Achtung! Star Wars logo has nothing to do with Nazi typography
She designed, she literally drew by hand the most famous logo in the Galactic Expanded Universe. Suzy Rice is the woman who branded the epic soap opera by designing the first iteration of the now-unmistakable stacked Star Wars logo and the story is simple. George Lucas wanted the titling to appear “very fascist, very intimidating.” To Rice, the obvious choice was Helvetica Black, thanks to a book about German typography that she was reading the night before the meeting.
Ever since 1977, when the release of the first of the franchise “Star Wars, A New Hope” (Episode IV) happened Rice's creation has been widely reproduced and reprinted ad infinitum on toys, products, later Episodes of the saga, on posters and trailers and books and websites. Ever since, the history of the Star Wars logo has long been controversial for its purported connection to fascist or even Nazi typography.
“After all, the Star Wars saga is an apparent analogy for World War II, where the Empire is the Third Reich and Darth Vader represents Adolf Hitler. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if elements of the film, like its logo, were pulled from fascist sources, right?” wonders Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes.
Helvetica was indeed grown out of typefaces Joseph Goebbels had selected for Nazi propaganda and Helvetica Black is the “inevitable evolutionary product of a typeface design that Joseph Goebbels had ordered to represent the German Nationalist party on all of its signage” writes Gabriella Garcia in her extensive feature on Hopes And Fears. Yet, the designer strongly emphasized back in 2011 that the logo has nothing to do with any Nazi typography.
“…On our first meeting about the design of a logo for his film, STAR WARS (later retitled Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope but at that time, that first release was simply titled ‘STAR WARS’), on our first meeting, George explained to me that he wanted a logo that ‘(was) very fascist.’ His words, from his imagination, not mine. That was his directive to me and it was entirely theatrical in nature. If he’d asked me for a logo that was ‘romantic’ I’d have looked into something graphically endearing and that’s how I’d refer to that directive — ‘fascist’ as Helvetica Black similar or ‘romantic’ as something endearing, either sans serif or not, but my words, my description, my perspective, my statement. If gossipers don’t like what I’ve expressed, well, again, so what.”
“My original statement that Helvetica Black ‘was the most fascist font I could think of’ was as to the ENVIRONMENT FROM WHENCE THE FONT ORIGINATED, the ‘general environment’ of culture and time prior to, during and directly after World War II, and, as to the severity in appearance of the font itself” she writes.
“It was ‘fascist’ based upon what I’d learned about how that font was developed and within what history epoch it originated — not ‘a fascist font’ in and of itself but from a period of human, political history born of certain severe conditions WHICH ATMOSPHERE PROVIDED ME WITH AN INSPIRATION FOR THE DESIGN.”
“To state the obvious—contrary to bizarre gossip as if I’d stated otherwise—Helvetica wasn’t used by Goebbels nor was Miedinger, to my knowledge, associated with Goebbels” writes Rice in another post on her site. “Meidinger’s ‘Helvetica’ came much later but was described in this book I’d been reading as somewhat similar visually to that earlier signage.”
So Stormtroopers chill out. Neither the Star Wars logo nor the Helvetica font that inspired it have any actual origins to Nazism -despite the pervasive urban myth.