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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #160

This is the one-hundred and sixtieth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and fifty-nine. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Comic book artist Jim Sherman designed a logo for Major League Baseball.

STATUS: According to Jim Sherman, True.

James Sherman took over the Legion of Super-Heroes from Mike Grell with Superboy #225.

He continued on the title as the book moved from being a feature in Superboy to being the co-leads WITH Superboy, as the book became Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes with issue #231 (not much really changed on the cover – it was just made official).

Oddly enough, Sherman did not get to do many covers on the book until he was ready to leave the book himself!

By the early 240s, he was done with the series.

Sherman’s run on the book with Paul Levitz (Levtiz’s first run on the title) is well-regarded by fans, but nothing can top the work he did after going into commercial art, at least not in terms of notoriety.

According to Jim Sherman, some time in the early 80s, he was approached by Major League Baseball to do a logo. He sent in three silhouetted designs (as silhouettes were the basic design for most sports logos) and they sent back pencil sketches of what we know to be the logo for Major League Baseball. Years ago, the logo was a LOT less prominent, and Sherman was not into sports, so he did not recognize the design, and thought that they were choosing one of his designs (a silhouette of a batter) and giving him specifications on how they wanted it done.

He designed the logo, and presumed, later on when the logo became more prominent, that it was his work. You see, not only do graphic designers not get credit for their work once its done (so no “logo designed by Artist X” credit), they are not even told if the logo is used or not. They’re just paid their fee, and if the company uses it, they use it.

So to Sherman, he had no idea about the logo until years later, when the proliferation of licensing made the logo quite famous, and at that point, he presumed it was his design.

Unbeknown to Sherman, however, what he thought was the client asking him to refine his idea was actually Major League Baseball’s logo, which was designed in 1968 by a designer named Jerry Dior for baseball’s 100th anniversary in 1969.

So while Sherman had thought for years that his logo was the original, it was not.

However, do note that Sherman’s design IS different than the original design, so when he saw his design in circulation, he was not nuts or anything.

Both his version and Dior’s version are in circulation, Dior’s version is just a lot more popular, being the original and all.

Here is Dior’s original…

And here is Sherman’s redesign…

See? They’re basically the same logo, so I sure as heck couldn’t tell which logo I was looking at.

In any event, Jerry Dior was and is the original designer of the famous logo for Major League Baseball.

Sherman did, however, come up with another famous logo, as he came up with the logo for ShopRite supermarkets!

Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks to reader Bobb Decker, who laid this information on me awhile back!

EDITED (on 10/24/08) TO ADD: A few months ago, a nice fellow from the Baseball Hall of Fame dropped me a line to note that he had read an article that credited a different man, Jerry Dior, as the designer of the MLB logo, and just recently, an article in the Wall Street Journal made the claim, too.

When I first heard about it a few months ago, I talked to Glen Cadigan, who did the initial interview with Jim Sherman. Glen sent me a copy of Jim’s resume, where Jim plainly states that he designed the MLB logo. Glen said he’d try to get into contact with Jim again, but I presume his attempts were rebuffed. At that time, I changed the status to the whole “according to Sherman” deal, because that’s really where I’m at – I’m not prepared to call Sherman a liar as of yet. Now if MLB would just clear things up once and for all, that’d be great

In any event, I’d gladly just pull the piece entirely, but I think it’s more worthwhile to have the piece here with this statement in case people get linked here from other sites.

EDITED (on 11/6/08) TO ADD: Jim Sherman got into contact with me and settled the facts (including the fact that I had an incorrect ShopRite logo up).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel produced three issues of a comic without obtaining all the rights to the characters in the comic.

STATUS: True

Micronauts was a popular toy line that launched a popular Marvel comic series in the late 70s by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden (why no one chose to do an Everybody’s Somebody’s Baby essay on the Micronauts is beyond me).

It lasted two volumes, stretching into the latter half of the 1980s.

In the late 1990s, Marvel planned a relaunch of the comic, with writer Shon C. Bury and artist Cary Nord (with Dan Green on inks).

The great Micronauts website, Innerspaceonline.com, had an extensive interview with Bury where he explains how he wrote and Nord drew three WHOLE issues of a new Micronauts issue before it turned out that Marvel did not have the rights to use all of the Micronauts characters in the comic.

It was not that Marvel did not know that Abrams Gentile Entertainment (the owners of the Micronauts property) held the rights to certain Micronauts characters.

In fact, soon before this relaunch, Jeph Loeb used the Micronauts characters in Cable – specifically the ones that Marvel owned.

So Marvel was aware that there was a rights issue, but most likely, they probably felt that it was a fait accompli that AGE would give them the rights to the characters if Marvel decided to not just use them as guest-stars, but actually feature them in their own series – after all, why would AGE turn them down?

Well, they did (or if not turned them down, made unreasonable demands that caused Marvel to scuttle the deal themselves), and as a result, Marvel had to eat three FULL issues (here is a bit from the last page of the third issue):

A few years later, Devil’s Due did a Micronauts series using the characters AGE owned….

Thanks to Carlin Trammel (you can see Carlin’s website, Stormspeed Entertainment, here) for the information for this piece, and of course, thanks to innerspaceonline.com for both the images AND the informative interview! Click on the interview for a ton more artwork by Cary Nord that never saw publication!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jerry Siegel came up with Superman’s secret identity based on the elements directly above Krypton in the periodic table

STATUS: False

While this one is certainly false, it’s also certainly an interesting piece of information.

Reader “W” wrote in:

Here’s one I heard from my high school chemistry teacher:

Superman’s Earth name, Clark, was chosen because it consists of Cl (Chlorine), Ar (Argon) and K (Potassium), the three elements that are directly above Krypton in the periodic table . I wonder if that’s true, or just a coincidence!

If you take a look at the periodic table, sure enough, Chlorine and Argon ARE directly above Krypton on the table, and the three elements are right in a row, #17-19 – Cl,Ar,K.

That’s pretty darn neat, no?

However, it is just a neat coincidence.

Forgetting the fact that the name Clark Kent was introduced before Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ever came up with the name Krypton for Superman’s home planet (Krypton is not named in Action Comics #1)…and that’s a pretty big thing to forget, Siegel has already gone on the record as to where he drew the inspiration for Clark Kent’s name.

I actually featured it in an installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed back in 2005 that Siegel had used Clark Gable for Clark and Kent Taylor for Kent.

So while half of Superman has turned into the elements in the past…

half of his identity was not influenced by the elements!

Still, that is an awfully cool coincidence!

Sounds like a cool chemistry teacher, too!

Thanks to W for the question, and the Superman Homepage for the information!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

41 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 20, 2008 at 5:28 am

You know, reading this blog, you learn something new every week.

What an educational and entertaining blog this is! ;-)

Kudos!

Okay, regarding Clark Kent, I always had heard that Superman was inspired by Clark Savage Jr. AKA Doc Savage, and that’s how he became Clark (same rumour had Batman heavily based on the Shadow, or possibly the Spider).

So, I guess you could use that as a gimme on one of the future Urban Legends

PowerBook Pete

June 20, 2008 at 6:37 am

The Shadow’s real name was Kent Allard, sot that could’ve been where the “Kent” name came from.

Didn’t the Superboy title change to ‘Superboy and the Legion Of Superheroes’ well before 225? I thought it switched back in like #187.

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=26615&zoom=4

This one is #197 and it’s billed as “Superboy Starring the Legion of Superheroes”. Anyway my point was that they shared cover billing for a long time.

Is the MLB logo sillohuete really based on Harmon Killebrew?

It’s probably important to someone to note that both the Micronauts and Transformers came from the same Japanese toy line before being imported to the US – Microman.

I remember fondly the release of the Micronaut toys and Marvel comic. My expectations for the comic were very low, However, like DC’s “Atari Force”, those expectations were far exceeded. Incorporating the Micronauts into the existing Marvel Universe was just icing on the cake and did not seem forced at all. After all, Marvel already had an established Microverse (Psychoman).

The toys were VERY high quality, especially series 2. . Baron Karza, Andromeda, Force Commander and Oberon (with interchangable magnetic limbs) were outstanding, My favorites however, were Alpha, Beta and Gammatron. Now these were robots!

Was the Image Micronauts series any good?

When I was very young I thought that the MLB guy had a really pointy nose and chin. I didn’t realize he was wearing a hat.

Ah! Jeph Loeb’s Cable! Run!

Seriously though, the Micronauts are cool.

“He [Jim Sherman] continued on the title as the book moved from being a feature in Superboy to being the co-leads WITH Superboy, as the book became Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes with issue #231 (not much really changed on the cover – it was just made official).”

With all due respect, that’s terribly phrased. Here are the facts: SUPERBOY had been all-Legion since way back with #197 (September 1973), according to the GCD. I started buying it with #202 (Grell’s LSH debut BTW, inking [again according to GCD, but I had thought he did full art there] a Colossal Boy/Shrinking Violet back-up featurette that, because the issue came out as a 100-Page Super Spectacular, actually led off the proceedings–just to make it clear that I know what I’m talking about here), and it was DEFINITELY all-Legion by that time, with young Supes a very active member and nothing else. The point is that the “book moved” only in dropping Superboy solos (other than reprints in three giant format issues) with #197, adding “and the Legion…” to the indicia with #231, and dropping the Kryptonian entirely as of #259. Honestly, Brian, if I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought you were saying that the book was divided between LSH stories and Superboy solos when Sherman was on the comic, which isn’t close to accurate. This is just so others don’t get misled.

…So Sherman was responsible for MLB’s “Birdman” logo, huh? Youda thunk he’d have smoothed out that nose so it didn’t make the batter look like a giant bird taking a swing!

Let’s not forget the fantastic package design & art for the Micronauts toyline was done by Ken Kelly, who had previously painted many Eerie & Creepy covers as well as album art for KISS. Rumor had it that Bill Mantlo walked into a toy store and was startled by detailed package art, immediatly contacting Jim Shooter suggesting they should contact Mego to begin negotiations in getting the toyline into a comics. Mego was perplexed as they had already stopped producing the original toyline by this time.
Mantlo is also credited for the rather ingenious idea of having the microscopic heroes resemble the exact size of the actual toys when they came to Earth. Kids playing with the toys could simulate the perspective the Micronauts saw from the comics.

Finally, another unique Marvel superhero concept came from the Micronauts. Captain Universe.

Stephen Morelock

June 20, 2008 at 10:28 am

The Shadow/Doc Savage theory has been addressed (as false) in a previous installment, though i don’t recall which – I’m sure Brian or someone else can take care of that.

Also, while I suppose it could have been phrased better, I think the official change in the indicia is exactly what Brian was referring to in regards to Superboy/LSH.

The Shadow/Savage theory is mentioned in the very same entry that is linked in this article. While proving that Clark Kent came from Clark Gable/Kent Taylor, Brian mentioned the other one as the original subject of his UL research.

Did Sherman do the NBA logo too, or did the NBA just swipe that idea from the MLB one?

I thought The Shadow’s name was Lamont Cranson?

…I really should’ve taken two seconds to look at Wikipedia before posting my question. I did not realize The Shadow had a different name in print.

I sort of “ruined” the MLB logo for my frined with my opinion that the batter doesn’t look like he’s going to hit that ball.

Of course “frined” is a an accepted spelling of friend…..right?

weird that the pose is almost identical for the bad guy in both the unpublished and image micronaut series.

Let’s all give props to Bill Mantlo, for taking what was (let’s face it) a monthly 22 page ad for a toy line and turning it into a damned good action adventure book with good characterizations and moments of true drama.

Shop-Rite is way cooler than Major League Baseball.

I had no idea James Sherman designed the MLB logo, that’s awesome! I hope he’s made plenty in royalties from it. Anybody else remember Steelgrip Starkey?

“It was not that Marvel did not know that knew that Abrams Gentile Entertainment (the owners of the Micronauts property) held the rights to certain Micronauts characters.”

Can’t…parse…sentence…

:)

Doc Savage was very loosely based on a real 19th century adventurer named Richard Savage (I’ve always thought that one of his sidekicks, Monk Mayfair, was loosely based on a real 19th century gangster, Monk Eastman, but have no proof of that). It is a coincidence that Doc’s first name, Clark, is the same as Clark Gable/Clark Kent. It is not a coincidence that Doc was “the man of bronze” and had a fortress of solitude while Superman is the “man of steel” and had a fortress of solitude.

Can’t…parse…sentence…

:)

Ha!

Thanks! I fixed it!

>>Thanks to reader Bobb Decker, who laid this information on me awhile back!

Who obviously read it in The Legion Companion, which is where it originally appeared:

http://tinyurl.com/4ttuvh

Sherman also volunteered that he did the “final execution” for the NBA logo, although he said, “…not the one they’re using [now].” The interview was conducted in 2003, and I still don’t know what he meant by that, since the current NBA logo has been in use since the ’71-’72 season (http://tinyurl.com/54aa2d). The MLB logo was designed in 1969 for the 100th anniversary of major league baseball, so it’s highly plausible that the NBA people saw it, liked it, and wanted one similar to it.

The Legion Companion is a good book!

I wrote about that a few months ago!

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2007/12/23/the-legion-companion-is-good/

Wow ! I’ve never heard that story about Bill Mantlo seeing the Micronauts, Ken Kelly designing the packaging, or those 3 issues that Marvel did ! Good stuff Brian !

Thanks for a great column, as always.

When are you going to collect them into a book ? ;-)

[...] June 22, 2008 · Filed under Uncategorized I don’t know why this tickles me so much, but CBR’s “comic book urban legends” feature just pointed out that Superboy illustrator Jim Sherman did indeed create the Major League Baseball logo. [...]

Micronauts rocked! It was one of my favourite comics when I was about 10 for two reasons: 1) it was very similar to Star Wars, which essentially ruled my universe from 1977 through to 1983, and 2) the first few issues were included in a prebagged reprint collection that I got for really cheap at a grocery store. Most importantly, 3) Mike Golden’s art was brilliant. Golden was one of those truly unique talents that managed to slip through the cracks in the 70s, who didn’t adhere to the Marvel style. Interestingly enough, the later issues featured some great stories by Louise Simonson (then still Jones, I believe) and art by Butch Guice, another Marvel maverick.

Iloveunicorns

June 22, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Always nice to get the weekly fix of comic urban legends.

There is a good article about Micronauts somewhere in the archive over at comics101.com if I remember correctly.

Great article! I remember reading about the upcoming Micronauts series but never knew what happened to it. I have a letter in some 90s Marvel sci-fi comic asking Tim Tuohy about it, he told me it was delayed but would still happen. Too bad it didn’t, sounds like it would have been cool.

PS: Great article as always. This and Gutters are my two favorite comics features on the web.

Reader “W” wrote in:

Here’s one I heard from my high school chemistry teacher:

Superman’s Earth name, Clark, was chosen because it consists of Cl (Chlorine), Ar (Argon) and K (Potassium), the three elements that are directly above Krypton in the periodic table . I wonder if that’s true, or just a coincidence!

If you take a look at the periodic table, sure enough, Chlorine and Argon ARE directly above Krypton on the table, and the three elements are right in a row, #17-19 – Cl,Ar,K.

————————————————

Okay, first off, I’d be VERY scared of a chemistry teacher who had such a poor knowledge (or general disregard) of the Periodic Table as to make such a comment.
Looking AT the Periodic Table shown above (which IS the standard format of the Table) proves–quite conclusively–that of the three elements, only ONE (Argon) is DIRECTLY above Krypton in the Periodic Table. Chlorine is ADJACENT to Krypton, but NOT “directly” above it. If Kal’s Earth name were made up of the 3 elements DIRECTLY above Krypton in the Periodic Table, that name would be Henear (HElium, NEon, ARgon). From a chemistry standpoint, the column of elements in which Argon and Krypton occur (at least through Rn–Radon) are typically known as the “noble gases” or “inert gases”, due to their relative stability and infrequency of combining with other elements (Element 118–Uuo–is an “artificial element”, one which, at this point in time, exists only in the laboratory, and for very short times, with half-lives measured in fractions of a second; it only looks like it’s in the column, but the entire range of elements from 103 up are largely produced only in the lab).
I’m not sure when Reader W attended High School, but if it’s been in the last decade or so, then I’m seriously worried about the quality of teachers out there. (Making a subject more interesting by bringing pop culture into the mix is great, but this would be like a geography teacher telling kids that “Reno 911″ is set in Nevada’s state capital.)
Now, by pure coincidence, there’ a comics CREATOR whose name appears naturally in the Periodic Table Christos GAGE (GAllium, GErmanium) but I really don’t think his last name derived from it.

TheAmericommando

June 23, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Joseph,
being a Social Studies teacher myself, I can tell you that I have witnessed my fair share of misstatements by teachers. One history teacher told the kids when talking about the Russo-Japanese War that Roosevelt had the peace talks in Portsmouth to show off his favorite team, the Portsmouth Lions, which he said eventually became the Detroit Lions. While it is true that the Lions were originally based in a city named Portsmouth, it was actually Portsmouth, Ohio; making the Roosevelt story false.
I have also seen my fair share of math teachers that did not know how to do a junior high level problem, and told the kids to use the calculators
My favourite story is when I got a D on my fourth grade term paper on Daniel Webster because, she noted, I wrote nothing about him writing the dictionary.
There are a hundreds more gaffs like this happening every day in our schools, trust me.

I read your column every week. I just got finished reading Essential X-Men volume 8, so I have mutants on the brain. I’ve been curious why Claremont left X-Men. Ive seen in a few places that it was done to give Jim Lee full control of the books. Is this true? If not then why did Claremont leave?

Many teachers get stuff wrong (myself included), but Tom Lehrer certainly doesn’t get the ELEMENTS incorrect.

–Looking AT the Periodic Table shown above (which IS the standard format of the Table) proves–quite conclusively–that of the three elements, only ONE (Argon) is DIRECTLY above Krypton in the Periodic Table.–

Wow, way to be anal about it… you must have loved grammar class in school.

I had read the Glen Cadigan interview with Sherman in Legion Companion in which he takes credit for the design. I recall momentarily musing on the fact that I thought the MLB logo had been around for a much longer time than Sherman seemed to be indicating, but I kind of shrugged my shoulders and thought, oh well, surely Sherman isn’t outright lying about something that could be so easily disapproved, and I had taken him at his word until reading this.

I have heard a number of baseball announcers say that Harmon Killebrew did pose for the drawing on which the original logo is based.

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