I know that we are now in the realm of pure preference. When it comes to HP cover art, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Flame me if you must, but here goes:
I don’t care for Mary GrandPr?’s illustrations of the HP series. I just don’t.
Mary GrandPr? has done the cover illustrations for all seven HP books. In the UK, there have been three different illustrators. Thomas Talyor did Philosopher’s Stone, Cliff Wright did Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, Giles Greenfield did Goblet of Fire, and Jason Cockroft has done the remaining three.
Here’s each book cover, side-by side (UK on the left, US on the right), with commentary.
Thomas Taylor’s illustration for the first book is very cartoonish, but the first book is more of a children’s book than any of the other books in the series, so the drawing is appropriate. GrandPr?’s ilustration for the US version of the first book is probably my favorite of all her covers, but I still don’t care for it very much. I especially do not like the heavy-metal-band font used for Harry’s name (repeated on all subsequent US covers).
The illustration for Book 2 by Cliff Wright is probably my least favorite of the series, but it’s OK. At any rate, I like it better than GrandPr?’s illustration for Book 2. Could she have made Harry look goofier?
The illustration by Cliff Wright for Book 3 is probably my favorite in the series. It is the first really magical-looking cover. I love the choice of purple for the jacket, and the painting of Harry and Hermione on Buckbeak, with the full moon behind them. (The full moon was significant that night, you may remember.) Meanwhile, GrandPr? has a rather giddy looking Harry and a very chunky looking Hermione riding on the back of–a giant pigeon?
I love this cover by Giles Greenfield. The Hungarian Horntail is appropriately frightening, and you can see the intensity on Harry’s face as he reaches for the golden egg. In the GranPr? illustration, I can’t figure out why Harry would have that silly grin on his face while he’s braving the dangers of the Triwizard Tournament. If her illustration for Book 1 is my favorite of the US covers, then this one is my least favorite.
This one’s almost a tie for me. GrandPr? doesn’t make Harry look silly this time, and the scene from the Department of Mysteries is an important one, to be sure. But I’ve got to give the nod to Fawkes rising from the flames. For me, the scene of Fawkes swallowing the curse is the most important scene in the book (and one of the most important scenes in the whole series). Besides, it’s the Order of the what? Exactly.
Jason Cockroft chose to depict Harry and Dumbledore fighting off the Inferi with the ring of magic fire. In the US version, an Asian-looking Dumbledore (looking like the blind Buddhist monk from David Carradine’s old Kung Fu series) and Harry stare into the mysterious green liquid, beneath which lies the locket. I like the bold colors of Cockroft’s cover. GrandPr?’s is quite good too, but Dumbledore just doesn’t look right to me. (Remember, eye of the beholder: don’t be hatin’ .)
Cockroft’s illustration depicts the exciting scene at Gringotts. If you look closely, you can see burns on Harry’s, Ron’s, and Hermione’s faces and arms. You can also see a bit of Griphook’s head behind Harry, and Griphook’s hand holding aloft the Sword of Gryffindor. The book also features other illustrations on the inside flaps and on the back. The GrandPr? illustration is a wraparound, depicting Harry (wearing Dorothy Hammill’s hairstyle from the ’76 Olympics) and Voldemorr in an open-air, Greco-Roman style colosseum. Both of them are staring up into the sky at . . . what? No one seems to know. The art is nice, but it apparently refers to nothing in the book, which is puzzling since all of her previous covers have illustrated scenes from the story.
I really, really like the “adult editions” from Bloomsbury: don’t worry, they are not called “adult editions” because they have Harry and friends using foul language or anything. The text is the same. The only difference is the cover. We don’t have these, but as soon as the slipcased set of all seven comes out (in October), I’d certainly love to have an entire set of these as well as an entire set of the Bloomsbury children’s editions, as many of ours are now pretty worn out after several readings.