DIAL B for BLOG
NEW ISSUE ARCHIVES BOARD FAQ LINKS CONTACT ADVERTISE
.
.
THE VISIONARY - PART 10 of 10

The BIG FALL!
Hello reader! It seems everyone has been enjoying our ten-part series on super DC designer Ira Schnapp, and today, October 10, 2006, the series conclusion -- is Ira's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IRA SCHNAPP! We'll get Schnapp's birthday party going with a few of his dazzling DC house ads from 1967, all hand lettered by the master, most of them advertising comic books Schnapp also created logos for -- starting with the notorious Showcase debut of jungle master B'wana Beast! Across the jungle rings the cry...
SHOWCA SE #66 - JANUARY 1967
.

BATMAN #180 - FEBRUARY 1967

Halloween treat: Here's an Ira Schnapp ad in black and white, as it was presented
in the hard-cover reprint volume "Batman From the 30s to the 70s."


.

AQUAMAN - MARCH 1967

.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY - MARCH 1967

.

LOIS LANE #73 - APRIL 1967
.
METAMORPHO - MAY 1967

.


INFERIOR FIVE #2 (MAY 1967)
IRA SCHNAPP'S ONLY LETTERING CREDIT BY NAME!
.
.Ira Schnapp worked for DC Comics from 1938 to 1968, creating zillions of logos and lettering countless covers and interiors -- yet as far as I know, this almost-microscopic byline from Inferior Five #6 (splash page pictured above, enlarged credit shown right) is the ONLY in-print credit Ira Schnapp ever received! (Many thanks to comic historian and DIAL B for BLOG reader Mike Tiefenbacher for pointing this one out.)

This oversight may seem absurd, but there is a reason for it: Most of Schnapp's work was done on front covers, and "mere" cover letterers (or interior letterers, for that matter) were never credited in the era in which Schnapp worked!

BRAVE AND BOLD #73 - AUGUST 1967

.


HOUSE OF MYSTERY #170 - OCTOBER 1967
.
WORLD'S FINEST - NOVEMBER 1967
.

INFERIOR FIVE #6 (JANUARY 1968)
This superhero parody team's sixth issue featured a fanciful tour of DC's
offices and pictured many DC staffers along the way, including Ira Schnapp.
There he is in panel four, portrayed as a monk lettering comic "manuscripts."
Schnapp must have had a good sense of humor -- he lettered this story himself!

.

IRA SCHNAPP
IN THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART?!?!
.
How's this for an artistic nightmare: After designing millions of immortal logos, trillions of fantastic ads, and zillions of bombastic blurbs -- a bastardized tracing of the most mundane thing you ever did is chosen to be displayed in one of the greatest art galleries in the entire world. Impossible? No! It happened to our man Ira.
.

Pictured left is the cover of Secret Hearts #83 (November 1962). Shown right is the splash page from a story in this issue called "Run For Love!"

I don't know who wrote or drew this story
(anyone know?), but it's obvious from the distinctive style of type used for the story's title that it was lettered by Ira Schnapp. (Most of Schnapp's interior lettering was done for DC's romance line of comics.)

Roy Lichtenstein, a sixties artist who used comic book panels as the basis for pop art paintings, used this page as the basis of a painting he called "I Don't Care!" He reworked the art and dialogue slightly, relettered Schnapp's original word balloon, and signed his name. Another way of saying this would be: Roy Lichtenstein shamelessly ripped off the work of comic book artists whom he never credited and had the unmitigated gall to call the work his own... and he got away with it. Whatever the case may be, below is "I Don't Care!" -- a work displayed in New York's Museum of Modern Art.
.
Above: "I Don't Care!" by Roy Lichtenstein
Oil on canvas, 68 x 68 inches, 1963
Stolen from Secret Hearts #83

THE BIG FALL!
.
THE FINAL FATE OF IRA SCHNAPP

.The blurb above -- from Superboy #143 by Neal Adams, featuring "THE BIG FALL" -- is among the last work Schnapp ever did for DC. Schnapp left DC Comics in 1968, after a record-setting three-decade-long reign as the top comic company's top logo creator and cover-blurb letterer.

Did Schnapp take "the big fall" voluntarily? No. Ira Schnapp -- creator of the immortal Action Comics, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern and JLA logos,; designer of a thousand thousand DC house ads -- was fired by DC publisher Carmine Infantino (pictured right).
.
According to comic historian Mike Tiefenbacher, "Julie Schwartz didn't fire Ira -- since Ira worked on staff for DC and not for Julie, that wouldn't make any sense. My impression is that the departure of so many longtime DC editors, artists, writers and other production people had to do with both an attempt by several DC personnel to unionize in order to get health insurance and pensions, as well as Carmine Infantino's own aesthetic judgments of their relative talents. Seems to me that Ira's retirement could easily have been voluntary and due to health, but the timing .seems suspicious to me. I have no inside knowledge of what happened."

Usually, when Mike Tiefenbacher says he doesn't know something about comic books, no one knows. But in this case, there is someone who knows -- perhaps the only person left who can tell the tale of Ira Schnapp's final days at DC: longtime DC employee Marv .Wolfman, best known for writing The New Teen Titans, and Crisis On Infinite Earths.

As Marv Wolfman recalls, "When I first interned at DC way back in the late 60s, I met Ira, already a very old man. I don't remember much, but I do remember speaking to him once I discovered from someone (most likely Murphy Anderson) that Schnapp had designed not only the Post Office lettering, but also the Superman logo, and many, many other logos for DC -- all of which I thought were brilliantly put together. DC kept Ira employed doing miscellaneous things around the production department because, I was told, the management felt they owed him for all his great work. I thought that was wonderful and was surprised, even then, that that kind of loyalty was still in vogue.”

But sadly, DC's loyalty apparently had its limits. According to Neal Adams, DC "forcibly retired Schnapp, and he went to Florida. He wasn't sick a day in his life, but within a half-year, he was dead."

From what we've been able to piece together of Schnapp's life, we know he was a strong, proud man, and an artistic perfectionist. Yet even the strongest among us must eventually take "the big fall," both from work, and, eventually .from life itself. Average life expectancy has greatly increased today, but 36 years ago, those lucky enough to reach their seventies were considered quite elderly and long-lived. Ira Schnapp passed away in 1970, apparently in Florida, at the ripe old age of 75. How far he had come from his boyhood on the banks of Austria's Bug River!


THE LEGACY OF IRA SCHNAPP

Although Schnapp married a woman one year his junior and had two children, it seems neither his wife nor children survived him. According to longtime DC letterer Todd Klein, Schnapp had no family at the time of his death. Perhaps his wife's passing hastened his own, as is so often the case. And so, who is left to tell Ira Schnapp's story to the world? That task has fallen to DIAL B for BLOG.

And so, to conclude this history-making ten-part series, I, Robby Reed -- creator of this blog and author of this article -- dare to ask: What is the legacy of Ira Schnapp? The answer is...

STONE CARVING DESIGN by IRA SCHNAPP
.
ADVERTISING by IRA SCHNAPP
.

DIAL B FOR BLOG ISSUES FEATURING
DC HOUSE ADS BY IRA SCHNAPP

DBB #68- First collection! - DBB #287- Showcase 1 - DBB #351- Brave & Bold 1
DBB #103- JLA & Members DBB #288- Showcase 2 DBB #352- Brave & Bold 2
DBB #113- Misc. Ads 1 DBB #301- War Comic Ads
"The Visionary"
DBB #157- Misc. Ads 2 DBB #302- Subscriptions DBB #375- Super Attractions
DBB #177- 80pg. Giants DBB #308- Superman Giants DBB #376- Genre ads
DBB #212- B&W ads DBB #312- World's Finest DBB #377- JLA & Members
DBB #225- Ads Tell A Story DBB #322- Superman Family DBB #378 - Blurbs, Misc. Ads
DBB #233- Misc. ads DBB #337- JLA & Members DBB #379 - More Blurbs, Ads
DBB #273- Batman Family DBB #367- Humor Comics DBB #381 - You're reading it!


LOGOS by IRA SCHNAPP
In my view, the fantastic logos shown below (and the HUNDREDS more he designed) are Ira Schnapp's greatest legacy. Like Green Lantern's invisible battery, they virtually float over the heads of their subjects in every panel, frame or movie screen they appear in, an unseen source of power that distinctly objectifies the heroic ideal! They are, as the saying goes, "often imitated, but never duplicated." Pure genius! And they were all done by one man.
.
Modified versions of several of these logos are still in use today, and Ira Schnapp's immortal rendering of Joe Shuster's SUPERMAN logo will outlive us all. As a designer, Schnapp might well echo the words of Ozymandias, Shelly's "King of Kings," who was said to have bragged, "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" But of course, Schnapp was too modest a man to ever make such a boast. So I'll do it for him...

.Readers -- designers -- look upon the work of Ira Schnapp, and despair! You will never surpass it! You will never equal it! You will never even come close to it! Try to imagine a world where Schnapp's work never existed... it simply can't be done, because Schnapp's designs are inextricably woven into the very fabric of American pop culture. That is a legacy most designers can only dream of.

But for IRA SCHNAPP -- the young J ewish immigrant who came to America in search of his destiny and found it by defining the style of the world's most successful comic book publisher for three consecutive decades -- the prospect of immortality is... not a hoax, not a dream, but REAL!

THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING GENTLEMEN FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS SERIES:

NEAL ADAMS, JACK ADLER, MURPHY ANDERSON, JERRY BAILS, MARK EVANIER,
FRED HEMBECK, GERARD JONES, TODD KLEIN, JOEL POLLACK, BOB RIVARD,
JOHN ROMITA, ROY THOMAS, MIKE TIEFENBACHER, MARV WOLFMAN



THE END!


.