Harry Potter and the questionable covers

hp2 hp1I just ran across these covers from (I think) the book’s release in the UK. Now, please don’t hold this against me, but I am not the ‘most biggest’ Harry Poter fan in the world so I don’t know all the details of editions release, colors used, day of the week when a new one came out. Anyway, what interests me is how these covers just feel wrong. And I’m not an expert cover artist, but these feel like what the covers should have looked like – if the books weren’t very good. That’s an odd thing to say, but that’s what they feel like and no slight against the artist or designers. It’s not JUST the art or JUST the design. They seem to latch onto the wrong tone. They feel too lite, too bright and a bit too reduced. They feel like an after school special announcement instead of belonging to one of the most read books of fantasy ever released.

I’ll need to think about this some more to understand what I’m reacting to.

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About mfearing

Illustrator.
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9 Responses to Harry Potter and the questionable covers

  1. I would comment, but i’ve seen intelligent otherwise rational adults go into fits at any criticism of HP…

    • mfearing says:

      HA! I’ve already had one of those emails. I always have to explain that I think the books are great. They got a ton of kids reading. They sold like free-hot cakes around the world. Whatever I think doesn’t matter. But those covers are odd aren’t they?

  2. Richard Due says:

    Well spotted, Mark.

  3. I think the thing about these covers is that they look dated. Like fantasy books from the late 80’s, or Terry Prachett books. Maybe its deliberate? I don’t find this line of cover art particularly ‘stand out’ or stylish. They are definitely doing themselves a dis-service. I tend to prefer the ‘adult covers’ that they’ve been printed with, but this series (see link) in particular works well for adult and YA- http://www.hypable.com/2013/09/03/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-new-uk-adult-cover/

    • mfearing says:

      I think you’re right – it’s an issue of them feeling dated. I saw these on an auction website and I hadn’t seen these ones before and they just struck me as not fitting my idea of Harry Potter. It was just a weird visceral reaction that interested me.

  4. Erica Krilov says:

    I was going to say that they reminded me of Terry Pratchett covers, but that’s already been said. However, I’m not sure I agree that means they’re dated, per se. Terry Pratchett is still rolling out (excellent) books.

    But you’re right – these are not aimed at kids, or even young adults. The sheer number of variant covers out there now insinuates to me that they want covers to appeal to everyone. Since it’s long been clear Harry Potter is NOT just for kids, this makes sense.

    I’m actually kind of partial to that Deathly Hallows cover myself. The Philosopher’s Stone cover matches the interior art, so I can see why that would appeal to some.

    • mfearing says:

      I think it comes down to a ‘touchy-feely’ art direction issue. Those covers just don’t sum up the books to me. And I think they were created before Harry Potter was THE HARRY POTTER WORLD WIDE THING. They seem like they were created for just another middle grade/YA fantasy book about a boy wizard yadda-yadda-yadda…something like that.

  5. Kurt says:

    The first one looks like a doodle of the first idea that popped into the illustrator’s head. The second one looks like a zany middle grade by Louis Sachar.

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