In Disney Plus’ The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord’s loyal crew searches the galaxy for the perfect Christmas present for him. The search is not so easy – and ends up with Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) kidnapping Kevin Bacon – because they figured presenting Quill with his favorite actor from Earth might make a nice gift.
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To introduce the special, Marvel Studios and director James Gunn recruited band Old 97’s to play a little ditty for Quill (Chris Pratt) titled “I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)” as they visit the distant colony of Knowhere.
Once the song gets into full swing, the main credits and title start rolling in a stylized type created by Chicago-based cross-media production company Sarofsky. Sarofsky also provided type design for many of Gunn’s other projects, including both Guardians films; the Peacemaker TV series, starring John Cena; and Suicide Squad.
“James Gunn wanted this TV special to feel pretty different from the previous two ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ films,” said Sarkofsky creative lead Duarte Elvas in a statement. “He wanted it to feel more like, well… a TV special. Since these were very popular in the 1970s, we were all drawn to that period for inspiration.”
According to Elvas, Gunn wanted to see treatments that felt lo-fi and less polished to resemble classic holiday specials of that era. The team landed on Bookman for its main typeface—both for its elaborate alt glyphs and because the font feels like a cross between a friendly sitcom and a holiday card.
“The juxtaposition of styles felt very much in line with the overall vibe of the show,” Elvas said.
From there, Sarofsky’s designers presented several typography treatments featuring different degrees of distortion. Reportedly, some had an optical film look, others leaned more toward analog video artifacts.
Sarofsky also collaborated with Marvel Studios’ editorial and finishing departments because “the vintage effects they applied to the typography also affected the base footage to some extent. In this case, we couldn’t simply deliver the typography with an alpha channel,” Elvas said.
With Sarofsky compositing the credits and each underlying shot being worked on by different VFX vendors, all elements had to be delivered individually to Marvel’s finishing department following their very specific pipeline.
“We love the contrast we achieved between the classic vintage holiday typography and the futuristic world of Knowhere,” Elvas said. “The juxtaposition of these two completely different worlds was a stroke of genius by James, and it was a delight to contribute to that visual contrast with our graphics.”
Marvel Studios’ The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special started streaming November 25 on Disney Plus.
Client: Marvel Studios
Director: James Gunn
Producer: Kevin Feige
Executive Producers: Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Simon Hatt
Post Producer: Reigh Casimir
Main Title Typography Design: Sarofsky
Executive Creative Director: Erin Sarofsky
Executive Producer: Steven Anderson
Creative Lead: Duarte Elvas
Producer: Dylan Ptak
Designers: Daniel Geiszler, Cat McCarthy
Music: Old 97’s “I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)”
Tags: disney plus hot spots main titles marvel studios sarofsky typography