Logo Study: DC Comics Cover Logos 1939-1949 Part 3

All images © DC Comics

In 1947 National Comics started a new licensed title that was a teen humor book based on a popular radio show. The logo style definitely says “humor,” and the word JUDY is large and well-designed. A DATE WITH is not so good, having uneven shapes and strokes, but maybe that was intentional, to make it more fun and jazzy.


With issue 4, A DATE WITH became much larger and more important, and is redrawn. I think this logo and cover lettering is by Ira Schnapp using the bouncier style he employed for humor titles. It’s rather different from what he would do later, but convincly his work to me.


The other new title for 1947 was GANG BUSTERS, as DC dipped a toe in the lucrative but often denigrated crime comics genre. An Ira Schnapp design I believe, with some Art Deco elements. The thinnest areas are too thin, but it still reads fine.


Early 1948 brought another new crime comic with a logo that was also designed by Ira Schnapp. Super-hero comics sales were declining, and National Comics was looking for entry into other genres that might give their sales a boost. This logo has the same too-thin center bar of the E as the one above, but overall is solid and appealing.


Another new genre for National, the western, was the topic of this title, also looking very much like it was designed by Ira Schnapp using a rough, notched style for WESTERN that works well for the genre. COMICS in an Art Deco style is picked up from previous titles.


National also converted the long-running ALL-AMERICAN COMICS to ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN with a logo by Ira Schnapp. The banner border is oddly thick, but the look of WESTERN is professional, regular and appealing, even if it doesn’t have much of a western flavor. Note that Ira used a double outline to help it read better against cover art. The style of ALL AMERICAN is from the previous logo for a small amount of continuity, though I imagine kids looking for the super-hero comic would have been puzzled by this anyway.


Roy Rogers comics were already being published by Dell, so National licensed a series featuring Roy’s movie sweetheart, Dale Evans with a logo I by Ira Schnapp. The remaining issues had the word EVANS to the right of DALE, but here they were stacked to leave room for the horse’s head. That text at the top is classic Ira Schnapp cover lettering, and around this time he seemed to be doing most of that.


Also in 1948, National began this new teen humor book with a logo by Schnapp. It has a nice combination of wide well-formed letters that read well and also have a humorous bounce. The shape of the Y is unusual, like an upside-down H, but it works fine for me.


I’ve already shown 1948’s SCRIBBLY by Sheldon Mayer, but I’ll put it here again so you can compare the style with BINKY. Mayer’s letters are less consistent, the strokes uneven, but he manages to make it very appealing all the same. His Y is more cartoon standard, too.


By 1949 Ira Schnapp had become the regular logo designer for the company. He was also producing elaborate “house ads” promoting new titles and continuing titles that ran in all the comics. By 1950, most ofl that work was by Ira, and continued to be until Gaspar Saladino began getting some of it around 1967, and took over most or all of it when Ira left the company in 1968. Ira Schnapp, through his somewhat old-fashioned but very professional and distinctive style, leaning heavily on the Art Deco and classic show-card alphabets that were his favorites, created a company look for National or “DC” comics that appealed to kids, and helped sell new titles through their familiar trade dress. THE ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD looks like his work to me, using show-card styles, and more follow.


THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, another radio show license, is one of the open script styles that Ira Schnapp used through the rest of his time at DC. This example is uneven in spots, and could have been crafted more carefully, but it’s pure Schnapp.


A similar script style was used for the movie cowboy licensed title JIMMY WAKELY, one I think meant to represent the man’s signature. Not terribly appropriate for a western comic, but well done.


Now here’s a western comic logo with real artistic skill in evidence, and I think it’s by Ira Schnapp, this time working very carefully to create convincing and well-shaped letters from rope and logs. Rather old-fashioned, in fact this kind of log lettering looks back to Victorian times really, but you have to admire the craftstmanship. Getting rope to work as letters and still look like rope is not small task, either. And a heart to emphasize the cross-genre combination of romance and western comics, the idea of editor Julie Schwartz for this title, which didn’t last long.


A new funny animal title with a very rounded logo by Schnapp. Notice the thinner central arm of each E, for instance, and the generally even and consistent rows of letters. The drop shadow helps it read well and pop off the cover.


MISS BEVERLY HILLS OF HOLLYWOOD was a short-lived attempt to attract female readers, and the logo is by Ira Schnapp. That graceful curve of BEVERLY HILLS allows room for the other words to fit in without taking up too much vertical space, a technique Ira used on other long logos, and this one is very long. The Art Deco style Ira loved is perfect to suggest movie star elegance.


Speaking of female readers, DC was also getting into the romance comic genre created a few years earlier by Simon and Kirby, and very popular. Ira Schnapp designed this logo. The thin letters are not something he did as a rule, but on the other hand it has lots of style and graceful curves that fit well with Ira’s skills. Perhaps the approach was meant to look like a more adult romance magazine.


The other new romance title of 1949 has a logo that looks more typical of Ira Schnapp to me, and the black shading on the letters give it a touch of elegance that I find appealing. Sorry for the poor quality of the images on these last two, the best I could find. Note that both romance logos use larger first letters on each word, something Ira liked to do, as evidenced by many of the logos here.


We’ll finish off this logo study with the first new super-hero title from DC in several years, and a logo I’m sure is by Ira. This is a scan of the original logo from DC’s files. The graceful arc, the Art Deco style, the deep drop shadow that makes it read well and pop off the surface are all the work of one of DC’s longest-running and most important designers and letterers.

Here’s how it looked on the first cover, accompanied by Ira Schnapp’s word balloons, and in color for a change. I find it easier to study the logo designs themselves without color, but of course, color is part of the appeal of comics. Ira Schnapp, now firmly ensconced as the company’s staff logo and cover lettering man would continue his long, successful reign in that position, and kids like me soon learned his style was a signal for entertaining comics.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this logo study. Other articles you might like can be found on the COMICS CREATION and LOGO LINKS pages of my blog, including several about Ira Schnapp.

5 thoughts on “Logo Study: DC Comics Cover Logos 1939-1949 Part 3

  1. Dave Hunt

    Do you remember how thrilled I was when you showed me the actual original Superboy logo up at the office? I loved that book as a kid and it was amazing to hold that little piece of history in my hands.

  2. Martin Gray

    Thanks for a madly ambitious three-parter. That Romance Trail logo is fascinating, and how nice that you end on possibly my all-time favourite logo … why DC dumped that Superboy logo I’ll never know, it’s so classic – hugely appealing.

  3. Jim Kosmicki

    The Ozzie and Harriet book was almost assuredly an adaptation of the radio show that pre-dated the TV show. Looking at the covers on the GCD, to the left of the logo you show it says something about America’s favorite radio family. The TV show was on for something like 15 years, but it didn’t start until about 1952.

    as always, love these logo studies. What intrigues me more than anything else is how slow the DC editorial team was to try new titles at this time. They really were the opposite of Martin Goodman, weren’t they?

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