Dumbledore and Harry stand solemnly along the rocky shores of an ominous cave — readying themselves to destroy one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Sadly for mega fans worldwide, this isn’t a sneak peek at a new Harry Potter book, but it sure looks like one.
Author and illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, known for his graphic novel work on Flight and Amulet, continues his tenure as Harry Potter cover artist with the moody paperback cover for J.K. Rowling’s penultimate novel in the series. The cover is being revealed currently by Scholastic at Comic-Con in San Diego, but you’re seeing it online here first!
EW asked Kibuishi about following Mary GrandPré’s footsteps and his process for illustrating the covers for the beloved fantasy series:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In your covers, you chose to focus on a single moment rather than an amalgamation of symbols and scenes from the book. Why did you choose that process over the latter?
Kazu Kibiushi: My earliest sketches did feature the characters posing in front of scenes, but when I thought of The Prisoner of Azkaban, I couldn’t really imagine any other image than what you see in the final, with the Patronus and the dementors. That one came to me quickly. It didn’t really fit with the rest of the early sketches, but I just couldn’t imagine the cover being any different. That’s how much that particular scene stuck out in my mind. When Scholastic gave me feedback, they said they want all of them to be like that one, and asked me to take that approach with the rest of the covers. I was so happy to be able to take this approach.
How do you decide what moments to highlight on the new covers? Are there any moments that you wish Mary GrandPré had chosen instead of the images she highlighted on her covers?
I tried to pick an important and iconic scene from each book that conveyed the mood or feeling of each story. Sorcerer’s Stone signified Harry’s foray into a fantastic world, so I chose Diagon Alley to be that gateway. Chamber of Secrets felt like a cup of tea, so I picked the Burrow, a cozy scene. Prisoner of Azkaban was about self-discovery and the realization of one’s potential, so the Patronus scene felt like the clear choice.
Prior to receiving the opportunity to illustrate the Harry Potter covers, did you illustrate fan art? Have any previous works that you have illustrated or drawn impacted what you ultimately produced for the covers?
I drew only one Harry Potter-related fan art, for a gallery show many years ago. The covers for Harry Potter remind me a little bit of the Flight anthology covers.
GrandPré’s covers had a distinct color scheme for each book. What is your process for achieving a specific theme or tone in the colors that you use for your illustrations?
The color choices grew out of a couple of factors: paying tribute to Mary GrandPré’s work and the mood of the scene.
Besides the Harry Potter covers, what else have you been working on?