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R.I.P.: Roger Kastel (1932-2023)

I'm sad to learn of the passing of legendary artist, ROGER KASTEL, whose illustration work included such posters as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, and many notable book covers, including DOC SAVAGE: MAN OF BRONZE.

But Kastel's best-known work was a book cover illustration for a Peter Benchley thriller. involving an oversized fish with a big appetite and disagreeably sharp teeth. The artwork was so effective that Universal Studios wisely chose to repurpose it for the subsequent film adaptation by Steven Spielberg. The rest is history...

Tragically, Kastel's original JAWS artwork was lost decades ago. It's a poignant topic addressed in Kevin Burke's documentary 24x36. It's a story that resonates with me, as so much of Richard Amsel's work was either lost or (for lack of a better word) misplaced.

I wrote to Kastel during the early stages of the Amsel documentary, and while he wasn't available to interview, he did respond:

I love the work of Richard Amsel. The movie posters, the TV guide covers etc.

I know that he illustrated about the time that I was illustrating, but I had never met him. Much of my work was illustrating paperbacks and movie posters were something that I had to fit into my schedule, The last movie poster that I was to illustrate was stopped the day after I received the assignment. Th advertising agency informed me that all of the material that I had was being sent to LA and that the poster was being done there and the studio would be doing it in house on computers. The end of my Movie poster career.

My heartfelt sympathies go out to Mr. Kastel's family and friends.


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