Readers can certainly judge a book by its cover when Roger Kastel painted it. Originally from White Plains, New York, Kastel became an artist during his teen years. He commuted to Manhattan during high school to study at The Art Students League of New York, and became a professional artist after serving in the Navy during the Korean War.
Kastel did freelance work for different studios and ad agencies in New York, providing storyboards and layouts while continuing to train at The Art Students League. In 1960 he scored his first paperback cover for Simon & Schuster, which was followed by hundreds more for various publishers.
Among those was his iconic paperback cover for Peter Benchley’s Jaws. His cover was based on the original design by Paul Bacon, with the same shark and swimmer poses. Kastel’s version is far more detailed, giving the shark a more accurate depiction from the snout to its rows of sharp teeth. The art is so frightening and thrilling that Universal Studios purchased the right to use the image for the movie poster. The image has become synonymous with both the movie and its source material.
His entry into the Star Wars canon came in 1980 with The Empire Strikes Back style A design. Also known as the Gone with the Wind style, it mirrors the popular 1960s rerelease poster for the 1939 epic film. The beautiful artwork takes on a dramatic tone with Luke bundled against the harsh environment of Hoth while Han and Leia share a romantic embrace. It is one of the most popular posters from the entire film series.
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