Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1951

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #152, Jan. 1951

From 1951 on I will generally be showing only the DC house ads lettered by Ira Schnapp. That number dropped from 1950, but house ads in general seem to be fewer in the issues published with 1951 cover dates (actually work done from fall 1950 to fall 1951). I haven’t counted all the ads, but I’m sure there are less than the year before, and a few 1950 ads were still running in 1951, sometimes with newer covers. The public service ads created and often written by DC editor Jack Schiff continued to appear in almost every DC issue, and added eleven new ones. All are lettered by Ira Schnapp. The first is above.

From STAR-SPANGLED COMICS #112, Jan. 1951

This ad uses a large three-dimensional headline in the same style as Ira Schnapp’s STRANGE ADVENTURES logo. The rest of the lettering is in a style he rarely used, and then for robotic speech, which I guess is appropriate for a science fiction title. Not sure about it, but I believe it’s Ira’s work.

The next PSA is my all-time favorite, being a fan of reading myself! It stars three relatively lesser-known DC heroes, though of course Green Arrow would become a DC stalwart. I love the Schnapp title.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #162, March 1951

This ad is full of styles that Schnapp used in the 1940s, but rarely after that, so possibly this one was done some time before it was used. The background art is something Ira could have done, and the DC bullet symbol is the one Schnapp revised in 1949. The open headline is full of energy, a great ad by Ira.

From ACTION COMICS #154, March 1951

The next PSA features Buzzy and his frequent annoyance, Wolfie. Any similarities to Archie Andrews and his annoyance Reggie are coincidental, right?

From ACTION COMICS #155, April 1951

As usual, Superman has the right idea in this PSA, which seems more relevant today than ever.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #171, May 1951

This line ad appeared in many issues, and though it shows twelve covers, as the ad says, there were many more as the DC line continued to grow. Titles not shown are ACTION, ADVENTURE, ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD, ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN, ALL-STAR COMICS, BIG TOWN, BUZZY, COMIC CAVALCADE, DANGER TRAIL, DETECTIVE, FUNNY STUFF, GIRLS’S LOVE STORIES, GIRLS’ ROMANCES, HOLLYWOOD FUNNY FOLKS, JIMMY WAKELY, LEADING COMICS, LEAVE IT TO BINKY, PETER PORKCHOPS, SENSATION, STAR-SPANGLED, STRANGE ADVENTURES, WESTERN COMICS and WORLD’S FINEST. The bottom line is headline type, but I think the central lettering is by Schnapp.

From ACTION COMICS #156, May 1951

These public service ads were, of course, more like story pages than most house ads, and the lettering by Schnapp reflects that, but they did place his work in almost every DC title.

From ACTION COMICS #157, June 1951

When the PSA was run on an inside cover, it could only use black ink and gray halftone dots that did not appear in the color version, so two variations of each PSA must have been made. Another fine title by Ira and another topic that’s still relevant.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #9, June/July 1951

In 1950, DC romance titles had quite a few fine Ira Schnapp ads. Some of those were reused with newer covers in 1951, and a few new ads were by other hands. This new one looks like it has Schnapp script lettering to me. though parts of it are typeset.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #173, July 1951

DC’s teen humor characters show up often in the PSAs, perhaps because they could discuss topics more relevant to teens.

From COMIC CAVALCADE #46, Aug. 1951

DC’s funny animals also have their moments in the PSAs, and here’s another character named Wolfie. I love the Schnapp title on this one.

From ACTION COMICS #160, Sept. 1951

DC employees can be said to not be subject to ageism at this time in the company’s history, having pages like this lettered by Schnapp in his late 50s as an example, and production staffer Raymond Perry was 75 at the time. Most of the staff were well past their twenties, something that became a problem a decade later when they were trying to compete with Stan Lee at Marvel Comics.

From ACTION COMICS #161, Oct. 1951

I wonder how many readers actually read and thought about the topics in these public service ads? I don’t remember if I did or not, but later ones are certainly familiar.

From STAR-SPANGLED COMICS #122, Nov. 1951

Now, here’s an excellent house ad from Ira Schnapp! I’ve long felt that Ira’s weakest genre was “scary” lettering, but he does it well here, and the overall design and layout are atmospheric and impressive, even though his HOUSE OF MYSTERY logo is mundane. This shows an excellent use of black that Ira would have learned from showcard lettering, and the background art is very Art Deco. I was not yet a comics reader, having been just born in 1951, but if I was, I would have tried to find this comic!

From DETECTIVE COMICS #177, Nov. 1951

Another PSA that’s relevant today. Perhaps some current and recent American leaders weren’t comics readers…

From SENSATION COMICS #106, Nov. 1951

Another dynamic “scary” ad from Ira that I don’t think is quite as successful, but still much better than contemporary DC ads by others, and there were still a number of those in 1951. This shows how DC was trying to save some long-running superhero books by converting them to other genres, something that didn’t usually work for long.


The final Ira Schnapp ad I’ve found in 1951 is this one, which is again quite dynamic and appealing. Ira was becoming one of DC’s best-kept promotional secrets, and editors must have looked at ads like these and said, “I’d like Ira to do work like this for me.” Soon he’d be doing more of it!

For 1951 I count seven house ads and eleven public service ads for a total of 18 ads lettered by Ira.

More articles like this are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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