Yesterday, the Harry Potter fandom was rocked (in good and bad ways) when Scholastic announced they’d be re-releasing the series’ paperback books with new covers.
Today, new illustrator Kazu Kibuishi is talking about how he got the job.
Kibuishi had the same reaction Harry Potter fans had to the desire for new covers: We don’t need no stinkin’ new looks!
“The short story is that David Saylor, the Creative Director who was in charge of Harry Potter back when it was originally released by Scholastic, is also my Creative Director on Amulet,” he told Hollywood.com. “And in passing, he just asked me if I would be interested in trying out for this project. Initially I was hesitant. To be honest, I just didn’t — I was kind of curmudgeonly a fan of Harry Potter, thinking, ‘Well they don’t need new covers! The Mary GrandPré covers are fantastic! I love them!’ But then I understood what they were looking to do, and that was reintroduce the series, the way we see it in hindsight, to a new generation of readers. When I realized that’s what they were looking to do, I got a little bit more excited, and we did submit some samples that they really liked.”
The illustrator also explained how he approached designing the new Harry Potter covers. “I wanted to approach it like an art historian/designer and illustrator,” he explained, “And sort of, I think especially the first cover embodies that approach because, in a way, it is like fan art of the original book, but done through the prism of fan arts for classic literature, such as Great Expectations or A Christmas Carol. And that was really the way I looked at the first book.”
One light bulb moment for Kibuishi was saying a re-release of Treasure Island. “I looked at that and I thought, ‘This was new one day. A long time ago, this was what kids would read and get really, really excited about.’ You know, they would read Treasure Island and want to go on this adventure. And I thought, well that’s what happened here with Harry Potter. This is one of our Treasure Islands. And I wanted to approach the covers by looking at the series in that way.”
Generally, fans understand Scholastic has felt the need to create new covers to grab new readers. While some longtime fans have said they’ll grab the new versions for collecting purposes, most say it won’t encourage them to buy the books – again.
Kibuishi says elsewhere in the interview that he never spoke to Mary GrandPre or J.K. Rowling about designing the covers.
See our original story about the new Harry Potter covers (which includes a high-res version of the Sorcerer’s Stone cover), and see our brief history of the Philosopher’s Stone and Sorcerer’s Stone covers.