Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1960 Part 1

All images © DC Comics. From SUPERMAN #134, Jan 1960

The work of letterer Ira Schnapp on DC house ads continued at the increased rate of 1959 in 1960, so I will once again break the year into two posts. The “Coming Super-Attractions” third-page ads brought lots of work for him in all twelve months, and there were plenty of full page ads as well as other smaller ones through the year. There were three repeated public service ads from past years, but Ira lettered all nine of the new ones. It seems that Schnapp’s role setting the style for the entire company in logos, covers and house ads, not to mention tons of page lettering, should have merited some kind of credit somewhere, but as always, there was none. Ira is reported to have been a very modest man, so perhaps that was fine with him, I don’t know. Editors seemed to have permission to commission ads at will for upcoming and current issues, like the one above requested by editor Mort Weisinger for a single issue of SUPERMAN, and used nowhere else that I could find. Room for smaller third of a page ads was now routinely being left on the final page of many stories.

From LOIS LANE #14, Jan 1960
From SUPERBOY #78, Jan 1960

Here are the COMING SUPER-ATTRACTIONS ads from January cover-dates with all the different new blurbs I could find, though it’s always possible I missed one. The frame and top line are repeated from 1959, and there are four new blurbs (Superman is a repeat from Dec 1959). I’m still counting this as one new ad, as the new blurbs seem like that much work to me. I will do the same for all similar ads this year.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #275, Jan 1960

All genres at DC got some attention in house ads in 1960, though westerns probably got the least, with only this issue of TOMAHAWK getting solo billing.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #94, Jan 1960
From BATMAN #129, Feb 1960
From BATMAN #130, March 1960

Here’s an example of one way a third-page ad could be used several times with only partial changes in the lettering. The changes were still work for Ira, and later, as we’ll see, ads that needed no lettering changes were used more often. I’m counting these as just one ad.

From ACTION COMICS #261, Feb 1960
From ADVENTURE COMICS #269

Here are the four new blurbs I could find for the February COMING SUPER-ATTRACTIONS, but note also that Ira has created a new frame and title lettering. All or nearly all the books featured were edited by Mort Weisinger in these, so he probably wrote the copy, which had to be very small in places to fit.

From BATMAN #129, Feb 1960

Schnapp had a much better chance to use his design and lettering skills on full page ads like this one promoting the first appearance of the Justice League in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28. This was again the idea of editor Julius Schwartz, and he and DC clearly thought it was a great idea. They promoted it well, and Ira did a fine job on his end with a new variation on his logo and lots of other fine lettering. What DC reader of their super-hero titles wouldn’t want to read this? I sure did!

From BATMAN #129, Feb 1960

The first new public service ad of 1960 gets back to the roots of the series with Superboy selling the idea of helping others.

From BATMAN #129, Feb 1960

Batman stories were getting very silly and weird, but Ira’s job was to make those ideas intriguing to readers, and he does it well here with dramatic lettering and design.

From BATMAN #130, March 1960

Another one. I loved Bat-mite as a reader, but this promo would have sold me on him if I didn’t already.

From ACTION COMICS #262, March 1960
From ADVENTURE COMICS #270, March 1960

Four new blurbs found in March cover dates. I have to wonder if there were more that were never used on some of these, or perhaps I just didn’t find them.

From OUR ARMY AT WAR #92, March 1960

Over in Robert Kanigher’s war titles, ads mainly promoted other war titles, though there were also a few super-hero ones. Here Ira uses non-typical upper and lower case lettering in Rock’s balloon, perhaps to fit in all the words.

From ACTION COMICS #263, April 1960
From ADVENTURE COMICS #271, April 1960

Four new blurbs found for April cover dates. Note that some of the scans I have are better than others.

From BATMAN #131, April 1960

This third-page ad is generic enough to repeat with later covers, and that was done several times in 1960. Ira’s lettering was bold enough to read well when reversed, white letters on black, something that was done with photostats in the DC production department, Ira didn’t letter with white ink.

From ACTION COMICS #263, April 1960

This PSA welcoming Hawaii as our fiftieth state is a nice companion to the one from the previous year welcoming Alaska. Interesting to see a young Daniel Inouye here, he was a U.S. Congressman from 1959 to his death in 2012.

From BATMAN #131, April 1960

This ad from 1959 was reused with a different cover and new lettering from “Age of Sorcery” down. I’m counting it as a new ad based on the amount of new work.

From ACTION COMICS #264, May 1960
From ADVENTURE COMICS #272, May 1960
From LOIS LANE #17, May 1960

Five new blurbs found in May cover dated issues.

From ACTION COMICS #264, May 1960

I’m not seeing as many public service ads used on inside covers in 1960, as those were now usually paid ads, but there were a few like this one. Gray tones had to be added.

From ACTION COMICS #265, June 1960
From ADVENTURE COMICS #273, June 1960

Here’s a different approach in these ads, using actual cover images with just a few small additions by Ira on the first two. Is there enough new lettering on these to count it as another new ad? I say yes.

From JIMMY OLSEN #45, June 1960

DC gave this new Hollywood humor title lots of promotion across their entire line, even in the romance titles, a rare thing up to now, but you can see how that might have worked well. There was another version with the same lettering but using the second issue cover. I assume the beatnik slang is from the Maynard G. Krebs character in the show, already probably out of date by the time the book and the ad saw print. I love Ira’s lettering of it, though.

From ACTION COMICS #265, June 1960

Many of the PSAs now showed unknown kids trying to help other unknown kids. An effective sentiment here, but perhaps less interesting to readers.

From ACTION COMICS #265, June 1960

Another fine full-pager from Ira with effective use of black areas and attractive lettering. DC celebrates the success of SHOWCASE by making THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD a second tryout book. The ad is generic enough to use again with newer covers.

I will continue this in Part 2 with ads from July to Dec cover dates, and give ad totals for the year at the end of that post. Other articles like this are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

A full list of DC’s public service ads on Mike’s Amazing World of Comics.

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