Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1954

All images © DC Comics. From ACTION COMICS #188, Jan 1954

In 1954 Ira Schnapp continued to dominate the lettering of house ads and public service ads at DC Comics, though there were a few by others, and a few from previous years were reused, sometimes with changes. An example of that is above. Most of this third-page ad appeared in Dec 1952 issues, but “is Super-TV” by Ira replaces his previous lettering. I’m counting it as a new ad because otherwise it would go uncounted, and that doesn’t seem right to me. Your opinion on this may be different.

From ACTION COMICS #188, Jan 1954

Another example, this ad reuses THREE SMASHING ADVENTURES and the bottom banner from an ad run in December 1953 titles, replacing Batman in that one with Superman in this one. Again, I will count it as a new ad for Schnapp.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #27, Jan/Feb 1954

DC did fewer new romance house ads in this year. They reused some from past years, and in general had more paid ads. This is one of just three new ones by Ira for 1954, and the only one focused on a particular issue.

From ACTION COMICS #189, Feb 1954

Fawcett got out of the comics publishing business in late 1953, and DC brought this western title over from them, continuing the numbering. Cassidy starred in a long series of movies and also a TV show. Ira’s style in the large top caption is unusual for him, as is the name of the publisher being hyphenated as “D-C,” but everything else about the ad is pure Schnapp.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #107, Feb 1954

January issues repeated an old public service ad, this one in February issues is new, and lettered by Schnapp. He would letter nine more. With two exceptions, the 1954 new PSAs used teen humor characters Binky and Buzzy.

From THE FOX AND THE CROW #14, Feb 1954

This charming ad by Ira for the annual issue of RUDOLPH is full of great lettering.

From BATMAN #81, Feb 1954

Here’s another version of that THREE SMASHING ADVENTURES ad focused on Superboy. only the curved arrows and the word OF are new, but I will still count it.

From ACTION COMICS #190, March 1954

I think if Buzzy lectured his friends as much in his comic as he does in these PSAs, readers would flee.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #25, April 1954

This ad by Schnapp recycles one from 1947 shown in my 1940s post. Only the lettering in the lower half of the wooden sign is new, but I’m going to count this as a new ad for Ira. It does confirm that the first version was by him, I think.

From ACTION COMICS #191, April 1954

Some of you that are my age might know the Tom Lehrer song about this yearly event that began in the 1930s and petered out by the 1990s. This PSA is set up as a quiz, a way to get more kids to read it.

From COMICS CAVALCADE #62, April/May 1954

DC continued to promote their new fantasy/funny animal title in 1954, but only in other humor titles. The top two lines and the bottom caption are repeated from the 1953 ad, the rest is new.

From ACTION COMICS #192, May 1954

Continuing the brotherhood theme in this PSA, lots of lettering but Ira fits it all in.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #200, May 1954

Here’s the start of a kind of third-page ad the Ira did a lot of, similar to the THREE SMASHING ADVENTURES ones above, but taking up less space. More ads were being sold by DC to fill the lower third of the last story page that many stories were now leaving blank, but when there weren’t enough of those, ads like this went there. The cover reproduction is quite small, so the selling point was really Ira’s lettering and the intriguing story titles.

From ACTION COMICS #193, June 1954

Another one reusing the top and bottom lines with new Schnapp lettering between.

From ACTION COMICS #193, June 1954

At first I thought this was lettered by someone other than Schnapp, but after seeing some similar work by him in the 1940s, I now think it’s by him. It’s quite impressive, with masterful brush lettering, a good design, and appealing character art not by Ira.

From ACTION COMICS #193, June 1954

Binky is just as frequent a lecturer as Buzzy in these PSAs, but the ideas are generally good ones.

From SUPERBOY #34, July 1954

Superboy was the only DC hero to appear in a PSA in this year, promoting fire safety. The curved list of suggestions at lower left was no problem for Ira.

From ACTION COMICS #195, Aug 1954

Another reuse of the Batman third-page, only the story titles are new.

From ACTION COMICS #195, Aug 1954

Ira and readers were probably more entertained by his full-page house ads like this one promoting a short-lived series tryout for a long-running feature from ACTION COMICS. I love the huge J in JOIN.

From ACTION COMICS #195, Aug 1954

A funny animal character having a moment to shine in this PSA. The story title at the top has an unusual graduated fill from Ira.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #29, Aug 1954

WORLD’S FINEST had long been a larger than usual anthology selling for 15 cents and featuring Superman and Batman stories as well as other characters. With issue #71, shown here, the price dropped, the page count was reduced to 36 pages like most DC titles then, and for the first time Superman and Batman appeared in the lead story together. This fine Schnapp ad highlights all those elements with a gigantic burst for the price change. Could saving a nickel ever get more exciting?

From ACTION COMICS #196, Sept 1954

Yet another use of the same Batman third-page ad with only the story titles having new lettering. I still feel it’s worth counting.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #30, Sept 1954

But a full page Schnapp ad like this one for Jimmy Olsen’s new title is much more satisfying, and of course much more work for Ira. These very different workloads even out in my mind. Art like that at the bottom is picked up from a story page with Ira adding the cloud I think.

From THE FOX AND THE CROW#19, Sept 1954

Over in the humor titles, Ira was promoting this ongoing series with more handsome lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #196, Sept 1954

While I certainly support the message of this PSA now, I’m not sure I’d have believed it as a child.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #31, Sept/Oct 1954

Ever versatile, Ira switches gears for this generic romance ad with elegant lettering and an appealing background. This ad could be and was reused for other romance issues.


Surprisingly, this was the only war comics ad I could find for 1954 promoting the newest DC war title. The planes are probably from a story, the rest of the background is by Ira making good use of his talents.

From ACTION COMICS #197, Oct 1954

Buzzy gets to lecture a fellow student again in this PSA.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #213, Nov 1954

Ira returns to the NOW MORE THAN EVER ad style from 1952, but this has all new lettering. It’s a generic line ad which could show any four titles, though the lettering is far from generic. Another example of “D-C.”

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #32, Nov/Dec 1954

Ira’s final romance ad of the year is also generic, and could apply to any two issues. His display lettering at the top is masterful.

From JIMMY OLSEN #2, Nov/Dec 1954

The final PSA of the year, lettered once more by Ira, with Buzzy and Wolfie playing the good and bad kid roles.

For 1954, I count 21 new house ads by Schnapp and 10 new public service ads for a total of 31. Ira is now firmly in place as the visual style setter for DC.

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

More about National Brotherhood Week on PRI.

2 thoughts on “Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1954

  1. Dean Miller

    Hi. Is there a font in existence that mimics Ira’s fonts? I’d love to ad it to Photoshop’s fonts.

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