Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1957

All images © DC Comics. From STRANGE ADVENTURES #76, Jan 1957

The number of paid ads in 1957 was up and the number of house ads was down. Several ads from past years were reused, so Ira Schnapp was only asked to letter a few new ones. Most were for the romance line, which saw a new title introduced, and had almost no paid ads, leaving room for Ira’s new work, though several from the past were also reused. On public service ads, like the one above, Ira lettered eleven new ones, one was a repeat. I like the fact that this book quiz includes two fairly recent titles that have since become classics. Buzzy is name-checked but not seen.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #76, Jan 1957

This ad is not lettered by Schnapp, I don’t know who did it, but I like it and thought it worth showing. The fact that it’s all hand-lettered and uses no type suggests it might have been done by a freelancer, perhaps someone working for the Simon & Kirby studio, who provided the Challengers stories for SHOWCASE. Or it could have been lettered by a DC freelancer or staffer.

From ACTION COMICS #225, Feb 1957

Editor and writer Jack Schiff began moving away from using DC characters in the PSAs in this year. Some, like this one, were merely informational and supportive of cooperation between countries.

From GIRLS’ LOVE STORIES #46, March/April 1957

Full page romance ads from this era have some of Ira Schnapp’s best background work in addition to fine lettering and design. Most of the romance ads were now generic enough to be reused with new covers if needed.

From ACTION COMICS #227, April 1957

Encouraging careers in medicine seems like something comics could be doing today, as this PSA did then.

From SECRET HEARTS #39, April/May 1957

Ira’s ad work was presented excellently on the back covers of some romance titles, with better quality printing and paper than interior pages and great color. This one promotes the new title, brought over from Quality Comics. DC kept the Quality logo for a while (designed for Quality by staffer Al Grenet) probably in an attempt to keep existing readers, but Ira’s logo in this ad is so much better! I wonder if it was designed for use on the book? When Ira did do a new logo for the title in 1959, it was not as good as this one.

From ACTION COMICS #228, May 1957

This PSA again uses no DC characters, and the gag suggests the kind of nerd appeal radio equipment had at the time, similar to computer gear a few decades later. The message about volunteering is subtle for comics.

From ACTION COMICS #229, June 1957

This ad for a new Hollywood humor title ran in most DC titles other than the romance ones, and features some fine Schnapp lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #229, June 1957

Another PSA that shares information about current research in science, including the beginnings of the U.S. space program. It has a nice open title by Ira.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #245, July 1957

This company promotional ad by Schnapp is dynamic and full of fine work. It includes a huge example of his revised DC bullet symbol and the second mention of the Comics Code Authority as well as the code seal Ira designed. Remember that slogan contest DC did in 1956? The winners were announced in 1957, but no mention is made of a winning slogan. Could this be it? The tagline “The Line of Stars” is not new, it had been in use for a few years.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #245, July 1957

This public service ad turns back to Binky and his little brother Allergy to tell kids about making friends.

From ACTION COMICS #231, Aug 1957

Another PSA with no DC characters about the upsides of having a summer job. “Keeping busy can be fun!” I’m not sure Walt is convinced.

From FALLING IN LOVE #12, Aug 1957

A new Schnapp ad for the romance line now including five titles. Notice how the ribbon carries graceful curves through the entire page echoed by the edge of the bottom black area.

From ACTION COMICS #232, Sept 1957

Again no DC characters in this PSA about prejudice. Ira’s title might have enticed some to read it.

From FALLING IN LOVE #13, Sept 1957

Another fine example of Ira’s work on this generic romance ad with great design and background work, not to mention excellent lettering.

From ACTION COMICS #233, Oct 1957

This public service ad is probably the only one narrated by a dog!

From DETECTIVE COMICS #249, Nov 1957

Another informational PSA on the conservation work of President Roosevelt.

From FALLING IN LOVE #15, Dec 1957

These romance ads by Schnapp are full of elegant charm, and probably never seen by most DC readers, as they only ran in romance titles. DC was still keeping the National Romance Group separate from their other comics.

From ACTION COMICS #235, Dec 1957

Jack Schiff was clearly a supporter of the United Nations and their many programs. This one promotes UNICEF. I well remember collecting change at Halloween for it, as described here. Lots of sign work by Ira.

From FALLING IN LOVE #15, Dec 1957

Another generic ad for the entire romance line with more fine lettering and background work by Ira. His National Romance Group bullet symbol is here twice.

To sum up, I found eight new house ads by Schnapp, six of them for the romance books only. It’s interesting to note that SHOWCASE #4 with the premiere of the revamped Flash did not receive one, even though that issue changed the company’s future course. There were also eleven public service ads for a total of 19 new Ira Schnapp ads in 1957.

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

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