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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This charming ad by Ira for the annual issue of RUDOLPH is full of great lettering.
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.
I think if Buzzy lectured his friends as much in his comic as he does in these PSAs, readers would flee.
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.
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.
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.
Continuing the brotherhood theme in this PSA, lots of lettering but Ira fits it all in.
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.
Another one reusing the top and bottom lines with new Schnapp lettering between.
Of the few ads not by Schnapp, this is the only one worth showing. It’s quite impressive, with masterful brush lettering, a good design, and appealing character art. I think the same person did the art and the lettering, but I don’t know who that was.
Binky is just as frequent a lecturer as Buzzy in these PSAs, but the ideas are generally good ones.
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.
Another reuse of the Batman third-page, only the story titles are new.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Over in the humor titles, Ira was promoting this ongoing series with more handsome lettering.
While I certainly support the message of this PSA now, I’m not sure I’d have believed it as a child.
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.
Buzzy gets to lecture a fellow student again in this PSA.
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.”
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.
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 20 new house ads by Schnapp and 10 new public service ads for a total of 30. 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.