Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1966 Part 3

All images © DC Comics. From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #160, July/Aug 1966

In this third and concluding article on Schnapp’s DC ads from 1966, we begin with this nice full page ad that shows how the Batman TV show that began a few months earlier and was a sensational hit with viewers was influencing the comics. When Julius Schwartz took over the Batman titles in 1964 he ushered in more realistic art and stories, but that effort was somewhat derailed by the campy humor of the TV show. DC management may have pushed him to reflect the show in his comics, or it may have simply been his decision. In either case, the art and text of this ad are a good example of trying to find a middle ground between the Schwartz Batman and Robin and the TV ones. The art is still realistic, but the large sound effect and language are like the show.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #160, July/Aug 1966

These Riddler ads were even more like the TV show, and rather lame.

From AQUAMAN #28, July/Aug 1966

In fact, rather than promoting the comics in them, these ads were closer to laughing at the characters, as the TV show did. Not a great idea in my book.

From HOUSE OF SECRETS #79, July/Aug 1966

The Superman-related titles did not reflect the Batman TV show much, but they were already full of pretty silly ideas as seen in this ad. How DC expected this sort of thing to compete with Marvel’s comics of the same era is beyond me.

From ACTION COMICS #340, Aug 1966

In this ad similar to the Go-Go-Checks ones, DC is, in my opinion, even talking down to their readers, never a good idea. I’m sure they didn’t see it that way, but that’s how it seemed to me at the time. I was much more drawn to Stan Lee’s approach, which was inviting, actually funny, and made me feel part of the gang creating the comics, a true believer.

From BATMAN #183, Aug 1966

A third-page version of an ad shown in Part 2 of this article, but with all new lettering by Schnapp.

From ACTION COMICS #340, Aug 1966

80-Page Giants full of reprints seemed to be where DC was putting much of their focus, as if their current offerings were not as good as the old stuff. Perhaps that was right, at least at this time. Nice upper and lower case work by Ira here.

From BLACKHAWK #223, Aug 1966

Another of these generic third-page ads. Only the top center lettering is new, but it was used often, so I will call it another ad by Ira.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #347, Aug 1966

This public service ad lettered by Schnapp has a good message, but probably one many kids were not going to believe much longer in 1966.

From BLACKHAWK #223, Aug 1966

Editor Mort Weisinger’s ideas, or those of his writers, seemed to keep circling back to the same material over and over rather than breaking any new ground. Ira did his best to make it exciting.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #347, Aug 1966

TOMAHAWK, DC’s last western-themed comic was grabbing for any ideas that might draw readers, including ones from war, mystery and even superhero titles with Miss Liberty.

From HAWKMAN #15, Aug/Sept 1966

Writer Robert Kanigher had a good idea for this issue of METAL MEN, pitting them against living plastic opponents.

From THE ATOM #26, Aug/Sept 1966

When Batman’s adventures were taken more seriously, they work better for me, as here.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #161, Sept 1966

Filling ads with defeatist language does not seem like the way to draw in readers to me, but I could be wrong.

From ACTION COMICS #341, Sept 1966

More defeatism, and naming a villain Villo seems to signal a lack of ideas to me. Sorry to be so negative here, but DC seems to be floundering.

From BLACKHAWK #224, Sept 1966

I like the ideas in this ad better, but they don’t suggest Batman and Robin as very capable heroes, and the telephone hot-line seems right out of the TV show.

From GREEN LANTERN #47, Sept 1966

Finally a threat epic enough to be worthy of the Justice League, and there’s Batman up front taking it on heroically. I like Ira’s black burst here suggesting an anti-matter explosion.

From HOUSE OF MYSTERY #161, Sept 1966

Jimmy Olsen as a powerful prize fighter? Okay, that’s more interesting than many of his past roles.

From ACTION COMICS #341, Sept 1966

More stories from the past suggesting Lois Lane’s main interest is romance and matrimony. Fine lettering and design, though.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #348, Sept 1966

Yes, old people might have some interesting ideas, kids. Are you hip?

From BLACKHAWK #224, Sept 1966

The Teen Titans seem to be taking on a character inspired by Marvel’s Spider-Man and Ant-Man perhaps. This is at least intriguing.

From BLACKHAWK #224, Sept 1966

Now we’re back in the influence of the Batman TV show with this ad’s “Holy Horoscope!” I love Ira’s treatment of the word DANGER in stars.

From BLACKHAWK #225, Oct 1966

Schnapp’s elaborate crown design here is as good as his display lettering.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #349, Oct 1966

This ad signals some interesting developments due to the TV show, a new comic strip and a film compiling several episodes of the TV show. Sadly, this interest was a fad that would soon pass once the show was off the air. By the way, the large, colorful sound effects used in the TV show and imitated here by Ira were reportedly drawn by DC production staffer and letterer Joe Letterese.

From ACTION COMICS #342, Oct 1966

Two half page ads probably created together by Ira but also used separately, and counting as two ads for him. Less words meant more room for appealing design and display lettering.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #356, Oct 1966

DC turns to the wedding option for Flash in this subtle and beautifully lettered third-page ad by Ira. I find it more effective for its quiet approach. I bet Ira had done a few real-life wedding invitations in his time, too.

From BLACKHAWK #225, Oct 1966

An effective ad and an intriguing storyline.

From ACTION COMICS #342, Oct 1966

Perhaps one of DC’s best moves of 1966 was bringing back the Quality Comics character Plastic Man. His return was prompted by a potential movie that never happened, but he was a welcome addition to the DC roster, even though they already had at least two stretchy characters in Elongated Man and Jimmy Olsen’s Elastic Lad. Plas was the original, and still entertaining. Great ad by Ira.

From FALLING IN LOVE #86, Oct 1966

DC was still pushing Scooter in their romance titles. I wonder if any of those music groups ever saw this appealing ad? Still some lame language, but better than most of his ads.

From STAR-SPANGLED WAR STORIES #129, Oct/Nov 1966

Over in ADVENTURE COMICS, the Legion of Super-Heroes was quietly building a devoted fan base that would keep them going for decades, even though they received little promotion.

From THE ATOM #27, Sept/Oct 1966

The effectiveness of this ad is marred by the color choice for the burst, making it a bit hard to read.

From CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #52, Oct/Nov 1966

Here’s an intriguing story idea from writer Robert Kanigher! I haven’t read it, but I would have wanted to after reading this ad. Love the faux newspaper work by Ira.

From BLACKHAWK #227, Dec 1966

The use of acronyms for villainous groups may have been popularized by James Bond, and was quickly adapted by TV shows like “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Marvel followed the trend, as did DC.

From ACTION COMICS #344, Dec 1966

Still pushing those old stories in the Giants, this ad has one of Ira’s largest arrows.

From BLACKHAWK #227, Dec 1966

Here’s a clever idea that could only work in comics. What ever happened to The Eraser, I wonder?

From SECRET HEARTS #116, Dec 1966

Scooter really goes off the edge with this storyline. I can’t see many romance comic readers wanting to buy it, despite all the great lettering by Ira.

From GIRLS’ ROMANCES #121, Dec 1966

A smaller version with all new lettering by Schnapp.

From GREEN LANTERN #49, Dec 1966

DC sure kept Ira busy in 1966 with so many ads for individual issues, and there were more I’m not showing by Gaspar Saladino and others.

From JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #48, Dec 1966

This ad is from an 80-Page Giant issue of JLA prompting readers to look for another issue on sale at the same time with new material.

From ACTION COMICS #344, Dec 1966

The final ad by Ira in 1966 has me asking, did he draw that large hand and arm? I don’t know the answer.

To sum up this incredibly busy year, I found 113 house ads, three public service ads and one paid ad by Schnapp for a total of 117, plus eight headers for letters pages and text pages. Truly an amazing amount of work, about double his ad output in the previous year. It will be interesting to see what happens in 1967, Ira’s last full year on staff at DC, and one in which Ira’s star was falling and Gaspar Saladino’s was on the rise.

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

One thought on “Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1966 Part 3

  1. David Goldfarb

    Interesting that the Challengers of the Unknown were fighting “Villo” only a few months before the Legion fought “Evillo”. I wonder which of the two would win in a duel?

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