Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1959 Part 1

All images © DC Comics. From JIMMY OLSEN #34, Jan 1959

In 1959, DC house ads in general and Ira Schnapp’s work on them took a large jump upward. I don’t know the reason for this…a change in thinking by management? Fewer paid ads? Feedback from fans? Whatever the reason, there were a lot more house ads. I’ll have to see exactly how many more as we go along, because deciding how to count them is something I still have to figure out as I go. For one thing, ads for specific issues were much more common, like the half-page one above with fine lettering by Ira. There are so many to show and discuss that I’ve broken this year into two posts.


There were ten new public service ads, all lettered by Ira, joining two repeats from the past. None of the new ones included any DC characters, making it less likely comics readers would pay attention to them, in my opinion, even if the ideas were sound.

From LOIS LANE #7, Feb 1959

After being ignored in his SHOWCASE appearances, the first issue of THE FLASH gained one of Ira Schnapp’s best full-pagers, probably written by editor Julius Schwartz, but well designed by Ira to catch readers’ attention. I know I was sold! Because I didn’t see many comics for sale where I lived, this ad in some title I had was the first I knew about the new character and series.

From LOIS LANE #7, Feb 1959

Jack Schiff’s PSAs continued to support libraries, a worthy subject. Ira’s title might have gained this one some readers.

From WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #100, March 1959

Another half-page ad promoting a particular issue with some handsome script work by Ira at the right, reminding me of his romance ads.

From BATMAN #122, March 1959

As I read it, this PSA doesn’t offer any solutions for sibling rivalry, just reveals it, perhaps thinking it would make kids see it from an outsider’s perspective.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 59-03_Villain_BATMAN-122-011-1.jpg
From BATMAN #122, March 1959

Another half-page ad for a specific issue with fine display lettering by Ira. I love the title in the very old-school bat shape.

From SUPERBOY #71, March 1959

A third-page ad for a particular issue. Many of these were directing readers who liked the book they had to another one with the same character, and in this case, a crossover story.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #266, April 1959

This half-page ad, on the other hand, was for an unrelated title, but one by the same editorial team. It seems that each editor was being allowed to commission ads for their own books from Ira, giving him lots more ad work than in the past few years.

From JIMMY OLSEN #36, April 1959

This PSA is a very unsubtle quiz on racism and intolerance of other kinds. My favorite part is the faces in section A, possibly by Ira.

From JIMMY OLSEN #36, April 1959

Ira was also still producing handsome full-page ads that ran in many titles, like this one. The figure art is from the issue, but I like Ira’s shield at lower right and all the display lettering styles.

From ACTION COMICS #2532, May 1959
From ADVENTURE COMICS #260, May 1959
From LOIS LANE #9, May 1959
From SUPERMAN #129, May 1959

Now we come to a new type of third-page ad which was probably the idea of editor Mort Weisinger, as the titles in it were mostly edited by him. Ira created the frame with the title COMING SUPER ATTRACTIONS, and the three boxes, each of which promoted a different title and issue from the same or upcoming month. The titles covered are ACTION, ADVENTURE, LOIS LANE, SUPERBOY and JIMMY OLSEN. Each ad promoted three titles other than the one the ad ran in. Lois Lane is only there once, the others are used twice or three times, for a total of five different blocks of lettering Ira needed to do. All this work together seems like the rough equivalent of one full-page house ad, so I guess that’s how I’ll count it. The format and frame were repeated with different contents in each of the remaining months of 1959, so I will count each of those as another separate house ad, even though the frame is the same. Because there were so many variations and uses, I might have missed a few.

From FALLING IN LOVE #26, May 1959

Over in the essentially separate Romance Group, there were just two new generic romance ads by Ira Schnapp that ran on back covers, and a few were repeated from past years.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #267, May 1959

Speaking of time, this full-page ad must have taken Ira some time to do, it’s all text except for the issue cover and the background art. Ira’s work on lettering for house ads was done more carefully than what he lettered on story pages, and must have taken longer.

From SUPERMAN #129, May 1959

Another appealing full-pager that ran in multiple titles heralding the introduction of Supergirl with lots of large display lettering.

From WORLD’S FINEST #101, May 1959

This half-page ad for TOMAHAWK shows that DC was now willing to promote even the less-known titles of their line, and wanted Ira to do it. And, if you’re counting, that’s about four and a half pages of ads lettered by Schnapp just for May titles. The ad explosion was on!

From SHOWCASE #20, May/June 1959

These PSAs are becoming more like mini family comedies, aren’t they? And if you add this to the May list, as I would, that makes five and a half pages Ira did on ads for May on top of all his cover and page lettering.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #269, June 1959

This ad is a repeat from 1958 except for the story titles and cover image, just wanted to point out how some ads were repurposed. I won’t count this one as a new ad, even though Schnapp did a small amount of new lettering on it.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #268, June 1959

Palisades Park teamed up with a circus for this new full page paid ad that ran in most titles. I think it’s all Ira’s work except the Superman and Emmett Kelly art.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #261, June 1959
From ACTION COMICS #253, June 1959
From SUPERBOY #73, June 1959
From JIMMY OLSEN #37, June 1959

The June COMING SUPER ATTRACTIONS ad in all the versions I could find with new lettering. I love the word balloon from baby Lois. Some of these are repeats from the previous set, some are new. The key is to check the month listed, May blurbs are repeats, June ones might be, July blurbs are definitely new. Confusing!

From BATMAN #125, June 1959

It’s hard to decide if Ira lettered the title of this new letters page header, or if it’s by someone else in the DC production department. I’m leaning toward the latter, so won’t attribute it to Ira.


Another PSA for kids with problems. I hope it was helpful to some.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #268, June 1959

This ad was generic enough to apply to any of the DC horror, adventure and science fiction titles, and was reused with other ones. The three bursts really catch my eye.

From SUGAR AND SPIKE #23, June/July 1959

DC’s dwindling funny animal books did not get much attention at this time, but Ira created a fine generic ad for them with some of his bounciest titles.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #88, July 1959

This ad was repurposed from the earlier one in this post with just new story info and cover. I’m not counting it as a separate ad, though Ira did some new work for it.

From ACTION COMICS #254, July 1959
From JIMMY OLSEN #38, July 1959
From SUPERMAN #130, July 1959
From SUPERBOY #74, July 1959

Four different versions of the July COMING SUPER ATTRACTIONS AD, which I count as one ad. Some of the lettering is quite small on these and doesn’t reproduce well in the scans I have. The Lois Lane section is repeated from June in two of these, and partly relettered in another. Some other sections are also repeats, but enough is new to call it a new ad in my estimation. The same lettering appeared in other versions in LOIS LANE and ADVENTURE COMICS.

From WONDER WOMAN #107, July 1959

Another DC title that had been published for years with little attention gets a fine Schnapp full-pager with lots of large, appealing lettering.

There’s just too much in 1959 to cover in one post, so the rest will appear in Part 2. I’ll have 1959 ad totals there.

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

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