Ira Schnapp in STAR SPANGLED COMICS

All images © DC Comics

STAR SPANGLED COMICS began with the first issue cover-dated Oct. 1941 and ran 130 issues, the last dated July 1952. Whitney Ellsworth was the original editor, but at some unknown point it was handed over to Jack Schiff. Early on it starred the Jerry Siegel creation Star-Spangled Kid, and he continued for a long run. Other features came and went until a new lead, Robin (often with Batman making a brief appearance) took over with issue #65 cover-dated Feb. 1947. Later the western character Tomahawk took the lead spot. And, as you can see above, other features like Simon and Kirby’s Guardian and the Newsboy Legion took the cover at times. The cover above for issue #39 dated Dec 1944 is the first one I feel sure is lettered by Ira Schnapp. There are a few earlier ones he might have lettered, but I’m not sure about those, so I’ll begin here. Ira’s cover lettering looked quite different at this early period in his career than it did a few years later, but the story title style, which he also used on house ads and inside story titles, convinces me he did this one.

Issue #40 has a Schnapp caption using a similar style. From this point forward, Ira lettered nearly all the covers.

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Issue #42 has some open lettering in the caption that show the direction Ira’s cover captions were heading, but they’re much bouncier than most of the ones he would do later.

Issue #44 shows Schnapp beginning to use the script style in ANOTHER that he would turn to often. The rest is still uneven and showing gaps in the letters, a style he would soon abandon.

The large open lettering on issue #47 is one of the best early cover lettering efforts by Schnapp.

The story title on issue #52 is another one that Schnapp used often in the 1940s but moved away from later.

Issue #57 has a word balloon from Ira that’s more in the style of his story lettering than what he would do later on covers.

Issue 61, Oct. 1946, has a handsome sign by Schnapp.

With the introduction of Robin in issue #65, we see Ira’s cover lettering beginning to settle into more regular and even styles.

Ira also designed this new Robin logo that would appear on all his stories in the series.

While Schnapp continued to do more loose and bouncy cover lettering for humor titles and stories, for superhero ones his lettering became more reserved and classy. I love this banner using several styles that all work well together.

Issue #77 from 1948 gives Ira a chance to use some of the Old English style he liked in the story title.

More Old English and handsome script on this cover from Dec 1948.

Issue #92 from 1949 is full of great Schnapp lettering. He has now mastered cover lettering and would soon be doing it on nearly every DC cover.

I see Ira Schnapp lettering on the covers of the following issues: 39-40, 42-49, 52-93, 95-96, 98 to 120, 122 to 127 and 129-130. That’s 85 covers in all.

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Moving on to interior story page lettering, I first see Ira’s work appearing on the Newsboy Legion feature credited to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, but actually by others at this point. The lettering for the story in issue #40 seems at first glance to be by someone other than Schnapp, but it’s possible that Ira was using a slightly different style and a wedge-tipped pen at the time, so this might be by him.

Looking at another page of the story, this is pretty close to what Schnapp was doing on other contemporary stories except for the use of a wedge-tipped pen. The letter shapes and the question mark are right. And if this IS by Ira, he might also have lettered a few earlier stories, transitioning gradually to this familiar style. I can’t be sure about those, but I’m calling this one for Schnapp.

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The Newsboy Legion story in issue #41 dated Feb. 1945 is much closer to Ira’s later style, and more convincingly his.

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Ira was using wider letters at the time, and this is a bit uneven, but I do think it’s by Schnapp. From this point forward, Ira lettered one or more stories in almost every issue of STAR SPANGLED through the rest of the series.

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Another example from The Newsboy Legion story in issue #45. This is classic 1940s Schnapp story lettering, and a little narrower than the example above. The question mark here does not match his usual style, but he did vary them somewhat.

Liberty Belle from issue #46 has very different balloon shapes, but they’re probably added by the artist. The lettering on this one seems to be by Ira.

The Newsboy Legion story from issue #49 of 1945 goes with wider lettering again. I think at this time Schnapp did that when he had room, but moved away from it a few years later.

In issue #53, Schnapp lettered the Star-Spangled Kid story for the first time.

When Robin began appearing regularly in issue #65, Ira lettered most of his stories for some time. The title on this one uses familiar Schnapp open script, and his Robin logo is given prominence.

Another page from the story shows Ira’s talent for fitting in a lot of lettering where he needed to.

In issue #69 Ira lettered the Star-Spangled Kid story, and used some large squared display lettering.

Tomahawk had begun a few issues before this story in issue #72, this is the first one lettered by Schnapp.

Story title on this one from issue #76 is another style that Ira was using in the 1940s but moved away from later.

Robotman had been a regular feature for some time in Star-Spangled, with art and lettering by Jimmy Thompson. In issue #82 the feature was lettered by Ira Schnapp for the first time. It was the last appearance of the character in this book.

Artist Jimmy Thomposon moved to this new feature with issue #83 lettered by Ira.

In issue #87, Merry, the Girl of a Thousand Gimmicks took over the Star-Spangled Kid strip, with lettering and logo by Ira.

By issue #92 dated May 1949, nearly all of Ira’s story lettering used this narrower style where most letters would fit into a square.

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By issue #123 dated Dec. 1951, STAR-SPANGLED was floundering, trying to recapture an audience with things like the supernatural series The Ghost Breaker. Schnapp lettered this and one other, and his lettering here is uncharacteristically shaky and uneven, perhaps due to being rushed or over-tired. I can certainly understand the latter! Ira’s last story lettering appeared in the penultimate issue #129 on Captain Compass.

Below are all the stories I believe are lettered by Ira Schnapp. Feature names are abbreviated after the first appearance.

#40 Jan 1945: Newsboy Legion 11pp

#41 Feb 1945: NL 10pp

#42 March 1945: NL 10pp

#45 June 1945: NL 10pp

#46 July 1945: NL 10pp, Liberty Belle 10pp

#47 Aug 1945: NL 10pp

#48 Sept 1945: NL 10pp

#49 Oct 1945: NL 10pp, LB 10pp

#53 Feb 1946: NL 10pp, LB 10pp, Star-Spangled Kid 9pp

#54 March 1946: NL 10pp, SSK 9pp, LB 10pp

#55 April 1946: NL 10pp, SSK 9pp, LB 10pp

#56 May 1946: SSK 9pp, LB 10pp

#57 June 1946: SSK 8pp, LB 10pp

#58 July 1946: SSK 8pp, LB 10pp

#59 Aug 1946: NL 10pp, SSK 9pp

#60 Sept 1946: NL 10pp, SSK 8pp

#61 Oct 1946: SSK 8pp

#62 Nov 1946: SSK 8pp

#63 Dec 1946: NL 10pp, SSK 8pp

#64 Jan 1947: NL 10pp, SSK 8pp

#65 Feb 1947: Robin 10pp, SSK 7pp

#66 March 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp

#67 April 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 8pp

#68 May 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 6pp

#69 June 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp

#70 July 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 8pp

#71 Aug 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp

#72 Sept 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tomahawk 10pp

#73 Oct 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#74 Nov 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#75 Dec 1947: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 9pp

#76 Jan 1948: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 8pp

#77 Feb 1948: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#78 March 1948: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#79 April 1948: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#80 May 1948:Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#81 June 1948: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#82 July 1948: Rob 10pp, Robotman 6pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#83 Aug 1948: Rob 10pp, SSK 7pp, Captain Compass 10pp, Tom 10pp

#84 Sept 1948: CC 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#85 Oct 1948: Rob 10pp, CC 10pp, SSK 7pp, Tom 10pp

#86 Nov 1948: Rob 10pp, CC 10pp, SSK 6pp, Tom 7pp

#87 Dec 1948: Rob 10pp, CC 10pp, Merry 7pp

#88 Jan 1949: Rob 10pp, CC 10pp, Merry 7pp

#89 Feb 1949: Rob 10pp, CC 10pp, Merry 7pp

#90 March 1949: Rob 10pp, CC 10pp, Merry 6pp, A Perfect Crime Mystery 4pp, Tom 10pp

#91 April 1949: Rob 12pp, CC 8pp, APCM 4pp, Tom 10pp

#92 May 1949: Rob 12pp, CC 10pp, Tom 10pp

#93 June 1949: Rob 12 pp, Tom 10 pp

#94 July 1949: Rob 12 pp

#95 Aug 1949: Rob 12 pp, CC 9 pp

#96 Sept 1949: Rob 12 pp, CC 8 pp, Dover & Clover 4 pp

#97 Oct 1949: Rob 12 pp, CC 8 pp

#98 Nov 1949: Rob 12 pp, CC 8 pp

#99 Dec 1949: Rob 12 pp

#100 Jan 1950: Rob 12pp

#101 Feb 1950: Rob 10 pp

#102 March 1950: Rob 10pp

#103 4/50: CC 8 pp, Robin 10 pp

#108 Sept 1950: Rob 10 pp

#109 Oct 1950: Rob 10pp

#110 Nov 1950: Rob 10pp

#112 Jan 1951: CC 8 pp

#113 Feb 1951: CC 8 pp, Rob 10 pp

#114 March 1951: Rob 10 pp

#115 April 1951: Rob 10pp

#117 June 1951: Robin 10 pp

#118 July 1951: Robin 10pp

#119 Aug 1951: Robin 10pp

#120 Sept 1951: Robin 10pp

#121 Oct 1951: Robin 10pp

#122 Nov 1951: Robin 8 pp

#123 Dec 1951: Ghost-Breaker 8 pp, Robin 8 pp

#124 Jan 1952: Ghost-Breaker 8 pp

#129 June 1952: Captain Comet 6 pp

If I’ve added correctly, that’s 1,404 pages lettered for this title, lots of work!

Other articles about Ira Schnapp and his work can be found on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

Star Spangled Comics on Wikipedia.

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