Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1950

Images © DC Comics

Continuing with this series looking at Ira Schnapp’s DC Comics work on everything other than cover logos, cover lettering and story lettering, each post features one year in cover dates. Some of the actual work was done the year before, as cover dates at DC always ran a month or two ahead, and production time before that added an additional month or two. So, a comic cover-dated January probably went on sale the previous November and the work in it was likely done no later than early October.

I have access to scans of nearly all the DC Comics from the 1950s and 1960s, but not all, and of the scans I do have, ad pages are not always included, so I may miss an ad here or there, but since house ads (our main topic) usually ran in more than one title, I believe I have access to nearly all of them. For 1950 I found an incredible 48 house ads and 12 public service ads, more than I expected. Some are not lettered by Ira Schnapp, but I will include all the ones I found in this particular year to give an idea of what the entire range is. Prepare for a long post! Note that ads run on inside covers were black and white, but the same ads often had color versions that appeared in other comics on inside pages. Above is one of the earliest house ads I think has lettering by Ira Schnapp, from SECRET HEARTS #3, Jan-Feb 1950. DC’s romance or love comics were just getting started in late 1949, and unlike other DC titles, they rarely had paid ads or house ads for company titles other than romance ones. DC seemed to want to separate the genre from their other books. Many of the early romance issues had handsome full-page ads like this on the back cover. The middle section of the ad uses type, but I think the top and bottom sections are lettered by Ira, who was great with script styles. He also designed the book’s logo, and did the cover lettering, but the cover shown is a drawn recreation of the actual photo cover.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #148, Jan 1950

In 1946, National Comics and All-American Comics merged to form the company we now know as DC Comics. Only a few of the All-American titles lasted to 1950 without a change of genre, this was one that would soon become ALL-STAR WESTERN. I don’t know who lettered it. Even after the merge, titles that originated at All-American seemed to have their own separate house ads done by someone other than Schnapp.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #155, Jan 1950

This is an example of a character ad, promoting other appearances of Batman and Robin. Definitely not by Schnapp, though trying to follow his ideas, letterer unknown.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #14, Dec. 1949/Jan 1950

Two ads on a full page split roughly in the center to promote three comics. I don’t know who lettered them. WONDER WOMAN and SENSATION were two other survivors from All-American, but SENSATION wouldn’t last much longer, and MISS BEVERLY HILLS also had a short run. These ads may have also been used separately as half-pagers.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #155, Jan 1950

This ad has information about how often these comics were published that many fans might not have known. This might be by Ira Schnapp, but I’m not sure, so I won’t count it.

From FUNNY FOLKS #23, Dec 1949/Jan 1950

This similar ad looks more like Schnapp’s work to me, though the spacing between lines is much wider than he would normally go. I guess I will call it for him.

From ACTION COMICS #140, Jan 1950

The first public service ad for 1950 is lettered by Ira Schnapp in his typical page lettering style. Ira also designed the Superboy logo, and many of the other cover logos seen in this post.

From GIRL’S LOVE STORIES #3, Dec 1949/Jan 1950

This romance ad is not typical of Ira Schnapp’s work, though it’s quite well done. Perhaps he was just trying out some different styles. I’m calling it for Ira.

From BUZZY #29, Jan/Feb 1950

This ad with similar text to one from 1948 is a mix of hand-lettering and type that suggests it was done by someone in the DC production department, but I don’t know who, not Ira. Ads for humor titles were most often run in other humor titles, as here.

From PETER PORKCHOPS #2, Jan/Feb 1950

On the other hand, ads for DC’s western titles might turn up anywhere. Not lettered by Schnapp. The wood frame is well done but the layout and lettering are not great.

From ACTION COMICS #141, Feb 1950

The second public service ad for 1950 is also lettered by Schnapp, who adds a fine title.

From THE ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD #3, Feb/March 1950

This ad for the short-lived series FEATURE FILMS is very much in the showcard style, and is by Schnapp. Great design and use of black, especially effective in the black and white version used on an inside cover.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #15, Feb/March 1950

Another ad in the showcard style, and while it’s not typical of Ira, it probably is by him, and I will count it.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #15, Feb/March 1950

This ad is full of great lettering by Schnapp. Bob Hope’s new title received a lot of house ads that ran in many titles, obviously a big promotional push. It may have worked, as the title sold well for many years. Ira also designed the logo and lettered most of the stories.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #4, Feb/March 1950

Another handsome romance ad by Ira Schnapp using one of his distinctive upper and lower case styles in the yellow section. The comic cover is another line version of a photo cover. DC’s romance titles used photo covers on early issues, then moved to line art.

From ACTION COMICS #142, March 1950

This PSA is also lettered by Ira Schnapp, and has a rare Wonder Woman appearance, I think the only one.

From ACTION COMICS #142, March 1950

Another character ad promoting Superman’s other titles and leaving room for the code message. It was probably lettered by Schnapp, though I’m not sure. I will count it for him.

From BUZZY #30, March/April 1950

Ads using just type were still being made for 1950 issues. The DC bullet symbol is the one revised by Ira Schnapp in 1949.

From SECRET HEARTS #4, March/April 1950

Yet another handsome romance ad by Ira Schnapp with large, appealing script lettering, though the bottom section is type probably made on the headline photo-type machine in the DC production department.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 50-04_PSA_Action_143_50.jpg
From ACTION COMICS #143, April 1950

These public service ads were the pet project of DC editor Jack Schiff, who probably wrote most of them. If so, his topics ran a wide range, but some, like this one, are still relevant today. Lettered by Schnapp.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #16, April/May 1950

Letterer unknown, definitely not Schnapp, who would not have done the top line so poorly. The rest is not much better.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #16, April/May 1950

Is this ad by Ira, or is it someone else imitating him? I think the latter. Again the spacing between lines is way off, and the open script at lower left is uneven and poorly done.

From ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #113, April/May 1950

This ad has lots of lettering probably by several hands. The top line open lettering is, I think, poorly done. Some of the other lettering is better. The second banner looks like Ira’s work, and possibly the bottom banner, the rest does not. I won’t count it for Ira.

From FUNNY FOLKS #25, April/May 1950

Most of this ad is repeated from one in 1948, only the top open lettering and the top two balloons have new work by Ira. I guess that’s enough to call it for him.

Another ad that uses just type, though the logo and story titles make it seem otherwise.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #5, April/May 1950

Another romance ad probably by Schnapp, this one has bounce and energy. The top line is type.

From THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET #4, April/May 1950

This ad has the same lettering as one that appeared in 1949 with new cover art. I won’t count it as a new ad, showing as an example of how some ads were reused.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #5, April/May 1950

Another romance ad probably by Ira Schnapp, though the script styles here are not ones he usually used. I’m calling it for Ira.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #152, May 1950

This one is lettered by Ira using many of the same layout and style techniques he employed through the 1950s: expansive background art adding depth, for instance, blocks of black, and handsome open lettering. Notice how even and regular much of the work is. The large open lettering at the top and bottom has some bounce and variety, it’s still more angular and classically shaped. This is Ira getting closer to his best ad work.

From ACTION COMICS #144, May 1950

Another PSA lettered by Schnapp. They seem to have been his regular assignment when he was available. While the ideas in the ads were well-meant, they also gave publicity to some of the company’s characters that readers might not be following, so were useful in that way too.

From BUZZY #31, May/June 1950

DC was really pushing Bob Hope’s title, with ads for every issue early on. I’m on the fence about who lettered it. Some things seem to be poor imitations of Ira’s work like the bottom line, and the spacing between lines in the caption is also suspect. I’m not counting it for Schnapp.

From FUNNY STUFF #54, May/June 1950

This ad has too many styles that don’t work together well, but I think it’s by Schnapp. Just not one of his better efforts.

From SECRET HEARTS #5, May/June 1950

Another fine romance ad by Ira.

From STAR-SPANGLED COMICS #105, June 1950

This PSA is different from the rest, being a single image and using mostly type. Ira probably designed A SALUTE, but I’m not sure so I won’t call it for him.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #6, June/July 1950

I think Ira Schnapp enjoyed working on all aspects of DC’s romance comics. He designed the logos, lettered the covers and many of the stories, and did most of the house ads, as here.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #6, June/July 1950

Certainly it gave Ira a chance to use script styles that were rarely appropriate on other genres, perhaps ones he’d developed and practiced often before working at DC.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #154, July 1954

The showcard look of the ads for FEATURE FILMS must also have been appealing to Schnapp, as they were probably similar to showcard work he’d been doing for movie theaters before joining the DC staff. I wonder if he did the background art here? It might be pulled from the story.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #161, July 1950

Another PSA lettered by Ira with a nice title. Some of these topics were a bit of a stretch as “public service.”

From BUZZY #32, July/Aug 1950

By Schnapp, this ad is rough around the edges and uneven, but perhaps it was needed in a hurry. I’ll count it for Ira.

From SECRET HEARTS #6, July/Aug 1950

Most of this romance ad is type. I don’t think Ira did the lettering in the center section that isn’t.

From LEAVE IT TO BINKY #15, July/Aug 1950

I would call the small amount of hand lettering on this ad poorly done, at least the top part, and not by Schnapp. The bottom section is headline type.

From ACTION COMICS #147, Aug 1950

This PSA is lettered by Ira.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #162, Aug 1950

This ad is puzzling. I like the top line, but it seems more appropriate for a western than a science fiction title. The bottom two captions are by Ira, but might have been picked up from another ad. The rest is uneven but with just enough Schnapp style to convince me to call it for him.

From HOLLYWOOD FUNNY FOLKS #27, Aug/Sept 1950

This charming ad is lettered by Ira. It must have been a favorite of the editors, as it continued to run with newer covers for a few years.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #18, Aug/Sept 1950

Another ad I’m not sure about, but there’s enough Schnapp style here to put it over the edge, so I will call it for him.

From A DATE WITH JUDY #18, Aug/Sept 1950

Not by Ira, and not very well done.

From ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #115, Aug/Sept 1950

This is lettered by Schnapp using some of the bouncier styles he had mostly left behind in the 1940s, but they still worked for humor titles.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #163, Sept 1950

Another PSA by Schnapp. The information at the bottom of this one has changed, apparently the Ad Council was no longer involved. This was the bottom blurb from here on.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #13, Sept/Oct 1950

Back to Ira for this romance ad, though again the bottom section is headline type.

From BUZZY #33, Sept/Oct 1950

This ad by an unknown letterer has work that’s often too small and not very good. Blocks of type suggest it was done in the production department.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #164, Oct 1950

One more ad I’m not sure about with some elements of Schnapp style, but not enough to convince me. I’m not calling it for him. The top line definitely does not look like Ira’s work.

From ACTION COMICS #149, Oct 1950

Another PSA lettered by Ira.

From THE ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD #7, Oct/Nov 1950

This ad is trying hard to be like Schnapp, but I’m not convinced. That too-wide spacing and uneven lettering in the scroll has me saying “not Ira.”

From A DATE WITH JUDY #19, Oct/Nov 1950

Like the last ad, this is another one I’m not sure about, but I see enough Schnapp style here to call it for him. The large letters at right center are the best part.

From HOLLYWOOD FUNNY FOLKS #28, Oct/Nov 1950

On this ad the lettering is poorly done and sometimes too small. The bottom two reused captions are by Schnapp, but I’m not counting this for him.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #165, Nov 1950

A PSA by Schnapp with an informed message on wildlife.

From Buzzy #34, Nov/Dec 1950

An ad not done by Ira probably from someone in the production department.

From ACTION COMICS #151, Dec 1950

The final PSA of 1950 is by Schnapp, making almost a clean sweep for him, missing only the July entry. Lots of lettering here, but no more than many story pages at the time.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #166, Dec 1950

One final ad that I’m not sure about, but it has enough Schnapp style points to convince me to call it for him.

Whew! That’s a lot of ads for one year! In future posts, I will focus on the ones by Schnapp. So, for 1950 cover dates I count 11 PSA ads and 25 house ads lettered by Ira, for a total of 36. A solid increase from 1949, but that still left a lot for other hands, a situation would soon change as DC came to further value Ira’s contribution to their brand. In a few years DC had him lettering nearly all their house ads.

More articles like this are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.