|The final Joe Johnston edit of Suzy Rice's design|
To mark the 36th anniversary of the birth of the "Star Wars" franchise, Gizmodo examines the creation and evolution of the film series logo. The first logo was inspired by the "vanishing point crawl" of the opening narrative. But when a more distinctive look was decided upon, a professional designer was brought in.
Apparently George Lucas' input to graphic designer Suzy Rice was that the logo needed to look "very fascist". Her design, inspired by German typefaces but composed in Helvetica Black, evolved to join the "S" characters at the beginning and end of the title to the "T" in "Star" and the "R" in "Wars" with ligatures. Industrial Light and Magic conceptual artist Joe Johnston thickened and spaced the letters, and adjusted the stylized "upside down M" shape of the "W", and the familiar logo that has lasted through the years took shape.
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Excerpt: "...Though the poster contained no painted imagery, it did introduce a new logo to the campaign, one that had been designed originally for the cover of a Fox brochure sent to theater owners….Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look 'very fascist.'
'I’d been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas,' she says, 'a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today—how they developed into what we see and use in the present.' After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, 'I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most ‘fascist’ typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black.'
Inspired by the typeface, Rice developed a hand-drawn logo that translated well to the poster campaign, and ultimately to the movie itself. 'I did have the screen in mind when I drew the logo originally,' explains Rice, who 'stacked and squared' the words to better fit the brochure cover. It was an aesthetic choice that has lasted nearly three decades.
The now-familiar 'S' ligature extensions that Rice drew were modified a bit after Lucas 'remarked that it read like "Tar Wars,"' says Rice. 'He asked me to make some revisions on the leading and concluding "S"'. "