Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Ira Schnapp



Sounds like Gerhard Shnobble or one of those made-up names from Eisner's The Spirit.

He was the designer of the Superman comic books masthead/nameplate (admit I had to google for the right term: according to which side of the pond you live the masthead/nameplate is the "title logo" that magazines or other periodical publications sport on the front cover).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Schnapp

I was actually looking for the person who designed the definitive "S" shield logo.



One of the many thropes of the super hero genre started by Superman, was the idea that a hero's costume would implement some sort of symbol, emblem or crest, often boldly displayed on the chest.

I can only speculate where this idea could have originated.
Frank Miller proposed his theory in a conversation with Will Eisner (conversation transcribed for the posterioty in the must-read book "Miller/Eisner" - a book that still injects me with some residual respect for Mr. Miller, or at least for his past output, but I digress..) that the printing quality was so shitty that characters had to wear their name spelled out in order to be recognized.

The Superman symbol went through a number of permutation in its eighty-years history, and gets regular redesigns to this day with every new reboot, be it on paper or on the silver screen.







However, one version of the symbol got to be the "official" (or rather trademarked) variant and I wanted to know who did the job.

Unfortunately I was not able to find out. But in my internet scouting for an answer I stumbled upon Ira Schnapp.



Comic-books historian and man with a taste for flamboyant outfits Arlen Schumer has a full lecture on this lesser known artist, who helped shape so much of the DC graphic identity over the years.





Likewise, calligraph extraordinaire Todd Klein dedicated quite a few posts to him on his blog. It' all worth reading.

Comics are a visual medium. On the top of my head I can only think to advertisement as the only other discipline that worked that extensively on the cusp where words become VISUAL OBJECTS, with meaning emanating not only from the IDEA sealed in the word, but from its visual presentation.

But advertisement is not an art (a pretty big statement I do not want to unpack here, even though I anticipate some antagonism to it), while comics is (note the singular).




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