Robot 6

DC will allow Jeffrey Baldwin statue to bear Superman logo

jeffrey-baldwin-superman-statue

Reconsidering its decision, DC Entertainment will allow Superman’s iconic S emblem on a statue memorializing a 5-year-old Toronto boy who died in 2002 following years of abuse by his grandparents.

“We are honored by the relationship that our fans have with our characters, and fully understand the magnitude of their passion,” a company spokesperson said in a statement released this morning. “We take each request seriously and our heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims, the family and those affected. DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance. After verifying the support of appropriate family members, DC Entertainment will be allowing the Jeffrey Baldwin Memorial Statue to feature the Superman S Shield.”

Todd Boyce, who spearheaded the $36,000 Indiegogo campaign to fund the statue, tweeted, “Great news! DC honours both Jeffrey’s family and its fans! After further review – Jeffrey will don the S shield!”

Jeffrey’s teenage parents lost custody of the boy and his three siblings, who were placed into the care of their maternal grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman. While two of the children were treated relatively well, Jeffrey and one of his sisters were locked in a dark room for 14 hours a day, deprived of food, verbally and mentally abused and left to live in their own waste. Jeffrey died Nov. 30, 2002, of septic shock and starvation. Bottineau and Kidman were convicted in 2006 of second-degree murder.

While the case was already well known across Canada, it drew renewed attention last fall with a coroner’s inquest, during which Jeffrey’s father Richard Baldwin testified of the boy’s love of Superman. “He wanted to fly,” he said. “He tried jumping off the chair. We had to make him stop. He dressed up [as Superman] for Halloween one year. He was so excited. I have that picture at home hanging on my wall. He was our little man of steel.”

That struck a chord with Boyce, an Ottawa father of four who began the push for a statue depicting Jeffrey in his Superman costume. But when he contacted DC for permission to use the trademarked Superman logo, his request was denied. The story quickly attracted international headlines, the kind no company wants.

Although Boyce told the Toronto Star that he empathized with the publisher’s position — he thought DC didn’t want Superman to be associated with child abuse — he said, “I feel very strongly that the image of Jeffrey is so powerful,” he said. “It’s the image of a vulnerable boy dressed up as the most invulnerable character in the universe. So I just feel like there’s something lost if we change it.”

It seemed his only option was to have the shield engraved with a “J” for Jeffrey, to avoid any legal troubles. But now, with DC’s reconsideration, Boyce will be able to proceed as he originally planned.

The statue, sculpted by Ontario artist Ruth Abernethy, is expected to be complete by the end of summer. It will be unveiled this fall in Toronto’s Greenwood Park.

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Comments

29 Comments

This is good to hear. I’m glad DC is allowing this to happen.

Great news about the statue.

this kid has been a superboy indeed, DC can be proud of its logo and the people which dress it.

YES! I’m happy the family and their community can find some solace in the symbol so many of us hold dear. This makes my day.

akkadiannumen

July 9, 2014 at 9:43 am

It should have been an automatic “YES!”. That would have been the right thing to do on top of being excellent PR. At least, they managed to correct their mistake. Probably some lawyer or just a clerk that didn’t think before saying no.

I’m glad DC made this happen for them. They should have just put out a statement in the beginning saying they were considering it, and then gauge from fan engagement the appeal of which direction they could take in their decision, and then made a decision. Saying no outright from the beginning made them look real bad in this respect.

Simon DelMonte

July 9, 2014 at 9:57 am

Lawyers: Of course not.

Geoff Johns: What the heck, lawyers? Go to your room!

So, i guess that all this sanctimonious people on internet will have to find another excuse to bitch about DC, huh?

Russ, the family can have solace? The family doesn’t deserve any solace. They knew what the grandparents were like and could care less. Hell the parents lived through it themselves and were stupid enough to lose custody and let it happen.

The community does deserve some solace, but then again, they should have burned down the local CPS building after finding out how horribly they yet again bungled the case and let a child die.

Thank You DC. You are as I hoped and I will continue to be a big fan.

Brian from Canada

July 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

Disappointing. The J instead of S would have been far better a message about Jeffrey. Now, instead of saying he saw himself as a superhero, it says he enjoyed being a consumer of mass product.

DC had no real choice in the matter. When you get publicly shamed for trying to have a moral stance, you can’t afford to remain moral. (DC should not be allowing itself to be attached to any public tragedy; it’s the victims which mean more — not the consumer component of it.)

Oh come on Flavio. This is about an abused child being memorialized not some petty comic book rivalry. I’m happy to hear this news. Amazing how insensitive some people are in these comments projecting there own needs onto this event that they have nothing to do with.

Jim, thank you for confirming exactly what i said. And Brian made a great point: a logo with the kid’s initials would be a better fit for a memorial. But, everybody knows how things work: DC IS NEVER RIGHT! NEVER!

Brian, I agree, an emblem with J instead of S would have been much more personal. Now it’s just a statue of a boy in a Superman costume.

Negative publicity certainly helped make DC comics decision a lot simpler. Remember when they first purchased Superman from his creators and didn’t pay the two creators a dime and then they got shamed by the negative press and those working in the comic book industry into paying the two legendary creators for their greatest creation that is Superman? History repeats itself again but in a different form. This is a new case but one that should be a learning lesson for them.

Did Superman in the film Man of Steel, not say that his symbol meant Hope? Yes. DC comics forgot that when they first rejected this family’s innocent request. They should instead have asked themselves, What would Superman do?

I’m glad that this story had a happy ending for the family. The last thing DC comics wanted was bad publicity when the Superman vs Batman film is just around the corner. Better to be the company that wants to embrace it’s fans instead of a corporate giant with ice your veins.

“When you get publicly shamed for trying to have a moral stance, you can’t afford to remain moral. ”

DC did not have a moral stance to begin with.

good for after all jeffery was a fan of the character and having the s shield on the statue if nothing else dc should look at it as how much superman ment to a young fan whose life was cut short way too soon . nice of warners to do that in the end. plus the negativity they were getting helped too.

Not proud at all of DC, only public outcry turned the tide….oops,better reconsider, might even affect sales! I’m teaching an intro to media course this Summer and tonight’s topic is the power of the internet. This is an example to be proud of!

Evan Meadow, the parents lost custody of the child, they didn’t give the child to the grandparents.

They had no choice as to who the custody of the kids went to.

Think before you decide to call someone “stupid” when something happens to them that they have no say over, or else someone will call you that in return. What you say will reflect who you are.

What a surprise. What was the problem in the first place. I would say F U to DC now.

Ashley, I’m sure the parents could have said “You know what, my parents are have abused me over the years as a child and you probably don’t want to send my children there”. Of course if CPS had done their job instead of sticking with the god awful “Children should always be with their parents, even with a history of abuse” creed they regularly fuck up by and actually researched their choices, maybe this would never have happened. But too many people in this whole story have nothing but complete apathy and ignorance on their minds and this child paid the price.

But yeah let’s just go with the “CPS is overworked and they miss things. It happens” excuse.

Which is right up there with all the people who while they’re taking the time to call out DC for being a horrible company and how couldn’t they have just signed off on this right away also showing their own ignorance by making sure to say that “the boy’s family will be so pleased about this” which just shows how little research they did to see just how all the blame should go to both the family and CPS over this and instead give themselves more glee in slamming DC as everyone loves to do nowadays.

Brian from Canada

July 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

FYI, for those who are interested: the National Post has an editorial about how the statue’s theme — Superman and dinky cars — comes from what little the father remembers about the child. Love never entered into it.

Now, an Ottawa man has commissioned a memorial not for the cemetery where this poor boy lies but in a public park that doesn’t seem to have any association with the child. The statue is purely based on a photo of the kid in Superman costume. (The Hot Wheels car being bronzed in with him is omitted from all discussion.)

Brian, you couldn’t be more wrong about this statue not having any association with the child. The statue is intended to represent what the kid liked in his short life. This happened to include the ideal of Superman embodied in DC’s comic books and movies of the superhero. Sure you may think of it as whoooo commercialization being memorialized and what not, but first off that’s already been long done time and time again. There are Darth Vader “gargoyles” in existence for example.

What could be more iconic to the effect that the Superman character has had than a child wearing a Superman costume? Yes the father I’m sure remembers little about the child but is that at all relevant to a park memorial being commissioned for him? Not really. The city is fine with it so that’s that in my opinion. Lot of us as kids dawned the S shield and pretended we could do things we couldn’t and at least for me this memorial is a remembrance of that.

Brian from Canada

July 10, 2014 at 3:57 am

Michael:

First and foremost, it is extremely relevant to the memorial in question. The person commissioning the statue has no connection with the child or family at all; he saw the story in the media, followed the case, and wanted to pay homage to the child. The testimony he is basing it from is the abusive and absentee father who had little to no memory of his son. All of the things the child is identified with are from photographs that were around.

Second, approval by the city of Toronto really doesn’t mean much. If you know anything about Canadian municipal politics — particularly Toronto outside of Rob Ford — you know a handful of bribes and/or soundbites in the time of election gets anything done. There has been only one incident I am aware of about public art, and that was one that had to be taken down because it was too expensive to maintain.

Third, as someone who deals with design approaches professionally, I can state with confidence that the difference between the ‘J’ and ‘S’ is huge. ‘J’ actually fits more with the memory behind the picture — this is a boy who wanted to fly. Instead, the “artist” wants to mimic the photograph of the child, and there will be no plaque explaining why it’s like that (apparently). As people are noting, in a few months when this story has died down, it can be confused with statues in honour of one of the creators being from Toronto as a child.

Finally, this shouldn’t have been a story at all. DC Entertainment also vetoed the use of Batman in the Colorado memorial this year. The artist explained he felt less disappointed after a meeting with DC. Someone out there — the person who commissioned the statue, a lawyer or someone in the press — decided it would be better to shame DC with this rather than keep focus on the child. As the National Post article and others around here have stated, this story is no longer about Jeffrey — it’s about the greedy corporation that said no.

Jeffrey should be the most important thing, not remembering you wanted to be Superman too. Jeffrey is the symbol of all that went wrong with a CCPS that didn’t background check the grandparents after taking the kids away from the parents.

John Allen Small

July 10, 2014 at 7:09 am

This is definitely the right thing to do.

Now if we can just get DC to reconsider their decision to allow Zack Snyder to direct another Superman movie…

That’s great, but…his parents were teenagers and had FOUR children? WTF?

I hesitate to jump into this, but as someone who knows the father (since before this happened, though I only met Jeffrey once, I think)… yes, he did fuck up big time, in a number of ways but he did love his kids and is genuinely remorseful for his part in what happened. The writer of the Post editorial… well, she’s well meaning, but she’s taken it on as a cause after the fact and has gotten a number of things wrong over the years whether through lack of attention or instinct to sensationalize. She puts her own judgmental spin on things, and that’s her right, and your right as well, but don’t use her second-hand impressions of the family as though they’re an authority without considering the other side.

The father’s not some heartless scumbag who didn’t give a damn, he’s a normally very pleasant guy with some severe problems (there’s history I won’t go into with his own father) who was, to put it frankly, spineless when he shouldn’t have been (and I don’t think that’s changed, and I actually do think he should have been punished legally more than he was, despite my defending his heart). It’s not that he didn’t care, it’s that he didn’t want to believe things were as bad as they were, even when the evidence was right in front of him. That is sadly common in abuse cases: there were many people who lived in that house, after all, and they didn’t step in.

Thanks for that, Al. Your’s is probably the only post in this entire list worth reading.

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