Welcome to the five hundred and fifty-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven't been able to update it in a while). This week, in honor of The Force Awakens, it is an all-Star Wars edition! Did a Marvel Comics letterer design the famous Star Wars logo for twenty-five bucks? Did the New Universe kill Star Wars? And why, exactly, did Marvel's Jabba the Hutt look the way he did?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There's a little "next" button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: A Marvel letterer came up with the famous Star Wars design for Marvel's Star Wars comic.
STATUS: I'm Going With False
It's funny, our own G. Kendall (check out his regular feature examining old issues of Wizard Magazine) recommended this to me recently but I had actually been planning on doing this one for some time now, as I thought it would be a nice legend to do when Force Awakens came out.
Anyhow, the story boils down to an interview longtime Marvel letterer Jim Novak gave in the first issue of David A. Kraft's Comics Interview...
DAK: You’ve been credited as letterer of almost every series Marvel publishes, at one time or another, Jim. What are some of your uncredited works?
Jim Novak: The Spider-Man newspaper strip, various logos such as Power Man & Iron Fist (that’s one I remember doing that I felt proud of). The Star Wars logo has kind of an unusual story behind it. They brought in their logo from the studio and Stan Lee wasn’t crazy about it—the “W” was a little bit different looking and the letters weren’t Marvel-style. So I ended up re-doing it. It was way before the movie even came out. I didn’t even know what Star Wars was, at that point.
DAK: No one had any idea.
Jim: At the same time, we were working on the comic adaptation. I lettered the first issue, and I had no idea what that was about, either. The next thing I knew, the Star Wars logo was being used everywhere, from newspaper ads to some of the promotion and merchandizing materials.
DAK: You did that logo for Marvel and it ended up on all the Star Wars stuff?
Jim: Yeah. It was kind of a surprise to me, because I didn’t give it much thought. I was either working on staff or just there that day. I made a few significant changes, but it was basically their design and I Marvelized it, let’s put it that way.
DAK: Which one do they use now on posters?
Jim: I think it’s my logo. I don’t recall seeing the one they probably spent a couple thousand dollars on.
DAK: And you did yours for...
Jim: Twenty-five dollars. Things have changed since then. Now the financial situation is a lot different….
So is that true? Was the famous Star Wars logo designed for just twenty-five bucks?
I don't believe so, no.
Here is the cover to Star Wars #1...
Here, then, is the logo that designed Suzy Rice came up with early on in the Star Wars process...
Industrial Light and Magic's Joe Johnston altered the W on Rice's logo during the final preparation of the opening credits of the film (her W didn't look right on the screen).
That's the logo we see to this day...
As you can see, Novak clearly DID design his own Star Wars logo - it just wasn't THE Star Wars logo.
And on the second issue of the series, Marvel basically went to the Rice logo, although keeping Novak's W...
and kept it for the rest of the original run of the series. That particular logo (Novak's W and Rice's everything else) was used just on the comic book.
Note that Novak wasn't exactly definitive in his statement about what logo was being used elsewhere, so I guess he was just confused. It wasn't like he was making any outright "I created the famous logo!" statements.
Alex Jay does an AMAZING job looking into the history of the Star Wars logo here. You really should give it a read. It's meticulously researched and a great read.
Thanks to G. Kendall for the suggestion!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Check out some entertainment and sports legends from this week at Legends Revealed:
Were the Lyrics to Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession” Taken from an Actual Stalker’s Letters?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
On the next page, was Star Wars canceled to make room for Marvel's New Universe?