Ira Schnapp is known to have produced beautiful and enticing in-house advertising for DC Comics for many years. These were ads for DC titles that ran across the entire line, and Ira’s work on them in the 1950s to mid 1960s is celebrated and memorable. In my PREVIOUS article on this subject, I had found some Schnapp ads from the late 1940s, the earliest one for SUPERBOY #2, running in July 1949 issues. Today, while researching Ira Schnapp story lettering in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS for an upcoming article, I found quite a few more running back to this one. It appeared in WORLD’S FINEST #28 cover-dated May-June 1947, more than two years earlier than that Superboy ad. There’s no question it’s by Ira, the open lettering at the top in particular is very recognizable from his later covers and house ads. The rest of the lettering shows some elements he rarely did later, such as a W made from two crossed V’s, and other strokes that extend past strokes, as in FAVORITE ACTION TEAM, but it all looks like Schnapp work to me, including that TOMAHAWK logo.
WORLD’S FINEST #29 dated July-Aug. 1947 had this 2/3-page ad with more very familiar Ira Schnapp open lettering, and showing his ability to draw attention with it. I also like the script lettering lower down.
This ad in WORLD’S FINEST #30 dated Sept.-Oct. 1947 is one I’m less sure of. There are some elements that are not at all typical of Ira, particularly the lettering at the bottom. On the other hand, the top banner and the balloon lettering do look like Schnapp work, so perhaps this was a collaborative effort with another letterer, or more likely it’s just Ira trying styles that he later abandoned. The lettering on the cover of REAL FACT COMICS #10 might also be by Ira, I have to look into that another time.
WORLD’S FINEST #31 dated Nov.-Dec. 1947 has this ad by Ira, and I believe the logo is also by him. Again, some of the styles here are familiar Schnapp ones, others are not, so I’m thinking Ira was still finding his way with house ads. Incidentally, Ira lettered most of the stories in A DATE WITH JUDY from the first issue through issue 20, and most of the lead stories through the rest of the run of 79 issues. (I’ve only looked at lead stories beyond issue 20.) It seems no matter what DC title I’ve looked at from the mid 1940s on, there’s Schnapp work in it.
A second ad by Ira also ran in WF #31, and this one exhibits his flare for adding drama, excitement and action to his work…literally! Again, some of the display lettering is not typical of Schnapp’s later work, but much of it is.
WORLD’S FINEST #32 dated Jan.-Feb. 1948 has this Schnapp ad that is specifically for A DATE WITH JUDY #3, and includes boasts about how well the first two issues sold. Most of the company ads up to this time were template ads that could be reused by updating the cover or covers used, but here we see an ad that would only work for a month or two. Clearly DC was making good use of Ira’s talents, and recognizing his selling ability.
WORLD’S FINEST #33 dated March-April 1948 had this Schnapp ad with more explosive impact. Note that on his ads, Ira was designing the entire page, much as he would have done for a movie show card, something he’d produced a lot of in the 1930s. This was a departure for DC house ads, as most previous ones were not generally well designed, more a collection of random elements.
Ira was on a roll with ads for A DATE WITH JUDY, this one specific to issue 5 appeared in WORLD’S FINEST #34 dated May-June 1948. I can only imagine the book was selling well, and management felt Ira’s house ads were helping. Notice how graphic elements really enhance this ad, from the vertical bars in back to the curved shape at lower left. The open lettering at lower right is particularly graceful and appealing.
The next few issues of WORLD’S FINEST have house ads by another person, but #38 dated Jan.-Feb. 1949 has this one by Ira. Notice how the open lettering suggests music notes in places, an idea enhanced by the five lines suggesting music notation swirling through the background.
Finally we come to this specific ad for the first issue of SUPERBOY that ran in WORLD’S FINEST #39 dated March-April 1949. Like the ad for SUPERBOY #2 that begins the previous article on this topic, it’s a graphic delight with great used of negative space and huge exclamation points to add excitement. A winner on all counts!
So, this extend’s Ira’s house ad work back to at least early 1947, and begs the question: did he actually start working on staff then rather than two years later, as had been my previous guess? Sure, this may all have been freelance work, but I have to wonder. There are no records of when Ira started working in the office, but I’ve always tied it to the major increase in his house ad and cover lettering work. Further research is needed, but it’s now looking like that started a few years earlier than I previously realized.
More Ira Schnapp articles to come! Others you might enjoy can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.