Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1946

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #92, Jan 1946

As you might expect, the series of alphabetical ads appeared throughout this year, each lettered by Ira Schnapp and each drawn by one of DC’s funny animal artists, perhaps Rube Grossman. The one area I would fault is the tiny size of the cover image, which could have been larger with a different layout.

From ACTION COMICS #93, Feb 1946

The monthly titles listed in the left column of the page would have included all the alphabet ads, the bi-monthly ones half of them, and the quarterly comics just a few. It’s kind of surprising how many quarterly titles DC had at the time, but paper was probably still in short supply after the war.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #102, Feb 1946

This third-page ad is the first of many Schnapp would create to promote two DC titles. Two cover images, two display words above them, the DC Bullet in the center with more lettering around it. Many were generic enough to be reused with other titles, though I’m not sure if this one was. Note that these are new titles, and DC was trying out a purportedly non-fiction comic in REAL FACT, though some of it was definitely not very factual.

From ANIMAL ANTICS #1, March 1946

The inside front cover of ANIMAL ANTICS #1 used the ad space to show the features inside as well as to ask for mail. Not exactly an ad but this page has lots of great lettering by Schnapp. I believe Ira designed the logo, he lettered many of the stories, and designed some of the feature logos for them too. While Ira did plenty of superhero lettering, he seemed to enjoy humor comics even more, and his enthusiasm is evident in his work here.

From ACTION COMICS #94, March 1946

The alphabet continues, but note the list of the company’s titles no longer breaks them down by frequency. This might have been to save space. The All-American titles are included and in this year the sister companies merged into one. By the end of 1946, all were being produced at 480 Lexington Avenue.

From STAR SPANGLED COMICS #55, April 1946

There’s a slightly Dr. Seuss feel to some of these animals. It would be interesting to know how they were produced. Did the artist pencil everything including the block letter, then give it to Ira to ink all the lettering, then get it back to ink the animal art? Both the artist and Schnapp were probably frequent visitors to the DC offices, so that might have worked.

From ACTION COMICS #97, June 1946

I also wonder who wrote the poems in these ads. My guess would be the artist, but who knows?

From ACTION COMICS #98, July 1946

Some of the animals were unfamiliar ones needed to fill a spot in the alphabet.

From WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #23, July 1946

This is two ads filling a full page, but they could have been used separately, so I will count it as two for Ira. The top ad promoting three DC humor books has better art than the cartoon figures we were seeing in previous years, so it’s probably by one of the artists from those books. The bottom ad is part of an unusual new project from a company called the Lafayette Street Corporation. The Grand Comics Database says: As told to Michael Feldman by Jack Adams (IND distribution manager, 1939-1953), this was an attempted new line initiated by the printer which printed DC (National)’s comics, The Bridgeport Herald, with primary partners Max Gaines, Paul Sampliner, Jack Liebowitz, and Harry Donenfeld. There were only two titles produced. This one, containing non-fiction stories like REAL FACT COMICS, lasted for ten issues, the other for only five. We’ll see that title in the 1947 post. While Ira’s lettering touts this title as “first of its kind,” it was somewhat like REAL FACT from DC and perhaps other titles from other publishers. My guess is most readers preferred fictional characters, though in a short time the true crime genre would become popular with stories supposedly drawn from real events and people.

From ACTION COMICS #99, Aug 1946

Alphabet books for young children have always been popular, and DC is playing off that idea in these ads. I doubt any readers bought comics because of these ads, but it’s possible.

From ACTION COMICS #100, Sept 1946

When the inside front cover was needed for a paid ad, this page was bumped to somewhere inside the issue, and then could be in color. I think I prefer them in black and white.

From ACTION COMICS #100, Sept 1946

This two-thirds of a page ad features the return of the goofy cartoon characters from previous years, perhaps drawn by a DC production staffer who was an aspiring cartoonist, but I don’t know who that might be. REAL FACT had a pretty good run, but I doubt it ever sold as well as DC’s superhero comics.

From STAR SPANGLED COMICS #61, Oct 1946

After World War Two, superhero comics went into a gradual decline, and DC began converting some of theirs to funny animals. LEADING COMICS was the first. It was helpful to artists who worked in that style, and probably hurtful to those who didn’t.

From ACTION COMICS #102, Nov 1946

MORE FUN COMICS, one of the company’s oldest titles, also became a humor title by early 1946, though the change was more gradual. With such a small cover image, it’s hard to even see what’s on it.

From ACTION COMICS #103, Dec 1946

Ira’s final ad in issues with 1946 cover-dates has more realistic animal art than the other alphabet ads. Either it’s by a different artist, or is just a change of style. Perhaps whoever did it had one of these dogs, and it’s a portrait. Just a guess.

In all I found 16 house ads by Ira Schnapp for 1946, about the same as 1945, but that would change in the following year. More articles in this series and others you might like are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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