Some alternative logo sketches for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back by Ralph McQuarrie have been released online giving fans a glimpse of the creative process that he went through before he decided on the official one used for the film. McQuarrie is the renowned conceptual artist known for his works on such iconic properties as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cocoon, the original Battlestar Galactica television series and the original Star Wars trilogy. It was McQuarrie who helped creator George Lucas flesh out his vision for the sci-fi/fantasy project, bringing Lucas' characters to life via his storyboards and concept artwork.
Logos are a big thing for the Star Wars franchise. The yellow lettering of the main logo is as iconic as the film series it represents, in some ways. For a lot of fans, the individual title cards also say something about the specific movie they correspond to. Case in point: the title card for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi has a red font color instead of yellow, as was used for its predecessor. The simple change in color has sent fans into a speculation frenzy, wondering what the aesthetic change could mean in terms of the film's narrative.
The sketches below are courtesy of Star Wars fan and merchandise collector, Gus Lopez, who also runs the website Star Wars Collectors Archive. He posted a single page from his collection of McQuarrie's drawings on his official Instagram account, showing a few of the alternative logos for The Empire Strikes Back that McQuarrie put together before settling on the final version.
If anything, McQuarrie's sketches shed a light on the creative process that he went through while working on The Empire Strikes Back. The doodles on the side of the page, along with the unfinished logos, are proof of how meticulous he was when it came to crafting his artwork. Where his designs were for the Star Wars movie title cards or the overall aesthetic of the films, they were highly detailed.
Given that The Empire Strikes Back is regarded as a masterpiece of the genre by most film buffs nowadays, it it interesting to look back and reflect upon what might have been, with these alternate logos. Much like the film, the poster artwork for The Empire Strikes Back has become famous enough to have been spoofed and/or acknowledged by other properties, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (see this fan-made Empire inspired Guardians 2 poster, for example).
Logos and title cards are as much a part of the Star Wars franchise as its films' opening crawl. It tries to encapsulate the movie that it corresponds to in a way that fans can right away distinguish what episode it is in the space opera saga, even with just the mere hint of its silhouette or color. It also says a lot about the era with which the movies were released. The original trilogy movie logos (especially Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back) had a retro feel to them, but were gradually streamlined to a more unified look with the prequel trilogy films.
Source: Gus Lopez
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019