New “Harry Potter” book series cover artist Kazu Kibuishi shares his vision
We reported yesterday that artist/illustrator Kazu Kibuishi has created the next generation of cover illustrations for the Harry Potter paperback books from Scholastic. In this new article, Kazu shares the story of his vision and how he came to be selected by Scholastic for this honor.
Hollywood.com (HW): How did it come about?
Kazu Kibuishi (KK): 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. 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 GrandPre 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.
(HW): Did you have kind of a mission statement for yourself in terms of what you wanted to bring to it?
KK): I wanted to approach it like an art historian/designer and illustrator. 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. Actually, it all dawned on me when I looked at a cover for a Perennial Classics reissue 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.
(HW): I’m curious about your vision of Harry and of the other characters. How much of that is how you pictured him while you were reading, and how much of it came from GrandPré’s illustrations or the movies?
(KK): Huh. Good question! I didn’t really think about that! I feel that Harry Potter is, himself, he is… all of us. So, in that way, he is such an iconic character, I think we all feel like we know what he should at least feel like when he is illustrated, and I didn’t really give it a second thought. I really didn’t think about it too much. I just drew him and I said, “Well, that’s Harry.” I really came to it in that way – but it’s a good question! Because we have Daniel Radcliffe and we have all these iterations of illustrated Harry Potter. It just came naturally. I think we all just think about his glasses! It comes down to that; it’s a pair of glasses that is walking through the world, and we are seeing the world through that pair of glasses.
Does Kazu’s vision of Harry and the cover make you want to pick up the new version? Or do you still prefer the original by artist Mary GrandPre? Let us know in the comments below.