This was Ira’s final year at DC Comics, and his ad output was much reduced. New policies from Editorial Director Carmine Infantino, including the shift of house ad and cover lettering from Ira to Gaspar Saladino, are now in evidence, and their places were essentially switched, with Ira doing just 21 new ads, and Gaspar creating about 65, with another 25 coming from Henry Boltinoff and various unidentified DC production artists. Ira’s final ad ran in a December 1968 title, and it was probably created in August, or even earlier. I have no evidence, but I think Ira left staff and retired in either July or August. DC was definitely changing from the place he had worked so many years as new blood was brought in: artist Joe Kubert became editor of the war titles, and new editor/artists Joe Orlando and Dick Giordano joined the staff. Artist Neal Adams had begun working for DC in 1967, and by 1968 was gaining new fans for the company and inside the company with his excellent art that added previously unseen levels of realism, dynamic layouts, and in-your-face action to the mix. Steve Ditko launched new properties The Creeper and Hawk and Dove, and other projects that would probably not have been okayed in the past were being tried out like Angel and the Ape, Anthro, Enemy Ace, Bat Lash and more. DC comics in general were gaining a fresh look enhanced by the dynamic work of Saladino, beside which Ira’s lettering often did look old fashioned. The ad above that Ira lettered is prescient: new things were coming, and they would not include him. Ira turned 73 in October 1967. His time in comics was almost over, but these ads show his skills were still present, if showing their age.
To me this ad suggests that Ira was now looking at the lettering of Gaspar Saladino for ideas. Having just a small amount of ad copy gave him room to go big, as Gaspar often did, and the roughened treatment of MENACE has a Gaspar feel.
The second issue of TEEN BEAT had to be renamed TEEN BEAM. Apparently no one at DC knew there was another Teen Beat magazine hitting the stands just before theirs. This is Ira’s idea of lettering with teen appeal, and it’s not bad, but Gaspar did it better.
Here we see a very old school ad with lots of text. Ira does his best with it, but it seems stodgy compared to what Saladino was doing, though often with much less text, example below from the same issue.
Gaspar had been lettering at DC since fall 1949, but he was 33 years younger than Schnapp. He’d been filling in for Ira on covers, ads and stories for years when Ira wasn’t available, and now that he had the chance to shine, he grabbed it, and who could blame him?
Ira did a last one of these paid ads that I think were all for the same vendor, as they have similar mailing addresses. Handsome work. The next one was lettered by Gaspar.
This ad in the form of a quiz I think epitomizes everything that was wrong with DC’s attempt to engage teenagers. It’s talking down, it’s throwing lots of slang that’s either outdated or overdone, and it reeks of old folks who are sure they know how kids think.
Ira’s lettering on this Teen Titans cover was one of his best efforts in the last year he was on staff, and this ad for it is pretty good too, though hard to read in places.
Gaspar also did an ad for the issue. Each has its strengths, but I find Gaspar’s has more energy and perhaps teen appeal.
Another quiz ad that’s a little less obnoxious, and I love the title lettering by Ira.
Here’s the dullest DC ad ever, a boring list of numbers. If this was editor Julius Schwartz’ idea, it was one of his worst, but Ira soldiered through it.
A very silly cover deserves a somewhat silly ad, and this is one. I like Ira’s work on it, though.
There was a time when Ira’s design touches like flaming letters were fresh. Now this ad also seems old-fashioned.
Again we see DC looking to the past for ideas, and Ira’s lettering simply reinforces that.
In this case looking to the past was not a bad idea. DC war titles had not made much use of World War One as a topic, and Enemy Ace was also a fresh idea because it made the enemy the main character. It’s sobering to realize that Ira himself lived through this war, and was 24 years old in 1918.
Here’s what Ira came up with as a teaser for this new series.
Gaspar’s version is much better, though admittedly he had more room and I think art from Bob Oksner.
This third-page ad for Enemy Ace is not as good as Ira’s full-page one.
The one area where I think Ira’s styles still worked well are on ads for romance books, and this ad for them that appeared in LOIS LANE marks the end of a very long separation between DC’s romance line and their other titles.
As you can see, editor Mort Weisinger’s ad and story ideas had not changed much. It would take a few more years for Superman to get a new approach.
At the very end of his DC time, Ira was asked to do these three full-page romance ads, and they are full of great work. He always did seem to do his best in this area.
Ira’s last house ad, at least the last to appear, was this one, a clever teaser for a one issue tryout in SHOWCASE. It was the end of an era.
So, 20 new house ads for Ira and one paid ad for a total of 21 in 1968. Everyone’s story must reach an end some time, and Ira’s did in July of 1969 when he died suddenly at home of a heart attack at age 74. His passing went unmarked by DC, which since he was never credited for his work is not surprising, but it is sad.
This is not the end of my Schnapp research, though. I have another area to explore and catalog, DC’s newspaper strips. A new series of posts will begin on that topic soon.
Other articles you might enjoy are on the Comics Creation page of my blog.
A series of articles on my blog about Ira Schnapp’s life and work begins HERE.
Ira Schnapp on Wikipedia.