Continuing with this new series looking at Ira Schnapp’s DC Comics work on everything other than cover logos, cover lettering and story lettering, each post from here on will cover 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. Many are not lettered by Ira Schnapp, but I will include all the ones I found in this first yearly survey 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.
A lettered ad not by Schnapp, letterer unknown. This ad also had a full-page version, the two-thirds version here was adapted to fit above the code message appearing in every issue of ACTION COMICS. Ads not lettered by Ira or by Proto-Schnapp (more on him below) were probably lettered by other production staffers or possibly by freelancers. This ad is for a specific title and issue, so could not be reused later, but probably ran in several issues.
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.
This is an example of a character ad, promoting other appearances of Batman and Robin. I don’t know who lettered it.
Two ads on a full page split roughly in the center to promote three comics. I don’t know who lettered it. 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.
This ad has information about how often these comics were published that many fans might not have known. It has some styles similar to Schnapp, but I don’t think he lettered it. The ad was also resized to a two-thirds page layout.
I think whoever lettered the previous ad also did this one. Again, some similarities to Schnapp, but the spacing between lines is too wide, and the letter shapes are not quite right.
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.
This romance ad does not look like Ira Schnapp’s work to me, though it’s quite well done. It might be by his role model, an unknown letterer I’ve nicknamed Proto-Schnapp, who I believe also had training in showcard lettering. I have no hard info, but my theory is that Proto-Schnapp was an older man with a similar background to Ira’s.
The mix of hand-lettering and type on this ad 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.
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.
The second public service ad for 1950 is also lettered by Schnapp, who adds a fine title.
This ad for the short-lived series FEATURE FILMS is very much in the showcard style, and has the bouncy lettering I think is the work of Proto-Schnapp. Great design and use of black, especially effective in the black and white version used on an inside cover.
Another ad in the showcard style, and it might also be by Proto-Schnapp. It’s not by Ira.
This ad uses some of the same styles as the previous two and I think is by Proto-Schnapp, who shared some styles with Ira. 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.
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.
This PSA is also lettered by Ira Schnapp, and has a rare Wonder Woman appearance.
Another character ad promoting Superman’s other titles and leaving room for the code message. I don’t know who lettered it.
Ads using just type were still being made for 1950 issues. The DC bullet symbol is the one revised by Ira Schnapp in 1949.
Yet another handsome romance ad by Ira Schnapp with large, appealing script lettering, though the bottom section is type probably made on a headline photo-type machine in the DC production department.
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.
Letterer unknown, definitely not Schnapp, who would not have done the top line so poorly.
This ad has the earmarks of someone in DC’s production department trying to capture the showcard look of Ira Schnapp but not succeeding very well.
This ad has lots of lettering that may be by several hands. The top line open lettering is, I think, poorly done. Some of the other lettering is better.
I think this ad is lettered by Ira Schnapp, but I doubt he did the cartoon figures, which may be by someone else in the DC production department. The elements work well together.
Another ad that uses just type, though the logo and story titles make it seem otherwise.
I think this romance ad is by Proto-Schnapp, notice how much more bounce there is to some of the lettering, but it’s equally well done. The top line is type.
I think this ad was designed and lettered by Ira Schnapp. The top line was used earlier on the 2 SMASH HITS ad. Excellent work.
Another romance ad probably by Ira Schnapp, though the script styles here are not ones he usually used, so I’m not sure, but I’m calling it for Ira.
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. 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 than much of what Proto-Schnapp did. Great use of black.
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.
DC was really pushing Bob Hope’s title, with ads for every issue early on. I think this is lettered by Ira Schnapp, though the wide space between the lines in the balloon at the top suggests that part might be by someone else. Or not, hard to be sure.
This ad looks like the work of Proto-Schnapp. I don’t know when each of these ads was created, of course, nor do I know when Proto left DC, I can only guess it was around summer/fall of 1949 because Ira was on staff by fall of 1949, and I think he essentially replaced Proto. If that’s the case, perhaps this was created well ahead of time.
Another fine romance ad by Ira.
This PSA is different from the rest, being a single image and using mostly type. Ira might have designed A SALUTE, and because of that I’ll call it for him.
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.
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.
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.
Another PSA lettered by Ira with a nice title. Some of these topics were a bit of a stretch as “public service.”
I don’t know who lettered this ad, not Ira.
Most of this romance ad is type. I don’t think Ira did the lettering in the center section that isn’t.
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.
This PSA is lettered by Ira.
This ad is puzzling to me. The top display lettering is quite good, but unlike anything I’ve seen from Schnapp. The rest is also unlike Schnapp, but I don’t know who did it.
I think this charming ad is lettered by Ira., though some of the lettering is a bit off-model for him. The ad must have been a favorite of the editors, as it continued to run with newer covers for a few years.
Another ad not by Ira but imitating his style here and there.
Perhaps by that same person. Possibly Ira was unavailable when these were done. The substitute, probably a production staffer, did pretty well.
Yet another ad by someone other than Ira. It’s frustrating to not have more information about who was working in DC’s production department at the time.
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.
Back to Ira for this romance ad, though again the bottom section is headline type.
Another ad by an unknown letterer that’s often too small and not very good. Blocks of type suggest it was done in the production department.
An ad by someone trying to mimic Ira Schnapp, but I think not by him. The open lettering is definitely not in a style Ira ever used, but this is generally effective.
Another PSA lettered by Ira.
Whoever was lettering these house ads not by Schnapp certainly gave it their best effort, and at times it works nearly as well.
Another ad by an unknown letterer. The large display lettering at center right on this one is quite effective, the rest is not as good.
On this ad the lettering is poorly done and sometimes too small. The bottom two reused captions are probably by Schnapp.
A PSA by Schnapp with an informed message on wildlife.
An ad not done by Ira probably from someone in the production department. I’m detecting several different hands in these.
The final PSA of 1950 is by Schnapp, making it a clean sweep for him, though there’s just a small bit of lettering on the July entry.
One more ad by someone other than Schnapp. The best part of this one is the top line, but in general this is pretty good.
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 12 PSA ads and 14 house ads lettered by Ira, for a total of 26. That still left about half for other hands, but the situation would soon change as DC came to further value Ira’s contribution to their brand and in a few years had him lettering nearly all their house ads.
More articles like this are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.