Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1955

All images © DC Comics. From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #34, Jan 1955

The number of new house ads and public service ads went down in 1955. There seem to be about as many paid ads as the year before, maybe a few more, so why was that? First, DC reused some previous ads updated with new covers. Second, there were more new ads that could be reused the same way, and were. Third, the number of filler pages went up. Fillers could be many things from gag cartoons by people like Henry Boltinoff (he did most of them by this time), to puzzle and game pages to one-page informative articles in comics form on almost any topic that could be vaguely related to the genre of the title it was in. Those were often written by the editors and drawn by production staffers as freelance work. The ad above is a version of a 1954 ad reworked as a third-page generic ad, but with new Schnapp lettering. An even more generic one with just the lettering at lower right appeared with a list of DC titles in some issues.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #35, Feb 1955

The “NOW” theme was continued in a fine house ad by Schnapp promoting a new adventure anthology with a logo by Ira. As always, Ira’s layout and use of black is excellent, but my favorite thing is the rough brushwork outer border.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #35, Feb 1955

Some January issues reused an old public service ad. This was the first new one with an excellent title by Ira. Go ahead, take the quiz!

From ADVENTURE COMICS #209, Feb 1955

This is a typical puzzle page and not lettered by Ira, but he did do the SUPERGRAM logo, one of the many variations on his SUPERMAN logo design. Not counting it, just wanted to note it.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #31, Feb/March 1955

There were only four new romance ads in 1955. Several older ones were reused. The large lettering at the top of this one is an unusual style for Ira, but the romance ads seemed to bring out his creativity. This ad was also done in a full page size.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #36, March 1955

The United Nations was a favorite topic for PSAs, clearly something editor/writer Jack Schiff was a fan of. This one gets into the weeds…literally.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #37, April 1955

The top third of this ad will be familiar to you if you’ve read any DC comics from 1955 to the early 1960s. It’s one of Ira Schnapp’s most elaborate and memorable designs with masterful pen work in the certificate border and impressive title work on GUARANTEE. It served as a third-page ad for many years, but this is the original use, as part of a generic ad promoting two titles. DC liked it so much they reused it a number of times in later months of 1955 with other covers. It’s also the first mention of the Comics Code Authority, whose symbol, designed by Ira, began appearing on DC covers early in this year.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #37, April 1955

Sometimes funny animals were the right vehicle to tell kids how to do the right thing. This ad is wordy, but well written, and Ira makes it work.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #38, May 1955
From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #39, June 1955
From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #40, July 1955

Teen humor characters Binky and Buzzy were the ones most often used in PSAs, as stand-ins for readers in social situations, I guess. These three are along those lines. I don’t think the third one is lettered by Schnapp, but I don’t know who did letter it.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #36, July/Aug 1955

Another classy Schnapp romance ad with impressive lettering, effective layout and use of black. His background art is equally fine.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #41, Aug 1955

This PSA encourages kids to not fear being different and to think outside the box, good sentiments.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #37, Sept/Oct 1955

This Schnapp ad heralds the launch of a new romance title, making it four at DC. I love the scroll.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #43, Oct 1955

Two more new title launches are promoted in this ad with lots of fine lettering by Ira. It’s a busy page, but the angles help make it work.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #43, Oct 1955

Buzzy lectures us again about the value of school in this PSA.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #44, Nov 1955

This unusual page promotes DC comics and an award they won, which is reproduced beautifully. The award was for DC’s public service ads. Is it the first award DC ever won for anything? I’m not sure, but I can’t think of an earlier one. This must have given Jack Schiff support and satisfaction for his pet project, and DC was obviously happy for the chance to promote their comics, too. Ira added lots of lettering, but the layout does not look crowded.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #44, Nov 1955

More PSA work about getting along with and understanding your neighbors. The Japanese girl here is a far cry from the stereotypes of the previous decade.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #36, Dec 1955

The final romance ad of the year features two titles, and is generic enough to be reused in the future with different covers.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #45, Dec 1955

And the final new PSA of the year returns to the United Nations, and has no DC character in it. Ira’s lettering helps make the story more interesting to my eye.

For 1955 I count nine new house ads and nine new public service ads by Ira Schnapp for a total of 18, well down from 1954. We’ll see how that changes in future years.

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

All I could find on the Women’s International Exposition of 1954.

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