Big news for Harry Potter fans: the beloved books are getting a makeover.
All seven books in J.K. Rowling's wildly-popular Harry Potter series will be released with new cover artwork, Scholastic announced, ahead of the 15th anniversary of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The iconic “Sorcerer's Stone” cover, illustrated by artist Mary GrandPre with a young Harry Potter flying on a broomstick, has been updated with a new design by graphic artist Kazu Kibuishi.
“Good Morning America” unveiled Kibuishi’s cover illustration for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.” On it, Harry and Hagrid are featured walking in Diagon Alley as Harry enters a magical world of witchcraft and wizardry.
“I wanted it to feel whimsical,” Kibuishi said, “Like an entrance into a fantasy world, but also like a perennial classic.”
Kibuishi, an artist and author of the bestselling Amulet series of graphic novels, is a “Potter” fan. “Who isn’t?” he said when “GMA” caught up with him by phone.
The 35-year-old American graphic artist, born in Tokyo, Japan, said he felt some pressure working on such a series with such a rabid fan base, but was only nervous to hear what one person in particular -- Rowling -- thought of his design.
“When I heard that she enjoyed it, I was happy. Now that she’s happy, I’m going to sail my way to the end of this thing,” he joked.
The new edition will be released in September along with the remainder of Kibuishi’s cover artwork for the rest of the series.
See our edited interview below with Kibuishi below to learn more about his inspiration, creative process and what it felt like to reimagine a book series as beloved as “Harry Potter.”
Did you feel a lot of pressure creating new cover art for one of the most beloved children’s series of all time?
I already worked with the publisher with my own book so I was working among friends. There was a tremendous amount of pressure, but not fear. As I was working on it, I realized the weight of the project and the work started to feel a little heavier. It hasn’t been too difficult. When I step away, I’m always in awe that I’m getting to do this. …I am enjoying every minute.
What was your inspiration for the new cover for ‘Sorcerer's Stone’?
That one was the clearest cover for me to do. It probably best signifies the idea of Harry becoming a new perennial classic. I feel like over time [Harry Potter] is going to be looked at like we look at a Dickens novel or a Wells novel. I wanted to give the covers that classic look. It was like I was doing almost a kind of fan art of Harry Potter, but done in the style of classic literature. The initial cover was very Dickens. I was thinking of “Great Expectations” or “A Christmas Carol.” I have a film background and I’m a big fan of movie poster. It’s probably reflective of some of my favorite movie posters as well.
How did you approach the project?
I’m approaching it from the perspective more as an art historian. I’m also an author and I don’t normally take on projects like this because I’m so focused on writing and drawing my own books. I felt like in this case, I speak for the kids and the librarians out there. I thought I could bring that sense of empathy to the work that is unique. So if somebody were trying to introduce these books to the new generation of readers, why not have it be an author who produces work for a new generation of readers?
Did you use artist Mary GrandPre’s work as a jumping off point?
Her work stands alone in its own way. They are like icons….As I said, I came at it as more as an art historian. Taking a look at how we have sort of accepted Harry into our culture and trying to invent it for a new generation of readers. I tried to sever as many ties as I could and try to think about it from a completely fresh perspective while paying respect to the work that came before.
I made stylistic tributes to Mary’s work. There are little elements and flourishes that I probably wouldn’t have done myself, but they’re so subtle, in the technique that I’m not sure someone would notice.
What interaction did you have with J.K. Rowling or Mary GrandPre on the project?
I have never met Mary GrandPre or [J.K.] Rowling. I did help with a gallery show that showed Mary GrandPre’s work. That was my only small connection that I had to the Harry Potter universe besides from being published by the same publisher as Joanne and being a fan.
What type of guidance were you given?
David Saylor [Vice President, Creative Director, Trade Book Publishing] is the best art director I ever worked for and good art directors know to trust their talent. …. He put a lot in my court and when that happens the artist really tries to step up. It’s been the single greatest client job that I’ve had.
Are you nervous to see what fans’ reactions are?
I was more nervous to hear what Joanne Rowling would think. When I heard that she enjoyed it, I was happy. Now that I heard she’s happy, I’m going to sail my way to the end of this thing.
Which was the hardest cover of the seven to illustrate?
They’ve all been incredibly challenging in their own way. I’m near completion on almost all of them, but the first one is the only one that’s complete. The first one was very difficult. What you see is a very late draft in the process, but it came together pretty quickly.
How quickly is quickly?
Two-and-half to three days to paint it. Most of the process is pulling the information, doing the research, taking the look at what I’m going to do. Then doing the illustration and rendering. I tend to feel like if I spend too much time, I’m over baked it.
What’s in store for “The Chamber of Secrets” and “Prisoner of Azkaban” covers?
It’s still in a state of flux. There’s a lot I’m redoing or revising. Nothing in the history books yet.
Anything else about your process as you went about it that artists should know?
I tried to work on a single layer in Photoshop. I used very few effects. All of the illustrations for the most part I didn’t separate elements. I try to keep it pure as if I was working on a canvas. I forced myself into a limitation despite having all of these tools at my disposal.