ad promoting the DC brand. I don’t know if Ira did the art, but he might have.

From ACTION COMICS #85, June 1945

Another ad in the same location by Ira, though I think he didn’t do the art on this one. It’s probably by one of the artists on the humor titles advertised. The large script lettering at the top looks like it was done with a brush, but it’s hard to be sure, it could be pen lettering in the style of brush lettering.

From SUPERMAN #35, July-Aug 1945

Another of those large Superman balloons promoting good behavior. These are kind of the precursor of DC’s public service ad series that began in 1949, and perhaps also written by editor Jack Schiff, as those were.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #101, July 1945

Here we have Ira Schnapp’s first full-page line ad. Compare it to the one in the 1943-44 post to see how much better the design and lettering is. The cloud or explosion caption in the center uses similar styles to previous ads by Ira, but the radiating lines from the center unify the design, and the placement of the covers on symmetrical angles adds structure and informality at the same time. The reversed bottom caption provides contrast, and the DC Bullet is mirrored to complete the symmetry. Ira is really cooking now on house ads!

From BATMAN #30, Aug 1945

The Batman newspaper strip began in 1943, and Ira started lettering it in August 1944. It didn’t prove to be as popular as the Superman one, and this ad is a plea for help from Batman comics fans to ask for it in their local newspapers. I don’t know if that made a difference, but this version of the strip ended in the fall of 1946. Ira’s lettering in the body of the ad is similar to what he was doing in the strip. There are subtle differences from his Superman lettering, like the M in BATMAN with angled sides rather than his usual vertical ones. The address readers could write to was at DC Comics itself, so I assume DC would have compiled information and letters to send to newspapers.

From ACTION COMICS #88, Sept 1945

I don’t know who did the cartoon people in these house ads, but this is one of his best efforts. Though it’s merely promotion, the ad is appealing, and Ira’s lettering helps to sell it.

From ACTION COMICS #88, Sept 1945

Superman really was everywhere it seemed, including in a radio drama series that DC had a hand in. There were two versions of this ad with minor lettering differences and different art.

From SUPERMAN #36, Sept 1945

The last of these balloon additions by Schnapp to the Supermen of America ads, and again promoting war bonds and stamps. They were a way for those at home to feel they were helping the war effort, especially kids, who had few other options to do so. We had a similar program when I was in grade school where you bought stamps toward the purchase of a government savings bond.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #100, Oct 1945

This ad began a series that ran through the entire alphabet. One ran each month, and all were lettered by Schnapp. I think the art was probably by one of DC’s funny animal artists, perhaps Rube Grossman, and he and Ira must have worked together on the design, especially on this first one where the art crosses over the big A. Each ad promoted DC in general and one specific comic in particular. They didn’t always run in the right date sequence in all titles, but I’m sure few readers noticed.

From REAL SCREEN COMICS#3, Fall 1945

It might be subtle, but I’m seeing Ira’s lettering getting a bit more even here, with less of those unfinished letters he was using earlier. It’s also wider, something he was doing in strips and stories at this time, and some of the R’s have that upturned right leg that I think Ira picked up from Frank Shuster on Superman work.

From ACTION COMICS #91, Dec 1945

The final ad I have for 1945 is the third in the alphabet series, and that cat looks like it would fit well in a funny animal title. SENSATION was an All-American comic, but most of those had the DC Bullet symbol too, except for a brief period when they used their own AA symbol.

To sum up, I found 15 house ads by Ira in 1945. Several of them might be called public service ads, but there wasn’t a regular series of those yet, so we’ll lump them all together. Ira was on his way, and we’ll see how many ads he does the following year.

More articles in this series and others you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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