The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan follows in the footsteps of his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by getting new covers, this time from Nilah Magruder.
When a book series gets updated covers, it’s a sign of its success and longevity. It means it’s been around long enough to amass a following and is ready to update its look and grab the attention of a whole new set of readers.
And if you’re shocked by how long it’s been since the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series was published, you’re not alone! Author Rick Riordan speaks to his series’ lasting impact and why illustrator Nilah Magruder was the perfect choice to give these books a makeover:
Ten years since The Lost Hero was first published? How is that possible? I’m so grateful to all the readers who came along for the ride. I’ve always been fortunate to have fantastic artwork on the jackets of my books, including the original covers of the Heroes of Olympus series. But it’s exciting to see new interpretations, too, especially by an illustrator as talented as Nilah Magruder. Her experience as a storyboarder and graphic novel artist shows in the dramatic scenes she created for the series. I love the way she highlighted different characters and managed to feature mythological monsters, too. Her fresh and accessible style will attract a whole new generation of readers. Also, I think the new look perfectly complements the Rick Riordan Presents titles we’ve published so far.
The original covers, and John Rocco’s art, will always have a place in my heart, but it’s exciting to see these characters come to life in a different way from another artist. Nilah Magruder’s covers are dynamic and deserve to be collector pieces for this series’ biggest fans, right alongside the originals.
The Heroes of Olympus new covers by Nilah Magruder
How Nilah Magruder created ‘The Son of Neptune’ cover
Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a book cover, especially updated book covers for a series as popular as this?
“This was an absolute dream project,” Magruder says. “I’ve done fan art for Heroes of Olympus in the past, and suddenly I had the chance to illustrate the covers for the actual books! It was also perhaps my most challenging illustration assignment to date. I somehow had to make these covers distinct from John Rocco’s brilliant originals. In some cases, the compositions were hard to improve upon; Rocco’s cover for THE LOST HERO is so iconic! My team, creative director Joann Hill and editorial director Stephanie Lurie, mentioned that they wanted the covers to be character-driven. For each cover, I searched for exciting moments in the books where I could put the characters front and center.”
To begin the process, Magruder explains, “I started with thumbnails, working through possible compositions. In some cases, my vision for the cover was so strong that I only did one or two thumbnails. For others, I tried multiple angles, and then worked with Joann and Stephanie until we settled on a thumbnail we liked. From there, I moved on to a more refined sketch.”
“For THE SON OF NEPTUNE, I chose a scene where Percy, Frank, and Hazel are sailing on a boat into San Francisco,” explains Magruder. “The challenge was finding a way to put our heroes up close in the foreground while also showing San Francisco’s iconic features in the background. I pulled a lot of photo references of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate bridge and made composites with the thumbnail for staging ideas.”
“Another challenge was giving each cover a distinct palette,” the artist continues. “I found a beautiful shot of the Golden Gate Bridge at night with the red and gold lights reflecting off the Bay. Rather than using a cool palette (blues and purples) more indicative of a night scene, I used red and gold for the key colors. The result is an eerie, foreboding feel.”
“Working on a high-profile job like this can be a lot of pressure,” Magruder concludes. “More than anything, I wanted to do justice to the characters for Rick Riordan and for his readers. I’m thrilled that I got to be a part of this tenth anniversary release!”
I can only speak for myself, but I think the new covers are beautiful, sometimes paying homage to the originals and sometimes going off in unexpected but delightful directions.
About Nilah Magruder
Nilah Magruder is a writer and artist based in Los Angeles, California. From her early days she developed an eternal love for three things: nature, books, and animation. She has written and storyboarded for studios such as Disney and DreamWorks. She also illustrates children’s books, including the Dactyl Hill Squad series by Daniel José Older. Nilah is the author-illustrator of M.L.K., a middle grade graphic novel that won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, and How to Find a Fox, a picture book. She has published short fiction in the anthology All Out, in Fireside magazine, and for Marvel Comics. When she’s not working, Nilah is watching movies, growing herbs, roller-skating, and fighting her cat for control of her desk chair. Follow her on Twitter at @nilaffle.