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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!