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Monday, April 05, 2010

Feeling Horrible for Harry

There are some things in my life that I will always love no matter what and defend until the day I die. Like the Detroit Pistons, pure journalism, the city of New Orleans... and Harry Potter.

In 6th grade, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was part of our required reading. Since then, I've read each installment in one sitting, refusing to pull myself away from the wizarding world until I reached that last page. I feel like I've grown up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and am therefore, a little protective of them.

Which is why Bloomsbury's announcement that they will be releasing new covers for the series later this year terrified me. Once I did a little more research and found out what the covers will look like, I discovered my gut feeling was right: this is one redesign that truly did fail.

According to a press release from Bloomsbury, the design for the new series was created by Webb and Webb Design Limited, with the cover illustrations by linocut artist Clare Melinsky. Although I think Melinsky has some great work, I don't feel it is appropriate for the HP covers. They may work well on chapter title pages, though.

I am also not sure these illustrations truly capture each book's content and message. Especially for the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or the American version: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone).

To me, the chess game, which comes near the end of the book, doesn't touch on some of the most important elements of the story. So much happens in this first book (Harry finding out he is a wizard, being introduced Hogwarts, and even the storyline of the stone itself) that could have been used instead.

To see all the covers on a large scale, visit the Bloomsbury Web site.

There are already a few versions of the Harry Potter books, since they have been released in so many languages worldwide but they all had pretty similar illustration themes.

A redesign I discovered that break away from those themes more successfully than Melinsky's are by M.S. Corley. Last February, he posted HP cover redesigns on his blog that mimic Penguin classics.

Although I'm not 100% on board with all of the illustrations, I think overall they represent the stories inside a lot better than the new Bloomsbury covers. Corley even said in a comment on his blog that he drew inspiration from Olly Moss and Spacesick for these covers, both designers I've featured previously.

For comparison, I've included an image of Corley's cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the right. To see the rest of the covers, check out his blog.

Corley used an image of the Hogwarts letter of acceptance being carried by an owl above London, which is a very important part of the first book. All of these elements are actually important to the entire series. I even agree with the spot color he used, as the Hogwart's letter seal is always seen in a red.

In the end, I think I will always choose my original HP Scholastic covers over any redesigns. They are the covers I am familiar with and illustrations I have come to recognize and love.

But what do you think? Are the official redesigns alright by you, or do you prefer an unpublished redesign like Corley's?


M. S. Corley said...

Thanks for the write up !

Unknown said...

I like the original one too. I think that both the redesigns are.. too not Harry Potter.. (But yeah, they are beautiful) I don't know how to describe, it's just not right..?

Anonymous said...

I love Corley's design. It's wonderful - clean and simple and just nice. I feel, as an adult who has outrightly mourned for Hedwig, I would want this set on my bookshelf. But if I didn't know anything about the books, I believe Corley's designs would be a bit misleading. The dialogue, the plot - it's all a bit childish. I love them through and through but these are not novels I will endlessly re-read and suggest to my friends as one of those books (or sets, in this case) that, at least for a brief moment, changes your entire perspective and envelops your world. Harry Potter is a comfortable, familiar sort of book, a safe book that is geared toward a younger audience. In my opinion, Corley's covers far surpass the material of the book in taste.

Alaina Buzas said...

Moments Inoubliables- I know what you mean about them just not feeling right. I think we are all so comfortable with the original illustrations. Those illustrations have almost become part of the book itself.

Seecodyrun- Since I read the Harry Potter series beginning in 6th grade, it really did change my world a bit. I've reread each book more than once and although it is a comfortable series I would hardly call it childish.

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