A portrait of Harry

My – hasn’t little Harry grown up? With the impending release date of Harry Potter book V, I have to decide which edition I want to buy. There is the US edition with the beautiful cover art by Mary GrandPre (she has a fan club!) or the UK / Canadian edition with the phoenix rising from the flames on the cover and the original British text. This is the one that will probably also be the one that is available here in Australia. Here is a whole stack of different covers from around the world for the first book. I think my favourite is the one from France (after the US edition – and variations – which I think is fabulous). Harry’s not looking so well on the cover of the Icelandic version obviously having just been hit from behind by the Hogwart’s Express.
Recently I have been writing up quotes for clients and attempting to explain the tricky ins and outs of copyright and licensing of illustrations in a clear and concise way when the whole topic confuses me silly. When explaining how I like to retain copyright of my images I usually throw something into my emails along the lines of “this is so you don’t take the character and sell it to disney and make a million out of it.” Ha ha ha etc. But then you see an article about the illustrator Thomas Taylor who did the original illustration for the first Harry Potter book (UK edition) for less than £300 and now has to move countries because he can’t afford the house prices (ooh how I hear you Thomas Taylor!). “No one ever becomes that rich because they did the cover of a book” he says. And you see that they sold his original art at auction for £85,000 – “However, Mr Taylor received only an undisclosed percentage of the bid, as all rights remained with the publisher, Bloomsbury.”

After the book became a smash hit, Bloomsbury decided to use another artist Cliff Wright to do the covers but “he declined to do the fourth after it emerged that some of his original artwork had been lost.” (The front and back covers of the “The Prisoner of Azkaban”. Some more details can be found here – pdf file) At least it seems he was brave enough to retain the copyright of the images he created which meant he could make quite a tidy sum when deciding to sell the ones he did have.