Star Wars Day: the evolution of the Star Wars logo & opening card font
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” so for Rice, the obvious font of choice was Helvetica Black but that's not the end of the story of a visual branding of Hollywood's blockbuster saga.
Back in 2015, Dave Barton, veteran graphic designer and art director of MacGuffin Goods, writes of the many changes after Rice's -non-authoritative- wordmark.
The totally '70s logo of the Star Wars: A New Hope was “originally designed for the cover of a brochure 20th Century Fox sent to theater ownersand somehow made it onto teaser posters before bursting into cinematic history as part of the famous opening crawl.”
Based on Helvetica Black “we tend to take this logo for granted since it is so ubiquitous, but upon closer examination the kerning is inconsistent, and some of the letterforms could use a modern touch. Plus, it bugs me that the extension to the ‘S’ on the left is longer than the extensions to the ‘R’ and ‘S’ on the right” writes Barton. “Coincidentally enough, the best Star Wars movie also has the best type treatment” he notes of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Throughout this ongoing saga the modified Helvetica got discarded in favor of Times New Roman and upon the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Trajan conquered the Star Wars watermark universe.
Meanwhile on Twitter Star Wars Visual Comparison, an account that is tweeting all of the visual changes to the Star Wars Original Trilogy, collected & annotated by Drew Stewart and David Harbin breaks down the evolution of the very first opening card of every Star Wars movie ever where everything starts with a card that reads: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
As Star Wars Visual Comparison points out, the prequels changed the font but that is not the only evolution of the original that kicked off Skywalker’s saga back in 1977, with the release of Star Wars: A New Hope.
The original trilogy was released between 1977 and 1983, and the prequels from 1999 to 2005, with the original trilogy going through remastering in 1997 and 2004, the last one in order to create consistency with the prequels reports Screen Rant.
The opening card’s font had a polished makeover in 1997.
You'll see that the Original Trilogy cards were replaced in 2004 with the Episode 2 card, with Episode 1 & 3 being different sizes. What's interesting is the new movies & the font they use. The "g" has less of an aggressive serif at the top, among other things.— Star Wars Visual Comparisons (@StarWarsVisComp) February 10, 2019
“You'll see that the Original Trilogy cards were replaced in 2004 with the Episode 2 card, with Episode 1 & 3 being different sizes. What's interesting is the new movies & the font they use. The ‘g’ has less of an aggressive serif at the top, among other things” notes SWVC and on this Star Wars Day -every 4th of May is a Star Wars day since 1979.
Per Wikipedia the reference was first used on May 4, 1979, the day Margaret Thatcher took office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. An online news article from the Danish public broadcaster says her political party, the Conservatives, placed a congratulatory advertisement in The London Evening News, saying May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.
Astrophysicist and author Jeanne Cavelos used the saying on page 94 of her 1999 book The Science of Star Wars and by 2008 the first Facebook groups appeared, celebrating Luke Skywalker Day, with the same catchphrase.
The first celebration of Star Wars Day took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Toronto Underground Cinema was organized in 2011. Interesting to note that some recognize the following day, May 5, as "Revenge of the Fifth", a play on Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and celebrate the Sith Lords and other villainous characters from the Star Wars series rather than the Jedi.
As hardcore fans go many celebrate this one day later, on May 6, citing "Revenge of the Sixth" as a better play on "Sith".
Typically watching the original Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes 4-6)on May 4th, the prequel trilogy(Episodes1-3) on Revenge of the 5th, and the Disney trilogy(Episodes7-9) on Return of the 6th.
FYI, the Los Angeles City Council declared May 25, 2007, as Star Wars Day, in honor of the 30th anniversary release date of Star Wars.