Ira Schnapp’s DC Ads: 1967 Part 1

All images © DC Comics. From THE FOX AND THE CROW #101, Dec 1966/Jan 1967

1967 was the final full year of employment at DC Comics for Ira Schnapp. At some point in 1968 his staff job was terminated. I don’t know when that happened, exactly how it happened, or whose decision it was, but Carmine Infantino is likely to be the person who gave Ira the news. Here’s what I wrote in my series of biographical articles about Ira from information I received from those who were there at the time like Neal Adams and Gaspar Saladino:

One of the most popular artists at the company then was Carmine Infantino, known for his excellent work on THE FLASH, among other titles. In 1966, Irwin Donenfeld made him art director, in charge of designing all the company’s covers, and Infantino was later promoted to Editorial Director. One of the changes Carmine enacted was to start putting long-time DC letterer Gaspar Saladino on logos, cover lettering and house ads, shifting that work away from Ira. Apparently Carmine felt the company’s design presence needed a fresh approach, and Gaspar’s work was excellent, as he rose to the challenge with dynamic, energetic and artful lettering and logos. Carmine kept Ira on for a while doing less important tasks, but in 1968 he was let go. As artist Neal Adams, who had befriended Ira when he started working at DC around 1967 put it, it meant Ira was being sent home to die. Gaspar Saladino has described Ira as “Mister DC,” and said it was sad that when he left, it was as though he’d never been there at all.

From these reports, I expected to see less ad work from Ira in 1966 and much less in 1967, keeping in mind that there is always a time shift between cover dates and when the work was done of three to four months. What I found in my research for these articles was that Ira’s ad output about doubled in 1966. Gaspar’s also increased, but to only about a dozen ads. In 1967, Ira’s ad output did decrease by a third, declining from about 120 ads to about 75. Gaspar’s ad output increased from about a dozen to about two dozen, and there were some ads by others in both years. This is significant, but not the dismissal of Ira’s ad skills I was expecting. There are enough Schnapp ads in 1967 to still require two parts, and we’ll look at the numbers at the end of Part 2.

Some changes in 1967: there were no new romance group ads. A few were reused, and otherwise ads for other DC books appeared. The public service ads that were the pet project of editor Jack Schiff tapered off this year with mostly repeats. Only four were new. Ira lettered two of those, including his finest one ever. Jack Schiff retired from DC in 1967 and his admirable project ended, though DC did some similar ads in 1976-77. The Go-Go-Checks push from 1966 was not continued much in house ads, only a few referenced them, and they quietly died out by the end of 1967. Ad emphasis remained on superheroes, though all genres other than romance received some new ones, like the Jerry Lewis ad above. There only the lettering by Ira is new, the art and layout are from past ads.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #352, Jan 1967

Third page ads were by far the most common now, filling in spaces left on most new comics stories on the final page. Some paid ads were used there, but often it was ads like this promoting a particular character, title or issue, as well as some more generic ads that could be reused.

From ACTION COMICS #345, Jan 1967

One of the largest impacts the popular Batman TV show had on the comics was the introduction in them of Barbara Gordon, the new Batgirl. There had been a different Batgirl in the early 1960s, but she was abandoned when Julius Schwartz took over editing the Batman titles in 1964. The new Batgirl was requested by the TV show producers, and introduced in the comics and on the TV show in 1967. Ira gives her a logo in this ad, I don’t know if it was used anywhere else.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #352, Jan 1967

Elsewhere, DC was still floundering, trying desperately to come up with new ideas that would appeal to readers. This was one of the worst, not only a tired concept of a white hero in Africa with all the racist overtones that suggests, but with one of Ira Schnapp’s lamest logos ever. Thankfully the character did not last long.

From ACTION COMICS #345, Jan 1967

This first new public service ad of the year was lettered by Gaspar Saladino. I’m including it for completeness.

From ACTION COMICS #345, Jan 1967

DC continued to promote their 80-Page Giant line, all reprints, as if that was their strong suit. Perhaps it was. The silly text of this ad was probably written by editor Mort Weisinger, though it might be by his assistant Nelson Bridwell.

From AQUAMAN #31, Jan/Feb 1967

Marvel Comics was full of character crossovers, so DC was doing some too. I hope the appearance of the Justice League raised sales of BLACKHAWK, even though the message about that group here is very negative.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #353, Feb 1967

Ira’s display lettering makes this ad work, though the cover is pretty exciting too.

From THE FLASH #167, Feb 1967

Another ad with great display lettering, especially SCARECROW, done in dry-brush style, a rarity from Schnapp.

From ACTION COMICS #346, Feb 1967

War titles did not receive much attention unless it was a Giant reprint issue.

From OUR FIGHTING FORCES #105, Feb 1967

An odd ad, even for Superman, this is way more space and attention the storyline would seem to merit in my opinion.

From ACTION COMICS #346, Feb 1967

This looks like a paid ad, but it’s for DC posters produced and sold by them, with payment going to the DC offices. It’s the first time that happened, as far as I know. Most of these images appeared before in the comics as pinups, some have character “autographs” by Ira. I hope they were printed on better paper than the comics. From the description it sounds like they were, but I’ve never seen one. Influenced by the TV show, as far as content.

From BLACKHAWK #229, Feb 1967

This is kind of a replacement for “Coming Super-Attractions,” but it was only used this once.

From ACTION COMICS #346, Feb 1967

Ira’s second-to-last public service ad was his best, in my opinion, and if Jack Schiff wrote this, one of his as well. I know from experience that it took a lot of time to research and letter all those languages correctly, and the ad is not only beautifully done but timeless.

From METAL MEN #24, Feb/March 1967

A common crossover or team-up story plot begins with a fight between the characters, as here, something Marvel did frequently too.

From THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE #103, Feb/March 1967

Ira always found a way to make his layouts interesting with black shapes and display lettering.

From THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE #103, Feb/March 1967

A more typical DC approach to conflict was to have characters standing around talking on the cover while Ira tries to make that conflict interesting.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #354, March 1967

Two half-page ads (counts as two for Ira). DIAL H seemed an interesting concept, though I never read it. Nelson Bridwell was pushing his creation The Inferior Five with another series of house ads for each character, more below.

From BLACKHAWK #230, March 1967
From JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #52, March 1967
From THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS #99, March/April 1967
From AQUAMAN #32, March/April 1967

Clearly Nelson and Ira, not to mention artists Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito, were giving this promotion their all, and these ads are amusing.

From BLACKHAWK #230, March 1967

Another odd ad, this doesn’t even have any information about what’s coming up in the next issue. Is it an ad, or just a filler?

From ACTION COMICS #348, March 1967

These Giants must have sold well, and were a sure source of profits, as they were all reprints other than the covers.

From AQUAMAN #32, March/April 1967

A new letters page header lettered by Ira. I doubt he did the art, but it’s possible.

From BLACKHAWK #231, April 1967

And this is a header for a page where you could advertise back issues to trade, something I never saw before in a comic, and a great idea for readers when back issues were hard to find.

From ACTION COMICS #349, April 1967

Another Giant, and one that again reprints Carmine Infantino’s pages about how he drew The Flash.

From BLACKHAWK #231, April 1967

Two of the funnier comics from DC are featured in this ad with appealing lettering by Ira.

From BLACKHAWK #231, April 1967

Teen humor with Hamlet? Well, it made for an good title at least.

From STRANGE ADVENTURES #199, April 1967

TOMAHAWK continued to roll along as the sole survivor of its western genre.

From THE FLASH #169, April/May 1967

Another ad urging readers of a Giant to also look for new Flash stories appearing at the same time. Giants were numbered as part of the series they featured, but did not replace the series issue for that month, which was also on the stands.

From THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE #104, April/May 1967

Batman made repeated appearances in team-ups in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD until eventually co-starring in every issue. I like Ira’s arrows.

From THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE #104, April/May 1967

This ad copy misses the mark, I’d say. The only connection to Valentine’s Day is the on-sale date.

From THE FOX AND THE CROW #103, April/May 1967

Editor Mort Weisinger continued to circle back to the same tired ideas in his Superman-related titles. One of my least favorites was baby versions of the characters.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #71, April/May 1967

Ira has fun with stretched words in this ad.

From DETECTIVE COMICS #363, May 1967

Potential death is a common theme in comics, as here. I like that the ad copy refers to the group as The Challs, as their full name is too long.

From ACTION COMICS #350, May 1967

Another series tryout created by Bridwell and Sekowsky, this one reaching for laughs about a music group did not gain its own title. Ira did his best to sell it.

From BLACKHAWK #232, May 1967

In this ad and story, Metamorpho seems to be facing opponents more typical of the Metal Men. Still, intriguing. I would have given this a try if I’d seen it.

From ADVENTURE COMICS #356, May 1967.

Ira Schnapp’s final public service ad lettering appeared on this unusual entry. I don’t think it would have appealed to many kids, so perhaps the series had run its course. Ira certainly did a lot of them.

I’ll continue with the rest of Schnapp’s 1967 ads in Part 2. More articles you might enjoy are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.

Wikipedia on Batgirl.

Wikipedia on editor Jack Schiff.

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