Part 2 : Wherein I stop playing the t-shirt field and start going steady with the one true love in my 8 year old heart - a little shoot-em-up-in-outer-space picture called "The War of the Stars", ( or something like that - the photos are a bit out of focus so the title's hard to read ) .
Date : December 1977. Location : Family living room in front of the Christmas tree. Mood : Giggly.
This was my first, and so not surprisingly, most fondly remembered Star Wars t-shirt. By this point in the seventies I had progressed from the printed shirts of years past (see last post) where you were limited in choice to size and, if you were lucky, a colour or two - to the expansive world of decision making brought on by the newly popular iron-on t-shirt shop craze.
Usually part of a chain, often located in your town mall, these small stores had their walls covered with a plethora of designs available for you to have heat transferred onto a 50/50 cotton-poly blend t-shirt of your choice. Not exactly space age technology but the opportunities it availed an 8 year old for customization was almost overwhelming. First... which design? It had to encapsulate the fun and excitement of the film-going experience, while still be pleasing to the eye. And then... what colour t-shirt? So many choices!
I'm not sure if I picked out this design myself, or if it was a gift, but from the time this shirt first shows up in family pictures in the summer of 1977 until well into 1978 I'm seldom seen in anything else. Hmmm... what shall I wear for school today...? I know!....
Here's a slightly bigger image (courtesy of the fine folks at Squidoo.com) of this early t-shirt design that includes a lettering style based on more angular pre-release art. Strangely I never saw this art used for any other merchandising at the time, leading me to believe it may have been a Factors Etc. ( more on them in a little while ) in-house design. In any case it's undoubtedly my favourite t-shirt of all time.
Although I love the total design, it was soon redone to include a more up-to-date version of the logo, as is evidenced (sort of) in this portion of an ad (below) from Marvel's Star Wars comic #10, released in Jan or Feb of 1978.
This was one of a series of comic book ads prepared over the course of the next couple of years for Star Wars retailers (usually large eastern U.S. comic book shops) by the recently formed Joe Kubert School. The ads were usually fairly inaccurate and looked pretty rushed, but considering the likely budgets, deadlines and reference material they had to work with I'm sure they did the best they could. Another JKS ad follows in a bit but just for kicks here's a link to one from Steve Thompson's fun Booksteve's Library blog.
But here, true believers, is the original irritant behind this pearl of a series of posts. The full-sized version of the gorgeous t-shirt art, still wonderful in it's revised letteringness, as shared with the world by super-collector and swell joe Jason Liebig. Be sure to clickity-click on the image for a larger view or here to gaze at it's magnificence in ginormous actual size!
****Update : March 2008 - I was just made aware that a full-sized (or close to) reproduction of the original iron-on has been included in The Star Wars Vault. I'll be ordering my copy soon!
Phew. Have to pull myself away from that one as we move onto what was (at least for me) Star Wars t-shirt numero duo.
Perched on a rocker at Gramma's house circa 1978, reading a copy of Games magazine (which had debuted exactly one year earlier) what we have here is my second SW shirt. Utilizing the well-known Hildebrandt brothers poster art this shirt unfortunately did not last as long for me as the previous one did. Whether it was too small to begin with ( and people did wear t-shirts much tighter back in them days! ) or I was just growing too fast it was quickly passed down to my younger sibling.
More Kubert School ad goodness featuring the same design from a late 1977 issue of Jack Kirby's "The Eternals"comic...
...and both of the previous two t-shirt designs (plus three others) can be seen in this much more accurate ad commissioned directly from Factors Etc. (the company that held the initial license for Star Wars iron-ons, buttons, badges, keychains, etc). This ad always stood out to me as the most accurate of all the illustrated SW ads of the time, due in large part to the work of what appears to be Neal Adams' Continuity Associates studio. Oh that Ben Kenobi... what a joker!
And once again, the full size version of this classic can be viewed heeya.
And finally (for today's installment, at least) we'll take a quick look at the project that Ballantine Books (the original Star Wars trade softcover publisher) and Factors Etc. published in late 1977 - The Star Wars Iron-On Transfer Book!
This amazing tome contained 16, yes SIXTEEN! iron-on Star Wars transfers and was coveted by Kid Glen since I first saw it advertised in the back pages of the many sci-fi movie mags I bought in the late 70s. The book's iron-ons were of the dye variety (popular at the time as cereal and magazine premiums), not the plasticized store-bought iron-on type, and the designs were ever so slightly different than the latter. Lettering, logos and borders were subtly altered. The owner of this book, Jason Liebig, theorizes that it may have been due to the use pink in the original designs and it's unsuitability in the dye transfer version. I wonder as well if it was to satisfy the t-shirt shop owners that the exact same iron-ons they were charging considerably more for weren't suddenly available for a fraction of the price at your corner bookstore?
Attentive readers will notice that the swell shirts modeled on the cover by some largely forgotten minor background characters from the movie, are in fact the original higher quality Factors iron-ons.
Be sure to peruse all sixteen designs!
Coming up next... we wind up our supremely self-indulgent shirt soiree with the the final five finalist in our nostalgia pageant.