Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1956

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #64, Jan 1956. All images © DC Comics

House ads and public service ads were again lower in 1956, but Ira Schnapp lettering appeared for the first time in two paid ads, this being the first one, covering two pages. The ad was probably prepared by DC for their toy clients, who each might have contributed a small fee, but that’s just a guess. In addition to the title, word balloon and lower right caption, Ira probably also did lettering on the package art. Meanwhile, DC reused several house ads and PSAs from previous years, and there was also a 5000 prize slogan contest that took up four or more pages of every DC title, cutting back room for house ads. The contest pages were all set in type. Ira did have ads to letter, but the only book that got a major promotional push was the new title SHOWCASE, with ads for each of the first three issues.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #65, Feb 1956

The first new public service ad of the year features some Ira Schnapp handwriting captions, which are probably close to his own regular script. Buzzy and Binky again dominated the new PSAs.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #66, March 1956

Binky’s ad promotes tooth care for kids and their pets, an unusual topic.

From MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #8, March/April 1956

DC clearly had high hopes for their new tryout series SHOWCASE. It would become very successful, but not in the way they expected, when issue #4 featured a revamped version of The Flash. Prior to that, the subjects were more mundane, but Ira Schnapp was selling them with all his skill.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #67, April 1956

Binky and friends on joining up to have fun.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #67, April 1956

It had been a while since DC’s titles featuring Superman had any promotion in house ads, and Ira did that nicely here. Notice how the black semicircle at the bottom and lines radiating from it holds things together.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #68, May 1956

May titles saw the first appearance of another paid ad designed by Ira Schnapp, one that would run for years in many variations, often with Schnapp lettering additions, sometimes with work by others. This was a half-page size, some were third-pages. Other versions in 1956 used the same lettering. The fancy coupon border is new, though similar to the one he did for the Guarantee ad in 1955. Though I grew up in New Jersey, I never got to this amusement park. I guess my parents weren’t enticed by the 25 cent coupon. The park had opened in 1898 and remained open and popular until 1971. It was close to New York City, but actually not close to where I lived.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #50, May 1956

It didn’t take Superman to get me into libraries, they were some of my favorite places, or would be in a year or two. I was just five when this ad ran.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #68, May 1956

I think editor Robert Kanigher wrote this clever ad for the second issue of SHOWCASE, one he edited. The title had rotating features and editors. The idea of a trail of animal tracks was perfect for Schnapp’s drawing skills, and as always his design and selling points were excellent.

From MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #9, May/June 1956

Showing his versatility, look at the different styles Ira used for this new humor title, and they all work well together.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #69, June 1956

Ira Schnapp did not letter this PSA, I don’t know who did.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #69, June 1956

Ira’s ad for this new Hollywood humor title is full of great lettering and design. His logo fits right in, too.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #70, July 1956

I think Binky narrates this PSA, though he’s not named. Ira’s lettering on the posters is meant to look a bit amateurish, done by children, but I’m not convinced.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #70, July 1956

The third SHOWCASE AD, perhaps again written by Kanigher, adds interest with an Ira Schnapp explosion.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #42, July/Aug 1956

The first of only two new Schnapp romance ads for 1956. It’s generic enough to be reused later with different covers, but the musical theme is memorable and well-drawn.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #71, Aug 1956

There’s no dialogue in this PSA, but Ira ads a nice title and some signs. Unlike the one from 1949 that used Smokey the Bear with permission, this one simply has a similar but more cartoony bear.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #74, Nov 1956

Here’s a PSA about getting out the vote that couldn’t be more relevant today.

From FALLING IN LOVE #8, Nov/Dec 1956

The other new romance ad is also generic. Perhaps DC had told the editors to make them easier to repeat if necessary, and not just about one particular issue. The title on this one uses deep perspective to add depth.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #75, Dec 1956

The last new PSA for this year again promotes the United Nations. I visited the U.N. as a child, and would have enjoyed reading this ad lettered by Ira.

For 1956 I count two paid ads, eight house ads and eight public service ads for a total of 18 lettered by Ira Schnapp. We’ll see if that number increases in the future.

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

Palisades Amusement Park on Wikipedia.

Ira Schnapp’s other work on SHOWCASE.

2 thoughts on “Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1956

  1. Clem Robins

    the first PSA, on how to be a good babysitter, ends with what may be the single best piece of advice ice ever seen in a comic book. it may be about babysitting, but it applies to pretty much everything. “Take the job seriously and you’ll always be in demand.”

  2. Kevin

    I was surprised by the “Supergirl” costume in the double page ad at the top of this post, since this was about three years before Supergirl existed! It’s a “Superman for girls” costume, I guess. I just found a boxed version on eBay (“SUPERMAN PLAY SUIT Size 8 Funtime Playwear Vintage 1950’s”) for $246 (I’ll pass). The boy and girl are on the box art, just like in the ad, but the actual (incomplete) costume is the boys version. I wonder if the girls skirt version also existed? (Search eBay for “Supergirl funtime playwear,” and things quickly take a turn for the naughty…) Anyway, it’s funny how close this 1956 costume looks to the 1959 character.

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