Intelligent Design

Looking back at the best of Red Dwarf's graphics.

Red Dwarf has always had a distinct - and ever-evolving - visual identity, and while much of that is down to such aspects as the costumes, models and set designs, another key element has been its graphic design. Whether helping to build the show's future world by filling it with images of fictional brands and organisations, or leaping out from real world shelves with iconic logos for the show itself, there have many individual moments of design brilliance over the last twenty-five years. So we thought we'd take a look at ten of our favourites...

The Logo

Well, the obvious place to start, really. Red Dwarf's ellipse-based logo is one of the most recognisable TV show titles in the world, having survived for nearly twenty-five years with only a succession of tweaks rather than a drastic overhaul. The original "blocky" version was created by London design agency DeWynters, and made its first public appearance on the cover of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers in November 1989, before appearing not only in the title sequence of Series III, but in assorted episodes on ship-issue clothing. For Series V it gained a serif-based overhaul by designer Andy Spence, which has remained in place ever since - with just the odd embellishment, such as the 3D-style version for Back to Earth, and the metallic sheen of Series X's.

Leopard Lager

With Dave Lister practically requiring lager served to him via an intravenous drip, it couldn't just be any old brand that wet his whistle - but a special, bespoke, apparently-JMC-produced brew. The original plain grey cans of the first series were quickly replaced first with a yellow leopard-skin-themed can in Series II, before the classic white design was produced for Series IV episodes DNA and White Hole. It's remained in use ever since, even making it on to a vending machine in Back to Earth. Not to mention being sent up into space as part of the Vindalunar marketing campaign...

"Level Nivelo"

While many of the visual elements of the first series were criticised afterwards for being somewhat on the dull side, there's always been something quite memorable about the neat, stark signage that indicated whereabouts on the ship you were - and not just because of each English phrase being accompanied by its Esperanto counterpart. The stencil-esque font was perhaps best employed on the outside of the beautiful Observation Dome... sorry, the Observad Kupola.

Streets of Laredo

It would have been easy for the "Character Selection" screen for the Gunmen of the Apocalypse AR game to just be a few simple lines of text - but instead, this bespoke character art was created for each of the Riviera Kid, "Dangerous" Dan McGrew and Brett Riverboat (knife man). Given how briefly each appears onscreen, it's an impressive level of attention to detail.

Smegazine Logo

The Fleetway tie-in magazine had a cosmetic overhaul when it relaunched for its second volume in early 1993 - and whereas the previous volume had simply used the TV series logo on its covers, the new style mag made a surprising change, rolling out a special logo of its own. It's hard to say that it would necessarily have suited appearing on the episodes, but it was a pretty funky design that fit the tone of the magazine quite well.

Price Smashers

The fictional department store from Back to Earth Part 2 - the signage masking the fact that the episode was filmed in a branch of John Lewis - had an excellent logo. With a colour scheme and font that made it look like any number of real world store chains, a neat (but easy to miss at first glance) detail was that the "M" of the name also formed the fingers of a fist smashing through the text.

Rimmer's Timetables

An often-referenced part of the show's lore (and that of the novels, too), Rimmer's famous revision titles were a constant feature of every bunkroom set from Series I onwards - but never seen in close-enough detail to be appreciated in full. This changed in Series X, when we finally got a close-up look at the hilarious "Battleplan Timetable", drenched in easter-egg-esque detail.

London Jets

There were actually two distinct designs worn by Lister in the early series to show his fandom of the Zero Gee football team - but the one we're talking about is the fantastically stylish one on his red t-shirts. Simple and complex at the same time, and just the right side of retro-futuristic, it's an absolute classic - small wonder you can't move at Dimension Jump for fans who've had their own bespoke versions of it printed.

Mugs Murphy

Another great t-shirt design - so good that it became one of the Fan Club's most popular ever shirts when used as the convention logo in 2013. But Mugs was more than just a D-D-Don't Shoot! t-shirt - whole animation sequences were created with him in, to be played in Red Dwarf's onboard cinema. It was an impressive piece of extra detail that helped to flesh out the pop-cultural side of the show's future world.

Jupiter Mining Corporation

A design from within the show - it appears right there in the first episode on the crew members' ties - that was popular enough to make it out into the real world, appearing on mugs and keyrings along with the main series logo. It's a terrific design, and the stylised mountains are instantly iconic - although given that there aren't really any mountains on Jupiter itself, we presume they're referring to the landscape of its moon, Io...

Have we missed out any of your favourites? Join the chat on the Forum!

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