Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1952

From COMIC CAVALCADE #48, Dec 1951/Jan 1952. All images © DC Comics

In 1952, DC’s creation of house ads increased somewhat from the previous year, and Ira Schnapp’s work on them increased a lot. His work was obviously popular with editors and readers, and in this year it made up about three-quarters of DC’s own ads. The ad above shows Ira now firmly in command of the tools that brought him favor, with layout and design learned from showcard lettering in his past and appealing lettering styles and techniques. The ads were probably written by the editors, but Ira’s job was to sell the product, and he did it well. Possibly he also had some input on the words used. Certainly he chose the ones to emphasize, I would say.

From ACTION COMICS #164, Jan. 1952

DC’s public service ads continued to run every month, and in 1952 eleven of them were lettered by Ira Schnapp.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #15, Jan/Feb 1952

One major factor in the increase in ad work by Ira was a surge in handsome back cover ads by him on DC’s romance titles like this one. Editor Robert Kanigher’s style is evident in the text, and Ira’s appealing and elegant script styles are often on display. After only one new romance ad in 1951, there were 14 in 1952.

From ACTION COMICS #165, Feb. 1952

DC’s teen characters were again frequently used in the PSAs, which not only allowed for more teen topics but perhaps exposed them to new readers. Overly wordy ads like this one might not have helped their case, though. Lettered by Schnapp.

From SECRET HEARTS #8, Feb/March 1952

Look at the excellent design work and use of black on this ad from Ira, and he probably did the background art as well. Ads like this must have taken a lot longer to do than a typical story page or cover, but they also gave Schnapp a chance to better use the skills he’d developed in a lifetime of previous work. Ira turned 58 in 1952, and his skill and experience were the ideal solution for DC’s ad work.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #181, March 1952

Buzzy and Binky were the two teen humor characters that showed up most often in PSAs, with their casts of supporting characters. Lettered by Schnapp.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #16, March/April 1952

DC’s romance titles were largely kept separate from all the others, so house ads in them mostly advertise each other. This allowed editor Kanigher to produce elaborate back cover ads like this for one specific issue that was used only on the other two romance books, or sometimes only one. This must have added to the line’s cost, but Kanigher must have felt it was worth it. Certainly his romance titles sold well for many years after he was no longer editor. Lettered by Ira.

From ACTION COMICS #167, April 1952

The only PSA not lettered by Schnapp in 1952 was this one lettered by Gaspar Saladino, who also sometimes filled in for Ira on covers when he wasn’t available. The difference in lettering style is obvious to me, but probably wasn’t noticed by many readers. The title is either a good imitation of Ira by Gaspar, or Ira did it, but I won’t call this ad for Ira.

From SECRET HEARTS #9, April/May 1952

Just look through these romance ads by Schnapp and notice the variety of layouts but similarity of style and approach. It’s a master class in ad design for the time.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #14, April/May 1952

And Kanigher’s ad copy cleverly draws in readers by asking them to think about the decisions made by the characters and think about how they would have acted. This is great selling.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #17, May/June 1952

The background by Ira on this one is almost psychedelic, a precursor to the 1960s. His script styles on the large lettering is beautiful, too.

From SENSATION COMICS #109, May/June 1952

Back to Schnapp lettering for the rest of the PSAs in this year. I like the sentiment in this one.

From SECRET HEARTS #10, June/July 1952

The three-dimensional effect in the background of this ad is reminiscent of the early one Ira did for Canadian editions in the late 1940s. Notice how NOW ON SALE at the bottom is connected to the black lower border.

From ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #126, June/July 1952

There were still DC house ads by others in this year, but Ira’s were by far the best. Here’s one that could be reused with any two DC covers, and was. The large black lettering in the arrow is helped by the white outlines around it, something probably added for the black and white inside cover treatment.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #6, Sept 1952

Lettering from the ad was repurposed for a third-page ad a few months later. In 1952 DC began selling more third-page ads, so many stories ended with only two-thirds of the page used on the last page to make room for them. When there weren’t enough paid ads to fill those spaces, house ads like this did. This version was probably made by someone other than Ira, and doesn’t count as a separate ad.

From ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #126, June/July 1952

This PSA promotes ideas that might be considered socialism today by some, and showing that socialized health care had a long history in America.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #15, June/July 1952

Another back cover romance ad by Schnapp that many DC readers probably never saw.

From ACTION COMICS #170, July 1952

Joining DC’s Bob Hope comic was this one featuring a very popular comedy team. It sold well even after Martin and Lewis split up, leaving Jerry with a solo title. The top open lettering is pretty bouncy for Ira, and quite effective. Notice the date lag between this title with a July cover date that must have been on sale in May like the comic in the ad. DC did this hoping issues would stay on newsstands longer.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #5, Aug 1952

A third-page version of this ad has new lettering by Ira, so I count it as a separate ad.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #178, July 1952

Here’s topic that you weren’t likely to find in many comics stories, mental illness and PTSD. I think it’s handled pretty well.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #18, July/Aug 1952

If one large question mark isn’t enough, why not three? In the 1950s, readers of these comics probably had a lot more questions than answers about romance.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #186, Aug 1952

If only Superman were around to save us from our errors of judgment!

From SUPERBOY #21, Aug/Sept 1952

In 1952, DC’s war comics were just getting started, also edited by Robert Kanigher. He knew ads by Ira Schnapp would help sell his products.

From SECRET HEARTS #11, Aug/Sept 1952

And why not combine the genres of romance and war, thought Kanigher? Ira was ready to provide the ad and background art!

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #16, Aug/Sept 1952

How many readers of this comic had a man they loved? Those who didn’t could still imagine one.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #187, Sept 1952

Water safety, a good topic, and I like the use of black on this art by Win Mortimer.

From ACTION COMICS #172, Sept 1952

Another scary ad from Ira that works pretty well, though I don’t find his treatment of the word MYSTERY very effective.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #19, Sept/Oct 1952

This ad panders a bit to teen insecurities, but Ira’s large JEALOUSY is wel done. I also like the bottom banner.

From ACTION COMICS #173, Oct 1952

Here’s an example of how a half-page ad with lettering by Ira at the bottom could be paired with another half-page ad using all type and created in DC’s production department. It’s likely Ira did two half page ads on the same piece of art paper, and they were mixed and matched in various ways.

From SUPERBOY #22, Oct/Nov 1952

And here’s the another Schnapp half-pager for Bob Hope probably created with the one above. I’ll consider each a separate Schnapp ad.

From ACTION COMICS #173, Oct 1952

Another nicely done PSA probably written by Jack Schiff, who may have been the conscience of DC in some ways.

From SECRET HEARTS #12, Oct/Nov 1952

In addition to all the other styles on this romance ad, Ira used some of his Old English style in the bottom section. It works well. The theatrical background art seems a good choice for one of these melodramatic ads.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #17, Oct/Nov 1952

The emphasis on many of these ads is on the word YOU.

From ACTION COMICS #174, Nov 1952

On these two half-page ads, only the smaller lettering on the lower one is by Ira, the open lettering above that is headline type, and the lettering on the upper ad is by someone else. I still count this as one Schnapp ad.

From ACTION COMICS #174, Nov 1952

A PSA about taking voting seriously, but handled in a way kids would understand. Well done.

From BATMAN #73, Nov/Dec 1952

Another action-filled war comics ad from Ira. Explosions make everything more exciting, but also notice the effective silhouettes at the bottom.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #190, Dec 1952

At the end of 1952, Schnapp created this ad that could be and was used to promote many different comics with only small changes need on the lettering.

From MYSTERY IN SPACE #11, Dec 1952/Jan 1953

For instance, this one is the same except for the cover and the word MYSTERY in the bottom arrow, replacing HUMOROUS. I count these variations as all one ad.

From ACTION COMICS #175, Dec 1952

The top two-thirds of this version would count as a variation of the previous ad with only the word ADVENTURE added, but the bottom third is a new Schnapp ad that filled many third-page slots in many comics over the next few years, possibly one of Ira’s most-used house ads. It got my attention, though I think I discovered the Superman TV show before I ever saw this ad in a comic.

From ACTION COMICS #175, Dec 1952

The final Schnapp ad for 1952 is this PSA promoting the United Nations UNICEF program, certainly a worthwhile ad and effort.

For 1952 I count 11 public service ads he lettered and 26 house ads for a total of 37. Ira was really rolling now, and his ad work would continue to increase in the years ahead.

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

Superman on TV from Wikipedia.

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.