Under the Covers (HP part 2)

hp bloomsbury cover 1So I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post today, but then I stumbled upon yesterday’s Guardian article about Bloomsbury’s new Harry Potter covers, designed by Jonny Duddle. It seems like only yesterday that they redesigned them – maybe the radical modernisation of acid green and fuscia pink covers didn’t do much for sales figures and they thought they should retrace their steps.

There are things I like and things I don’t like about this. On the one hand, I like the original style best. I like the reproduction of scenes from the book. I like how they bring the book to life with magic and colour, and I appreciate the fact that they stimulate the imagination of young readers – the original audience of the Harry Potter books. That is to say, I like it when it’s done well, and I’m not entirely sure that these covers fit the bill. Especially when paired along with the Scholastic US covers. I’ve already written at length on these covers, but here’s an example if you haven’t read it:

new_cover2This isn’t the best example, but Google them and have a look. There’s something about them that couples imagination and magic with the more mature voice that Harry adopts as the story progresses. Really wonderful stuff!

I can’t help but think that the new Bloomsbury covers are a bit bleh (technical term). Harry looks like a child in these covers – even the later ones where he’s a bit older and wiser.

hp bloomsbury cover 4Look at his wee face! That isn’t the Harry that I’ve come to know and love, sorry Bloomsbury. Even though I didn’t particularly like the neon covers that were just recently published, I still admire the bravery of taking such a different approach, and I like that there’s something different out there for new, older readers. With these books, I feel like Bloomsbury are just returning to an old formula but some ingredients are missing or muddled.

hp filmOne last thing I’ll say about the covers (maybe ever on this blog, as I think we’re getting a bit HP heavy…) is that I like how we haven’t just been punted books with film stills on the cover. At least, I haven’t seen any. If they exist, please let me know in the comments! I think it’s pretty great that the publishers are so innovative with the HP covers, still designing and creating and imagining. So let me just finish by saying that, although I don’t love the new Bloomsbury covers, I still appreciate the effort. Thanks Bloomsbury and Scholastic for being brilliant!

(I’m honestly not obsessed with Harry Potter, just appreciate a good bit of book cover art!)

 

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Out with the old, in with the renewed

Century relaunches Star Wars booksSo I recently read on The Bookseller website (one of the few articles I was actually able to read in full as a non-paying freeloader) that Century, an imprint of Random House (or Penguin Random House if you’re being fancy/correct), will be ‘relaunching its Star Wars novels to become part of the “unified Star Wars storytelling future”‘. This bugged me, and I had a think about what my problem was. I mean, I have to admit that I’m excited about the prospect of the new Star Wars films, but is it really necessary to relaunch the entire franchise? Continue reading

Under the Covers

‘New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, Kazu Kibuishi, created extraordinary new covers for each of the seven
Harry Potter books.
In each of the new cover illustrations he perfectly captures a
pivotal moment from that specific book.’

hp usI’ve been keen to do a blog post on the exciting new Scholastic (US) and Bloomsbury (UK) Harry Potter covers so here I go! I’m going to start by looking at the new US covers as I absolutely adore the new illustrations – I think Kazu Kibuishi has taken a lot of inspiration from the original covers (the UK ones have gone in a wild new direction). Kibuishi has retained a similar style, though his drawings have a greater depth to them – they almost look three-dimensional!

He has also used the finer details from each book, and from the world in general, to render a rich fabric to the cover designs. I also think (and this is entirely my preference) that he has selected much better scenes from the book in which to place the characters on the cover. The moment where Diagon Alley is revealed to Harry, and he takes that first stroll down its cobbled streets, is the moment where everything becomes real to him. Up until that point, Hagrid’s words could still unravel. When Harry sees the Wizarding World for himself, the story really begins. The new cover places Harry in the heart of Diagon Alley and I thought this was a much more apt welcome to new readers.

Harrypotter_1

New (left) and original (right)

There’s also something much more adult about these covers, despite the fact that they are still targeting children. I think he has taken a leaf out of the book of the film adaptations and chosen to show the dark side of the Harry Potter story. And it is pretty dark when you think about it. And I think any rendering if the cover, or the story itself, that attempts to disguise the inherent darkness of the text is doing it an injustice, because it’s the darkest moments that really reveal the soul of the story. It’s the most terrible twists that bind you to Harry and his world. Continue reading

Freight’s Friday Feature

 This is almost veering off into Tell it Like it is territory. But I’m not entirely telling it how it is. I’m more attempting to point out how someone else has told it how it isn’t.

jk rowlingSo I read a very frustrating and provocative article by Lynn Shepherd on JK Rowling’s role as a writer who (shockingly!) didn’t immediately decide to give up writing when she earned a ‘vast fortune’ off the back of it.

Before I go into this in any depth, if you haven’t read this article by Lynn yet, you should do it now: click here.

All done? I know there’s a part of your brain going ‘she has a point kind of, doesn’t she? I mean, big bad mainstream authors do kind of ruin it for the little guys, don’t they?’ I have to admit, I sort of started thinking that way – I was reluctant to jump on the hating Lynn Shepherd bandwagon. But then I thought some more about it. It seems as though Lynn is trying to justify this tyrade against Rowling by asking us to agree that popular, arguably mainstream authors are making it more difficult for struggling authors to find agents, publishers and buyers when the books hit the shelves. That’s fine. You can make that argument, and I’m sure many other authors out there would feel that pain and empathise. What you can’t do is couple a self-righteous comment on the closed community of publishing/journalism with an attack (and I think it is an attack, albeit one that seems to constantly premise with ‘I don’t mean this in a mean way, but…’) on one of the world’s most successful, charitable and charismatic writers. Particularly when you haven’t even read any of her most successful works. Continue reading