Continuing on with the theme of pop culture art. It’s hard to believe that Harry Potter turns twenty this year! First released in June 1997 (in the UK) and September 1997 (in the US), the series became a bestselling juggernaut within two years, winning a slew of awards and inspiring millions of children to read. I was in my teens when my parents bought me the first three books, and after devouring them, I (im)patiently awaited the time each year (for the next seven years!) when the next book would come out. And during the down-time between releases, I started reading more fantasy, and science fiction, and “adult” books in general. And here we are today.
At this point in my life, the Potter books are no longer a sacred cow and I can leverage a slew of critiques at the series: the clumsiness of its adverb-laden prose, the ever-increasing page counts, the reliance on contrivances and coincidences, the shallowness of their moral lessons. But I’ll always have a nostalgic soft spot for the series, given their importance as a stepping-stone that helped draw a generation to read more books and discover new categories of fiction. They pulled me out of a teen-years reading slump and got me to read more books than at any other point in my life. It touched readers much older than I, and had an even more remarkable impact on readers just a few years younger, those who happened to be the same age as the characters, and “grew up” with them.
A few years back, Olly Moss was commissioned to do new covers for the Potter series by Pottermore, the digital publishing/entertainment side of the Potter empire. Then last fall, Moss did a series of officially licensed posters, one for each book cover, a beautiful set available for purchase on his webshop. I think they speak for themselves.