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1. J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne on ‘Cursed Child’ Opening TOMORROW!

Cursed Child is set to start preview performances tomorrow, and in the midst of J.K. Rowling, director John Tiffany and writer Jack Thorne preparing for their opening day, The Guardian spoke to them about their two years of collaboration on the project.

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Commenting on the ‘warmth and ease’ of the relationship between the three creators, writer Sarah Crompton says that the ‘friendship and ease between them bodes well for the collaboration that has sustained them for more than two years’.

We are reminded that this is the only interview the trio will give before the opening of the play. Jo recently tweeted a photo of a badge saying ‘#KeepTheSecrets’, which is the running message of the play’s promotion. In a recent backstage glimpse of the play (which you can watch here), the door to the rehearsals room bore a sign saying ‘Keep Calm and Keep the Secrets’.

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Jo also tweeted a video today, asking all seeing the preview performances and beyond to keep the secrets of the play under wraps, so not to ruin the story for those unable to see the play or those attending slightly later dates:

On keeping the secrets:

“I’ve been through this many times,” says Rowling. “And I hope we get there without any major spoilers, purely because people will have an amazing experience if they don’t know what’s coming.

“Generally speaking, Harry Potter fans are a community, they have each other’s backs, and they want to have that mystery and the sense of surprise. So we’re hopeful. But it won’t be the absolute end of the world. We’re not going to be throwing tantrums about it but we hope for the audience’s sake that we can get there.”

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Two weeks ago, The Guardian’s Sarah Crompton met with the trio, and Rowling understandably hadn’t been sleeping much:

“I’ve been awake since 4am … We were in the theatre last night and I saw a scene that’s very close to my heart, in costume, on the set And it was quite overwhelming” 

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Director John Tiffany is clearly no stranger to Jo’s amazement with the play:

“Jo has been around for a lot of the process,” Tiffany chips in. “A lot,” she agrees. “But last night was the first time I had been into the theatre and seen everything so fully realised. And it was… extraordinary.”

“We did a fist bump, didn’t we?” says Tiffany, smiling.

“Well, I tried to do a fist bump with you,” Rowling shoots back. “And you tried to shake it. So that wasn’t our coolest moment. But in fairness it was dark…” “And I am not known for my first bumps,” says the director. “Nor am I, really,” adds Rowling. “I just felt the moment demanded one.”

Talking about their nerves, Jo – the 4am riser – feels she could take a lot from Tiffany’s relenting composure. He says that his unshaken nerves were unexpected:

“If you had asked me a year ago how I’d be feeling today, I think I’d probably have said I would be crumbling biscuits in the corner. But I feel remarkably sane.”

“You are so calm,” Rowling interjects. “I am less calm.”

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The magic started in a meeting between J.K. Rowling and the play’s now-producer, Sonia Friedman – after speculating the idea and bringing in Tiffany and Thorne, Rowling was completely on board:

“You can probably imagine I have been asked to do something else with Harry Potter five times a week ever since the series ended. Sonia just wanted to explore a theatrical production and I knew her by reputation obviously and thought I would really like to meet her and hear what she had to say.”

On Tiffany and Thorne’s involvement:

“That’s the reason this happened because I thought I will never have the opportunity to work with such great people again,”

Of course, Jack Thorne is a self-proclaimed ‘total Potterhead':

“I still consider myself a Potterhead and I hope the Potterheads don’t hate me so much after this that I am never allowed to be one again.”

Yet Tiffany was unaware of this when he invited Jack to become writer of the play:

“He asked me when we met at the tube station on the way to The South Bank Show awards,” remembers Thorne. “So glamorous,” laughs Tiffany. “And so appropriate, the tube station,” adds Rowling mysteriously. Thorne continues: “And he said, ‘What do you think about it?’ And I went a bit nuts in the street. Only because I’m so incredibly shy, nobody would have seen or realised I was going nuts.”

In an amazing turn of events, Jo Rowling and John Tiffany revealed that they actually met informally years before. Jo was a single mother, writing The Philosopher’s Stone in Edinburgh Cafes, completely unaware of the phenomenon it would become:

One of her favourite haunts was the Traverse theatre, where Tiffany was assistant director. “It was one of the first places in Edinburgh you could have a cappuccino,” remembers Tiffany. “I was there meeting actors and writers a lot, and I remember seeing a woman writing, with a pram at her side. We got to saying hello and I remember once Jo said, ‘Do you mind if I’m here…’”

“Because I hadn’t bought a lot of coffee,” she explains, before Tiffany adds: “Then a year or so later I realised who it had been. And she didn’t come to the Traverse any more.”

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Jo says her and Jack Thorne are similar in many ways, making the bond between the three a lot easier to work with. They’re serious about the play, yet seemingly lighthearted, calm and honest in their approach to working with one another. Rowling seems to have completely entrusted her story to the two creators:

“Jack and I are similar in many ways,” says Rowling. “We’re both, notwithstanding how chirpy we are being right now, quite introverted people who are very happy alone in a room, and there are many parallels in our working practices and I felt like he was one of my tribe.”

“And we bonded over the haircut,” he adds, before asking her permission to tell the following story. “We were talking about the way people don’t realise quite how horrible age 10 is. That was the moment I realised it was possible I could never have friends. Other people would have friends and I never would. And I was talking about buying a coat: I bought the same coat as Matt Cox, who was a considerably cooler kid in the year and I had to wear it to school every day because my mum had bought it for me and it was the only coat I was going to get. He wore it a lot better and everyone thought I was copying him.”

He still shudders at the memory. Then Rowling adds, quickly: “And I had exactly the same experience. I had the same feather cut at 10 as Susan Hook. I went into school and everyone thought you are trying to be Susan Hook, you pathetic human being. We had exactly the same experience of being deeply uncool. And that’s what haunts you.”

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Tiffany and Thorne understand the power of stories to impact people in complex and important ways, and clearly know the role that Harry Potter has had on so many people’s lives:

“When you’re growing up it’s very easy to feel lonely and insecure,” says Tiffany. “And what Jo managed to capture, I think, was a world which made those people feel less lonely.”

Rowling explains why she took on the project, and trusted Jack with the writing:

“I never set out to build a big community, but I don’t think there is a writer alive who wouldn’t want to have that many people react to their work,” she says. “That’s what happened. People came inside the world with me.

This is why [Jack] is the right man for the job, because he just gets it. That’s pitch perfect. The big reason why people loved Potter was that it felt like it could be. That sense that there is more to the world. Just on the other side. Even within touching distance. There’s more. It is the promise of another world and it doesn’t have to be a magical world but to a lonely child or an insecure person or anyone who feels different or isolated, the idea of having a place where you do belong is everything.”

“From the moment he produced the first outline, I thought bingo, that’s it.

On whether she ever considered writing the play herself:

“I am not so arrogant that I think when you’ve got an absolutely top-class playwright offering to do it that I’m going to say, ‘Well, I’ve never done it before but I’ll do it.’ It’s a question of knowing the limits of your own competence. I was reasonably involved in the Potter scripts. I’m more familiar with that world. I felt a degree of confidence writing a screenplay but I had supreme confidence that Jack was going to write the play that I was going to love and he has. So you can’t ask fairer than that.”

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Later she comments on stage writing being a ‘revelation’ to her:

“It is a totally new language to me,” she says. “So watching Jack and what he can do on the page and his understanding on what will then translate on to stage has been such a revelation to me. I know novels and I know movies but this is a different world entirely. Jack has access to a paintbox that I don’t have because I don’t understand the medium.”

Thorne smiles. “To be honest, ever since I wrote Let the Right One In, I’d write something like, ‘They run through a forest and then are strung up on a tree and brutally murdered’. I’d just write it on a page and make John do it. And he does” 

The world of Harry Potter seemed silent to us for a long time – the play has returned the magic to us all in a new form, and Fantastic Beasts is introducing us to new elements in the world of magic that we’ve not encountered before. Rowling says that the stories never left her, even whilst she worked on The Casual Vacancy and Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels:

“It was 17 years and just because I’ve stopped on the page doesn’t mean my imagination stopped,” she says. “It’s like running a very long race. You can’t just stop dead at the finishing line. I had some material and some ideas and themes, and we three [she nods at Tiffany and Thorne] made a story.”

“But I carry that world around in my head all the time,” she acknowledges. “I am never going to hate that world. I love that world. But there are other worlds I want to live in too. To be perfectly honest, I just feel if I enjoy it, I’ll do it – and if I don’t, I won’t.”

“I always said never say never, and the reason I said that was truthfully that I did have this residue in my head in both directions – in Fantastic Beasts…, which is going back, and in this play, which is going forwards. So I still had this material in my head.

“It’s been amazing because there are roots over there and shoots over here, so it is keeping it very consistent and doing it all at the same time. We are sharing a lot between the worlds.”

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The medium chosen for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child intrigued us all – when we heard there would be an ‘eighth story’ many expected another book, some thought it would be a film – many were confused when the scriptbook was announced – it’s a method of storytelling that’s new to us all, but theatre has captured the imaginations of creators for centuries, so perhaps it is only fitting that one of the greatest stories of this century moves to the stage. Rowling explains the reasoning behind the process:

“I kept being asked whether I would make a musical and I don’t like musicals,” she says, grimacing. “Theatre, on the other hand, I love. I find it a seductive world – there is nothing like seeing an actor perform live. But I had never had anyone approach me or propose anything that excited me like this.

“I think that, as a theatrical experience, as a play, it will be unlike anything people have seen before. And once people have had this theatrical experience, they will understand why this was the perfect medium for the story.”

The play is an art form unlike any other, yet in this day and age it seems to be neglected – Rowling herself admits to never having considered its appeal before. Jack Thorne and John Tiffany are trying to bring it back with J.K. Rowling, in style:

“The phrase John hates more than any other is ‘I should go to the theatre more often’ because it contains the idea that going to the theatre is an obligation.” “Like eating your vegetables,” Rowling chips in. “Or going to church,” adds Tiffany. “And that,” continues Thorne, as if in three-part harmony, “is the death of theatre. This is an opportunity, I guess, to get people who don’t feel they should go to the theatre to go to the theatre, and then discover that they want to go to the theatre.”

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John Tiffany and Jack Thorne also unpack the reasoning behind Cursed Child being in two parts (as two separate plays):

“You would have had no space for character,” says Thorne. “It would just have been plot, plot, plot.”

Tiffany explains: ”Where film can eat up story, theatre needs space and breath. Once we thought of doing it in two parts, it felt naughty to begin with, but we felt we didn’t want to short change the story. We were very nervous up until the moment when the audience started to buy tickets, and the response was overwhelmingly fantastic, because the fear was that people would think we were just exploiting this. But it wasn’t that in any way, shape or form.” Rowling adds: “We had space to do what we were talking about doing.”

We’ve all seen the unsettling underbelly of Potter fandom rear its head in response to the casting of the Potter trio in Cursed Child – the casting of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione in particular sparked an enraged response.

Some claimed that this casting was ‘against canon’, it was against the films, it was against the book covers, it was against descriptions of Hermione (as having ‘very brown’ skin in Chapter 4 of Prisoner of Azkaban, with her infamous brown ‘bushy’ hair), it was – apparently – just wrong. 

Perhaps these remarks did not come from a place of racism, or at least were not intended to come from such shallow places. Perhaps any move away from Emma Watson portraying Hermione would have been met with anger, perhaps people can’t understand that one medium of storytelling does not define another.

Hermione as played by Noma Dumezweni

Whatever the case, J.K. Rowling commented on the response with the truth: Noma plays Hermione Granger well and – in the author’s opinion – fits the character perfectly:

“With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot,” she says. “But what can you say? That’s the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job. When John told me he’d cast her, I said, ‘Oh, that’s fabulous’ because I’d seen her in a workshop and she was fabulous.”

Unknown to Tiffany, when he made his casting call, there had in fact been a “black Hermione” theory around in Potterworld for years. Yet the strength of reaction surprised him. “I am not as Twitter familiar as Jo and Jack, so I hadn’t encountered its dark side, which is just awful,” he says. “The anonymity breeds horrors so after a while I stopped reading it. But what shocked me was the way people couldn’t visualise a non-white person as the hero of a story. It’s therefore brilliant that this has happened.”

Rowling settles the issue with a firm affirmation of Hermione’s state as a fictional character who can be interpreted in a variety of manners:

 “I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white’ – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with. But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm.”

The play will be ‘as purely as theatrical as possible’, according to Tiffany:

“Not a bombastic spectacle that makes people sit back,” he says. “It’s hopefully something that pulls you in. It is absurdly ambitious theatrically but it’s also about the audience and the imagination, which is exactly what a novelist does as well.”

Read the full Guardian interview here!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 start previewing tomorrow, June 7th, with the official opening of the play taking place on July 30th (alongside the release of the Cursed Child special rehearsal edition scriptbook). Forty low-cost tickets for performances will be released each week every Friday at 1pm – find out more at the play’s website here!

Furthermore, if you’re interested in attending Cursed Child Midnight book release parties on July 30th, find out more about GeekyCon’s exclusive event in Orlando here, and Barnes & Noble’s nationwide events here!

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2. UPDATE: ‘Cursed Child’ Book to be Published in July, and Jim Kay’s Illustrated ‘Chamber of Secrets’ Announced!

Following speculations, Pottermore and Little Brown UK have just announced that the script book for Cursed Child will be released July 31st (Harry Potter / J.K. Rowling’s birthday)!

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Pottermore reports:

A host of new print and digital publishing has been announced from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, including a Special Rehearsal Edition of the script book of new stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. 

Print and digital editions will publish simultaneously after the play’s world premiere this summer, and will comprise of the version of the play script at the time of the play’s preview performances. 

Theatre previews allow the creative team the chance to rehearse and explore scenes further before a production’s official opening night. Harry Potter and the Cursed Childopens for previews several weeks before its official first performance on Saturday 30 July and the Special Rehearsal Edition of the script book will later be replaced by a Definitive Collector’s Edition.

The news confirms that fans around the world will be able to join this next venture into the Wizarding World, so don’t fret if you didn’t get tickets to the play!

Pottermore also announced the release of Special Editions, and Jim Kay’s next illustrated edition of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets!:

Next year will see the publication of four special editions of the first book in the UK, one for each of the four Hogwarts houses. There will also be a brand new edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2017, with new content by J.K. Rowling, as well as new formats and editions of the Hogwarts Library books – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. 

Pottermore doesn’t play favourites, but we’re especially looking forward to nabbing a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated by Jim Kay. That’s coming a little sooner, in October 2016, and we’ll be prodding Jim for a look at his latest work soon because we’re nosy like that.

2016 is looking like a huge year – Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts, more Jim Kay illustrations – what more could we want?!

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3. EXCLUSIVE: A Visit with Mina and Lima at the HP Graphic Art Exhibition

Leaky was honored with the opportunity to talk with the wonderful Graphic Art designers of the Harry Potter films, Mira Mina and Eduardo Lima, at the Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films Exhibition.

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Hidden away in a small gallery off of Tottenham St., only set apart from the other shop windows by it’s floating candles, the exhibition itself was breath taking–one of the few opportunities fans have to be so up close and personal with the materials used to make our favorite films–show casing 83 of the thousands graphic art pieces MinaLima designed. It is a magical experience for any Harry Potter fan, that takes on an even more surreal feel when the two geniuses behind the artwork enter the gallery. One cannot resist sneaking up to them to ask a few questions, beginning with how these select few pieces chosen.

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“We have curated lots of stuff. But there is stuff that doesn’t warrant being presented like this,” Mira said.

“For example, the print with Slughorn’s potion label. We designed loads and loads, but that one was the best,” Eduardo said.

“We selected them like the X-Factor. ‘You’re a no go, sorry.’ Dumbledore’s memories, the Weasley Wheezes stuff, there were hundreds of labels in that shop, but most of those were just put together on set. We tried to choose the ones that mattered most to design, the most thinking.”

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When asked it the designs they enjoyed creating the most were the ones that required the more thinking, Eduardo and Mira took a moment and then agreed.

“I suppose so,” Mira looked at Eduard, who nodded. “Yeah. We never really thought about it. The process is quite intuitive for us. Though, that does’t mean it’s easy! I just never really think what the process is, it just sort of happens.”

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Many of those apart of the Harry Potter series have felt the pressure of living up to the expectations for such a phenomenon. Eddie Redmayne has mentioned feeling such weight joining the Potter universe as Newt Scamander. But the same pressure did not seem to have an effect on that design process.

“It was big but it was all very smooth.” Eduardo said.

“It was a big production, with lots of time and lots of money. The things you feel pressured with in film is when you don’t have time to do things really nicely, and that’s when it is frustrating.” Mira explained.

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“We were there, as well, and for 10 years. Each year became a little bit smoother,” Eduardo said. “It was the same people. We had the same art department, the same producers, and the last four with the same director. That helped.”

Walking around the gallery, I was asked what piece was my favorite out of the 83, and I couldn’t choose. I asked Mira and Eduardo, out of the thousands of designs they created, if they had any pieces that were especially near and dear to their heats:

“I always say that my favorite thing to design was the Daily Prophet,” Eduardo said.”All of it was brilliant. And the Marauder’s Map.”

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“It’s kinda a bit mean if we say that because they’re like our babies, and would be mean to say one is better than the other,” Mira added, with a smile.

“Especially now in a situation like this [the Exhibition]. Years have gone by, you step back, and look back in. Everything looks nicer when you do that. When you put it away and revisit it later, it has a new life, a new energy. Those two pieces [the Daily Profit and the Marauder’s Map], because of the relationship we had with them. When we were working and they kept coming back. The Marauder’s Map came back in 4 films. It had to have new bits of architecture to reflect the movie it was in. It was very organic, very alive, it just kept growing. So did the newspaper.”

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It is tough to pick favorites. Both Mira and Eduardo also expressed love for all of the Weasley Wizard Wheezes, and all of Hermione’s beautiful books that are hardly ever seen as she keeps them in her bag. The book covers are gorgeous (a few are pictured above), and worth a trip to the Coningsby Gallery in-and-of-themselves.

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Harry Potter was the longest, largest project Mina Lima has had, spending a long time on a film would be spending a year on a set, ten years is unheard of. We have been told that there is unlimited amount of Fantastic Beats films planned–though, almost definitely three to start with. Having just arrived at the gallery, getting off work on the Fantastic Beasts set, which is set 70 years before Harry and feels like a different project, I asked how many years they expected to work in the Potter universe with the spin-off films, if Fantastic Beasts was going to be just as big.

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“No idea, literally no idea,” Mira said. “I’m not even covering anything up now, we really don’t know anything about it.”

“It was easier knowing with the books, having only the seven books,” Eduardo added.

“But even then, when we started there were only two books out,” Mira said.

Even with seven books being specifically planned, Mira added back in the late 1990’s, they had no idea how well the films were going to do, or if they didn’t know if there would be another film. Fantastic Beasts is only a screen play, not adapted from a book, Mira agreed that creating the visuals and the graphic design for Fantastic Beasts was a bit more challenging.

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“When you are creating, there is no back story you can really turn to, which was really great in Harry Potter. Occasionally we have to ask Jo Rowling [for input],” Mira said.

“Even with the Harry Potter books, were not that specific of detail,” Eduardo said. “with the Marauder’s Map she never really wrote how the map looked, she just said something about the footsteps. We are used to that now. When we are there [on set] we have Stuart Craig, David Heyman, David Yates, and we talk to them and feel out how things should be.”

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Like everyone involved with anything related to Fantastic Beasts, Mira and Edward are also on a gag order not to release any information. They could not specify if Fantastic Beasts was stylistically different or similar to Harry Potter–same universe, but years apart. They did say that the year 1926 will make at least make a difference, and they loved talking about what it was like working on a period piece from a graphic designer’s perspective.

“1920’s America is amazing to work with,” Eduardo said, grinning with excitement.

“Not just for us, it’s a great set for any designer,” Mira agreed. “Even when we’re doing muggle stuff it is exciting.”

“No-Maj,” Eduardo corrected her.

“Oh is that one out?” Mira asked. We talked about the great debate of Muggle vs. No-Maj that the release of the American term, for non-magical folk, had created. I was quizzed on how to say the term as an American, as pronunciation seemed to be the great debate on set.

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The new level of secrecy around the Potter spin-off series is something for everyone to get used to. As fans read the books before the movies came out, there was no need to build excitement or protect anyone from spoilers. It is almost as frustrating for those on set as those off set.

“I was a little annoyed when they sent memos to everyone saying you can’t say anything,” Eduardo sympathized with me as I struggled to ask questions that didn’t pry far into Fantastic Beasts. “There is so much. It is very annoying that everyone will have to wait until next November.”

These two are so excited about the films, just bursting to share it with everyone…but they can’t they have to wait just like the rest of us. In the mean time, the original world of Harry Potter still has much to offer fans. While in London, one simply cannot miss a trip to the Studio Tour, or the MinaLima Exhibition, currently being shown in the the Coningsby Gallery until December 19.

For more information about the gallery exhibition, please visit the the Coningsby Gallery website. To learn more about Mira Mina, Eduardo Lima, and their amazing work, please visit their website.

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4. Wizarding World of Harry Potter in One Day

In anticipation of Universal Orlando’s Celebration of Harry Potter weekend and upcoming vacation season, my sister has written a special touring report for witches and wizards heading to the Wizarding World this year.

Now that the lines have died down slightly, it is completely possible to follow in Harry’s footsteps and experience all that Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer in one day.

I come from a family of theme park vacation planners and our typical plans aim at maximizing fun while minimizing walking and lines. This is not that plan. This plan attempts to fully immerse you in the wizarding experience the way it unfolded for Harry. You should get to everything you want to do, but wear comfortable shoes and bring ibuprofen because you will spend some time on your feet.

Logistics

First, you will need to invest your child’s college savings in a single day 2-park ticket that includes access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It is a lot to spend on one day, but it is the only way to experience the Hogwarts Express ride between the parks. I justified to it to myself that I could always go to one park or the other on a subsequent trip and my sister really needed me to write this report. Do whatever it takes to relieve your guilt and purchase this ticket. To whoever is reading this, thank you for your part in clearing my conscience.

You may have heard about Universal’s locker policy for certain rides. They are free for the duration of the rides that require them and we did not face much frustration, so feel free to bring whatever you want to carry to the parks – including lots of snacks and toys for the kids. Just kidding. We all know you have to be eleven for admission to Hogwarts and that is about the age required to get through this single day plan successfully.

I do recommend bringing as many photo-taking devices as possible. Feel free to dust off your old point and shoot if you don’t want your phone to die before the galleon shot.

One word of warning is regarding the security “process” recently instated. Unless you want to wait in a long line walking in place on a mobile walkway, I suggest parking at least 45 minutes before opening. After getting through, head right and enter through Universal Studios.

London

Your Wizarding World journey will begin as it did for Harry – in London. Take a brief look around the telephone booths (dial MAGIC for a message from the Ministry) and cabbies’ shelters. You can also try asking an employee where you can find Diagon Alley. I overheard one who responded they had “no idea” – silly muggles.

Diagon Alley

When you reach jolly good status, head “through” the brick wall into the most magical theme park land I’ve ever experienced. Join the group of people standing right inside and take it all in. You will be annoyed by these people later, but for now – enjoy the view.

Diagon Alley in Daytime

So much traffic being blocked for this.

Just like the first time Hagrid brought Harry to Diagon Alley, your first step is to get proper wizard currency at the Gringott’s Money Exchange. If you know you will buy something later or you like making poor souvenir investments, you can purchase wizard notes in $10 or $20 increments. Even you don’t want to exchange, it is worth checking out.

Gringotts Money Exchange

Now with pockets full, it is time to shop! Begin at Ollivander’s Wand Shop and experience the wand selection process before choosing one of your own. Universal now has the option of interactive wands that allow you to “cast spells” with certain wand movements that is very fun.

Wand in Action

At mid-morning, make your way to King’s Cross Station.

Kings Cross

It is time to enter your first year at Hogwarts, but don’t worry, the school year always has a pesky way of ending, and you will be back to explore more of Diagon Alley later. Watch fellow classmates head through the wall to platform 9 ¾ before you find your compartment and enjoy the ride.

Platform

Compartment

Hogsmeade

Hogwarts

Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and then head to the Three Broomsticks for lunch.  Be sure to have some Butterbeer – available hot, cold or frozen. Then catch the last two attractions in Hogsmeade, Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge, before taking in the shops.

Flight of Hippogriff

Hogsmeade

With all of your Hogwarts hijinks behind you, it is now dark times for Harry Potter– and you must once again board the Hogwarts Express, this time without the anticipation of return– as you seek to destroy Voldemort.

Return to Diagon Alley

Upon your arrival back in London, stop for a conversation with the Knight Bus driver and head back to Diagon Alley through those pesky bystanders I warned would eventually annoy you.

Knight Bus

Take a detour through Knockturn Alley to feel the gravity of the situation before proceeding to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s.

Kockturn Alley

Escape From Gringotts1

The line will be horrible, and I might recommend going the single rider route for this one as they seemed to be able to peek in for the interesting parts of the queue, but I don’t know for sure.

Line

Part of said line.

What I do know is that this ride is a fantastic pinnacle to a great day and is worth any amount of time your body will allow.

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After saving humanity you deserve to tuck in at the Leaky Cauldron. We tried Bangers and Mash and the Pie Combo, and both were delicious. Also, props to Universal for their efficiency with this restaurant. They direct those from a single line to the next available register and find you a seat, which really took away the stress usually involved with theme park dining.

Bangers and Mash Pies

Finally, finish up your shopping and explore Diagon Alley, which is really a different experience at night. Here are some of the great products available.

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On your way out, feel free to block the entrance of Diagon Alley one last time for that goodbye shot to last you until you can save enough sickles to return.

Goodbye Shot

See here to learn more about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort and start planning your own adventure.

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5. Leaky Fans on the Ground at the HP Celebration- Part 1: Chelsea

Unfortunately, this last weekend, Leaky wasn’t able to attend the Harry Potter Celebration in Orlando. However, we do have marvelous Harry Potter fans who follow our site, and we invited them to share their experiences of the celebration.

Chelsea Kleven, a Senior Production Editor for a Central Florida newspaper, was the first to share her experience with us. The following review of the Harry Potter celebration is written by Chelsea Kleven. (Click to enlarge photos)

 

I had no expectations for the Harry Potter Celebration weekend. My friend Amy and I had heard about the Harry Potter Celebrations before, but had never been to one. We live an hour from Universal Studios and both have annual passes to the park, and this year, we decided to see what it was all about. We figured it would be over-crowded and impossible to do anything all day, but since we have been to the park and experienced this many times before, we didn’t mind.

Amy and I both work for a daily Central Florida newspaper. I’m a designer, and she has a design background but now works on special projects and social media. We are both HUGE newspaper nerds, which inspires our love for the Daily Prophet (even though it seems Daily Prophet is written by many crooked journalists in the books.)
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We headed straight for Hogsmeade Village when we got to the park, though we normally go to Diagon Alley first (that way you can ride the train from King’s Cross to Hogwarts like you would at the start of a school year. We’ve given this a lot of thought.)
When we looked up the schedule for the Celebration events, we discovered there was a graphic design panel happening in about 45 minutes in Hogsmeade. Perfect! We had just enough time for a ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and run over to the panel. 
For as big of a Harry Potter fan and design nerd as I am, I had absolutely no prior knowledge of Minalima, the graphic design duo behind the Harry Potter films. Their talk was short and sweet, but still awesome. I had no idea what being a graphic designer for a film was like.
They began with a short video showing clips of their work as seen in the films. They discussed how many people don’t realize how every paper, poster, package … everything!…has to be created by a graphic designer. 
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Minalima spent a large amount of time creating a realistic world for these characters to interact in, but often, their work is rarely seen in the final film. For example, they said they spent 7 months working on all of the elements for Fred and George’s shop, when it was only seen in the film for about a minute and 30 seconds.
They weren’t bitter about this at all though. They seemed thrilled to have been a part of the films, and lucky to help bring authenticity to the magical world. Another example of their hard work was how they designed all of Hermione’s books for Deathly Hallows. However, the books, too, were never even seen in the film. All they got was a sound of the books falling over in Hermione’s beaded bag. 
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They discussed how the parks were such a dream for them, because they were now able to show their work in a place where people were able to really stop and look at it. Park-goers could pick up boxes, look at advertisements on the walls of Diagon Alley, and really absorb the detail that went into everything.
The duo also discussed their favorite pieces to create, which were the Daily Prophet and The Marauders Map. The Daily Prophet is my absolute obsession, so I was busy snapping hundreds of pictures of all of the close-up images of the Daily Prophet and didn’t absorb much of what was said about it.
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As far as the Marauders Map, they really reiterated how they wanted to pump the personality of the characters who created the map into their design. It wasn’t about their personal design aesthetic, it was about bringing authenticity to the object. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were crafty and intelligent, and they wanted the map to be a reflection of those qualities.
The map was drawn BY HAND based off of architectural maps that had been created for the set. The hand drawings were scanned in and developed into what you see on film. When the map was  first created, there was a small mistake on it. They had included the Room of Requirement. Someone on the team realized that the room was not supposed to appear on the map, and went back through the whole process to take the room out.
After the graphic design panel, Amy and I headed over to the other park where the Harry Potter Expo was located. After chatting with some people at the design panel, we learned there was a wall covered in Daily Prophets at the expo and we had to check it out. We went first to Diagon Alley and had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, complete with a Dragon Scale beer, and (it is our tradition on every visit) we sat on the stoop of the Daily Prophet office and took a photo.
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We didn’t have to wait very long to get into the expo, though it was pretty crowded. We caught a glimpse of people being sorted into houses by the sorting hat on the way in. 
The expo wasn’t quite as large as we were expecting. There was a large stuffed Fluffy you could take photos with, and a large Fawkes perched from the ceiling. A giant Lego replica of Hogwarts and some other movie props were on display. A wall blank wall was available for fans to write “What Harry Potter means to you.”
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There was a booth handing out posters of the cover of the illustrated Sorcerer’s Stone, and a place to take a Quidditch themed photo. At the Pottermore booth, there was a large map of the new wizarding schools around the world. [Click to enlarge photo]
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Minalima had a booth set up as well, which was where the Daily Prophet wall was. Amy and I took about 394 photos in front of it. Mira Mina and Eduardo Lima were there signing prints they had for sale. They also had a spread of some of the movie props they had designed, such as a copy of Advanced Potion Making, a stack of Qibblers, and pamphlets on “When Muggles Attack.”
There was a cool display of school letters hanging from the ceiling and trailing on the floor, that was previously featured in their gallery exhibit last month. The graphic designer in me was overjoyed.
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There was a studio tour at the expo as well, but the line was incredibly long so Amy and I decided to skip it. And it was lucky we did, because when we left we realized the cast Q&A panel had just begun nearby. We stood towards the back of the crowd, but we still could not believe we were actually seeing the cast answer questions. We had no expectations going into the day of even catching a glimpse of them, so it was an awesome surprise.
Overall the day was amazing. There had been a lot more to do and see over the whole weekend, but we were completely happy with the little bit we got to experience. Maybe next time we’ll try and see more of the events – I highly recommend making a visit!
Chelsea took video of the Q&A that took place in the early afternoon. This cast Q&A was not live streamed, exclusive for those at the celebration. A similar cast Q&A that night was made available on live stream. In this clip the actors talk about their fears and if they have conquered them. The topic of spiders led to asking Rupert to rap, but Matt came to Rupert’s rescue with his own spider story. Apparently Matt is more afraid of spiders than Rupert, and no he definitely has not overcome that fear.

 

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6. More Exclusive Cast Interviews from ‘A Celebration of Harry Potter’!

Huffington Post and Hollywood Life have recently published two cast interviews with Matt Lewis, Rupert Grint, Evanna Lynch and Katie Leung following A Celebration of Harry Potter.

Rupert Grint thinks Hermione and Ron would be separated (if not divorced), none of them would overlook a role in Star Wars, and Rupert thinks Cursed Child made a huge mistake.

First up is Huff Post, and their representative really got the cast talking, giving a great introduction about the importance of breaking out of viewing these great actors as their characters:

“What I enjoy as I sit down to speak with the group is how much these adults are unlike their characters (except for maybe Lynch, who is still delightfully Luna Lovegood-esque). It seems obvious, but we’ve such a tendency to want to lock actors into their iconic roles. It is challenge breaking out of that, especially when you’re remembered as being a cute, or awkward, or weird, or chubby kid on screen. Yet each has grown up, and gone on to other acting gigs and new pursuits.”

This interview gave a broad sweep of the actor’s opinions on Fantastic Beasts, their characters, further roles in big franchises and more!

On giving advice to Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child cast members: 

Matt Lewis: I don’t know how much advice I could ever give anyone. The people who have been cast, as far as I’m aware of, are very, very experienced. They don’t need any advice from me. But I guess just enjoy it. It has been a hell of an experience for me, and everything associated with it: the people, the fans, the environment. It was a good gig to be on! Just enjoy it because there’s nothing else like it, literally in the world. It is unique.

Rupert Grint: I think it’s going to be a very different film, I think. I don’t know much about it, but as Matthew said, just enjoy it. Go with the flow.

Evanna Lynch: I’d say trust David Yates, as well. He always knows better on the film. Sometimes I would go, “Oh, I’m doing terrible, I’m messing up.” He would come along and suggest something tiny, and it would change everything. He is very clever. And he is the one who has transitioned from one to the other. He has the whole picture.

On involving themselves in any large-scale productions again:

Q: This was very much your childhood, and your job growing up. If you had the opportunity now to enter another franchise that would consume multiple years – like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars – would you be reluctant to join that production?

A:

Lynch: No. I loved it. I love the family feel, and the idea you can get deeper into your character over a year. I have been on films that were just three or five weeks, and sometimes I’ve been like, damn, I’d only just started to get into it. It was nice to have something you could develop it, and learn and grow alongside your character. And I just loved the family thing. I got very comfortable there.

Lewis: Hey, if Star Wars come knocking on the door tomorrow, I’m not going to go, “Um no, guys, I’m sorry, I don’t want to do four films, it’s fine.” No, of course not. I’d think about it, and I love Star Wars, etc. But there would definitely be a bit of trepidation in joining a big franchise again for that amount of time. Just simply because I’m really enjoying the diversity of the roles I’ve been given recently. Playing a character is great, but I love the process of finding someone, finding a character, creating and drawing it up. And trying to figure out what makes that person tick. When you do something for however many years, it can start to become – I don’t want to say mundane because it was never boring on the films. But you kind of lose that spark a little bit you get in that first day of school, or on a new job. It is exciting. And I’ve gotten that so often in the last couple years, I’d be reluctant to give that up.

Leung: I kind of agree with Matt. If it goes on for any longer than a certain period of time, you do get really comfortable and feel very safe. Having done all the projects after Potter, it has been a few weeks, a few months for a project. You do really get to know a character, and it is wonderful knowing that, once you stop filming or being on stage and being that character, it essentially dies. So I quite like that. Of course, it depends who the character is you’re going to be playing. But yeah, if it’s Star Wars …

Lewis: Star Wars is welcomed.

Grint: I don’t know. I don’t think it’s put me off. There’s pros and cons. Harry Potter could be at times quite suffocating. It did take up our whole lives. So yeah, I suppose there would be tiny bit of reluctance. Now that I’m out of it, I can see beyond it and it’s nice to have a real life, and do things you want. There’s a lot of freedom in that. But yeah, I think it all depends on the material.

Who knows – maybe a role as another Resistance pilot, or as a key character to unveiling Rey’s mysterious past will come up. Make it happen, Disney!

The Huff Post representative also asked where they’d like to think their Potter characters will be in the future.

As we know, Ron and Hermione were married with two children (Rose and Hugo) at Nineteen Years Later, all of whom attended the 427th Quidditch World Cup in 2014. Ron and Hermione’s relationship seems to be going well – that is, unless you take Rupert Grint’s word for it:

Grint: [laughs] I would expect Ron has probably divorced Hermione already. I don’t think that relationship would have done very well.

Lynch: What?!

Like living in his own, low-rent bachelor pad?

Grint: Yeah. Exactly. He’s living on his own, in a little one-bedroom apartment. He hasn’t got a job.

Lynch: Don’t say divorced. Say they’ve split up. They can reconcile.

Grint: Yeah, they’re briefly separated.

Ron is on Tinder doing horribly…

Grint: Yeah!

Lewis: Living in a one-bedroom studio apartment all alone, doing nothing. He lives in Kings Cross, right in that area.

Evanna took a more career-related view for Luna, and we can definitely see this happening:

Lynch: I think Luna would have an adventure documentary series. She becomes a naturalist, and I think she’d travel the world and have a show. I could be a wildlife narrator.

Like a David Attenborough of the wizard world?

Lynch: Yeah, and she would prove all her creatures exist. Everyone is so dubious of her, and I’d like her to show they’re real.

Anybody else want this to become a mini-series?!

Katie Leung had aspirations for her character – we love her no-nonsense view of Cho:

Katie Leung: I reckon Cho would probably have become a really successful entrepreneur, and really cold and ruthless.

Lynch: Oh my god! [laughs]

[Interviewer] I like this. 

Leung: Yeah, she’s cried all the tears she could cry, and now she’s become real cold and heartless.

Lewis: This is dark! I love this!

[Interviewer] What kind of entrepreneur? She runs a tech company? Or a developer who tears down bachelor pads like Ron’s?

Leung: Yeah, yeah, that! Exactly.

Lynch: Oh…

Matthew Lewis bases his on information he received from J.K. Rowling herself, and even works Rupert’s view of Ron into his vision:

Lewis: Oh god. Neville works at the school, right? So he’s a professor, just enjoying that. Maybe he’s trying to get Ron a job, man. And he keeps throwing it back in his face, like, “I don’t need your help, Neville; Jesus, just leave it.” And I’m like, “Come on, it’s fine, we’ll sort it out, just trying to get you back into the fold.” Yeah, him and Hermione don’t see eye to eye because I’ve taken Ron’s side in the relationship, obviously. They’ve got everyone split off, friends wise. I don’t know who you guys chose? Did you choose Hermione?

Lynch: Ron!

Leung: No, Ron.

Lewis: Are you Ron as well? Jeez, Hermione is thin on the ground with friends!

Leung: Well, I’ll go with Hermione, then.

Lynch: I think Ron would need more help. Hermione would handle herself better.

Grint: Yeah, he’s in a bad way.

[Interviewer] But Ron could have a job as a replacement for Mr. Filch

Grint: Yeah!

Lewis: Yeah, I’ll get you in as the caretaker of the school, man. We’ll sort it out. Don’t worry about it.

Grint: Just get me out there. Just get me out of the house.

Lynch: And we’ll get you back together.

Read the full interview here!

Hollywood Life‘s interview focussed on J.K. Rowling’s newest endeavour: Cursed Child. Rupert Grint thinks they’ve made a huge mistake!:

“Um yeah, I think they made a huge mistake in not casting me,” 

He reportedly said, but of course he was joking – we’re all sure Paul Thornley is going to do an amazing job!

 “No, no. I think it’s going to amazing, that it’s going on, and I can’t wait to see it.”

In a similar vein to his interview with MTV, Matthew Lewis spoke about feeling like his role as Neville was complete:

“I feel like the story arch that Jo wrote and that we tried our best to put on screen was a complete one,”

“I took that journey and finished it the way I wanted to. He will always hold a fun place in my heart, but I don’t feel like there is more that I can do with Neville. I’m happy to leave him.”

Evanna Lynch, however, has something to say about not being cast!:

“I don’t feel that way at all …  As happy as I am that they are exploring the universe and that there are new stories in the universe, I’m so angry I’m not a part of it…100% I’d go back and do more.”

Read the full Hollywood Life interview here

So there you have it – Evanna will soon be portraying a Resistance Pilot, the Wizarding World’s very own David Attenborough, and a West End star (kidding, unfortunately). 

You can read more about cast interviews from A Celebration of Harry Potter here and here!

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7. NYCC 2014: Valiant announces exclusives, signings and vinyl!

Valiant will be set up at NYCC at booth #2028 with exclusives and signings by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Fred van Lente,  Michael Walsh, Robert Venditti, Robert Gill and Paolo Rivera. They also will have an exclusive X-O Manowar toy!

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From Thursday, October 9th through Sunday, October 12th, join Valiant at Booth #2028 inside the Javits Center in midtown Manhattan to shop a brand new selection of NYCC-exclusive offerings – including the limited edition X-O Manowar Urban Vinyl Figure by CKRTLAB Toys! The first in a new line of Valiant Urban Vinyl figures set to debut in 2015, the first-ever X-O Manowar stands 5.5 inches tall with 6 points of articulation and comes enhanced with a luster-rich metallic finish, “lightning sword” weapon accessory, and collectible packaging that is perfect for display.

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Plus: pick up the X-O MANOWAR #0 NYCC Exclusive Variant, featuring an all-new cover by rising starMichael Walsh (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, Secret Avengers)! Jump on board here and discover the untold origins of Valiant’s armored Visigoth hero with Valiant’s latest essential zero issue by acclaimed creators Robert Venditti and Clay Mann!

And that’s not all – look for signings and appearances all weekend long from some of Valiant’s biggest talents, including Robert Gill (ARMOR HUNTERS: HARBINGER), Jeff Lemire (THE VALIANT), Matt Kindt (THE VALIANT, RAI, UNITY), Paolo Rivera (THE VALIANT), Michael Walsh (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG), Fred Van Lente (THE DELINQUENTS, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG), Robert Venditti(X-O MANOWAR, ARMOR HUNTERS), and many more!

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Then, on Friday, October 10th at 12:15 PM, join an all-star panel of guests for the VALIANT COMICS: THE VALIANT, RAI, X-O MANOWAR AND BEYOND panel presentation! This winter, superstar creators Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera launch the year’s most anticipated new series withTHE VALIANT…but what happens next? Find out here as Jeff Lemire (THE VALIANT), Matt Kindt(THE VALIANT, RAI, UNITY), Paolo Rivera (THE VALIANT), Fred Van Lente (THE DELINQUENTS, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG), Robert Venditti (X-O MANOWAR), Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons, and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani lead off an exclusive round of news and announcements, right here at New York Comic-Con! Plus: RAI, X-O MANOWAR, UNITY, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, QUANTUM AND WOODY, and much, much more!

And the action continues on Saturday, October 8th at 8 PM as Valiant brings the superstar creative team behind THE VALIANTJeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera – to New York’s famous St. Marks Comics for an exclusive post-show signing, featuring free THE VALIANT: FIRST LOOK preview editions, and more!

0 Comments on NYCC 2014: Valiant announces exclusives, signings and vinyl! as of 10/2/2014 3:43:00 PM
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8. NYCC ’14: Dark Horse announces exclusives

Games of Thrones, Elder SCrolls, Comix Book, and more. YOu can see the whole list in more detail here but here’s a sneak peek. unnamed1 NYCC 14: Dark Horse announces exclusives

1 Comments on NYCC ’14: Dark Horse announces exclusives, last added: 10/7/2014
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9. SDCC ’15 Exclusive Funko Toy Announcements

By Nick Eskey

Funko, the company best known for their “POP!” line of figurines, will be releasing a plethora (great word huh?) of Comic Con exclusives this year. A new list of additions will be released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until June 29th, so make sure you check back for the latest news.

This year to the pleasure of some Con-goers, and dismay of others (especially resellers), Funko is not offering a pre-buy option. So those who want these hot toys better fight for their lives.

Without further ado, here’s a peak of what’s in store so far:

Pop! Movies: Penguins of Madagascar - Cheesy Skipper

Pop! Movies: Penguins of Madagascar – Cheesy Skipper

If you love those little black and white flightless birds of the Madagascar movies, this Cheesy Skipper is waiting for you. Complete with a bag of their favorite “cheezy dibbles,” this leader of the covert penguin group also is sporting a cheese flavor-dust motif.

Pop! Marvel: Ant-Man - Black Out Ant-Man

Pop! Marvel: Ant-Man – Black Out Ant-Man

Just in time for Marvel’s newest movie, Ant-Man makes the scene equipped with his black and red power suit. Get him before he shrinks out of sight.

Pop! Disney: Big Hero 6 - 6" Baymax Unmasked

Pop! Disney: Big Hero 6 – 6″ Baymax Unmasked

Need a personal healthcare companion who also knows how to kick major butt? This 6 inch Baymax Unmasked is your man. Err… robot. Don’t let this super-sized lover of hugs get passed you. Just look at those giant eyes!

Pop! Hanna-Barbera: Lil' Gruesome (Green)

Pop! Hanna-Barbera: Lil’ Gruesome (Green)

Hannah-Barbera cartoons have a place in animated history. This little blood sucker, affectionately named Lil’ Gruesome, is from the “Wacky Races” series. Changing it up from his normal purple to a truly gruesome green, this monster will be racing straight to Comic Con.

ReAction: Terminator 2 - T1000 with Hole in Head

ReAction: Terminator 2 – T1000 with Hole in Head

What’s better than an Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator? A shape-shifting cop Terminator! From Terminator 2, we have this somewhat posable T1000 figure reminiscent of the toys sold in stores in the 70’s and early 80’s. Adding to the cool factor is the hole in the head from one of the movie’s most famous scenes.

Hikari: Universal Monsters - Antique Verdigris Metaluna Mutant

Hikari: Universal Monsters – Antique Verdigris Metaluna Mutant

And last on our Monday reveal list is this gem from classic Japanese cinema. This Metaluna Mutant is packaged in a black and gold box and limited to 500, so it’ll be a must get for all exclusive toy collectors.

Stay tuned and check back for our Wednesday reveal!

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10. *Sunday UPDATE* SDCC ’15 Exclusive Funko Toy Announcements

By Nick Eskey

Thanks for tuning in geeky guys and gals to this Sunday update of SDCC ’15 Funko toy release. Better known for their “POP!” line, Funko strives to “cover as many beloved licenses and characters as possible to remind every Comic-Con attendee why they fell in love with these stories in the first place.”

Just as a reminder, this year Funko will not be taking pre-buys of their products. So if there’s any of these exclusive toys that you want to get, best to get them onsite or see if a lucky con-goer buddy will help you out.

Without further delay, here’s the addition to our list:

Pop! Disney/Pixar: Inside Out - Sparkle Hair Joy

Pop! Disney/Pixar: Inside Out – Sparkle Hair Joy

Disney’s Pixar, which arguably can be thanked for the recent revival of the Disney brand, has just recently released their newest movie “Inside out.” Involving the personified personality traits in people, this Pop figure from the movie features Sparkle Hair Joy. Don’t work, there’s enough anger and depression in the film to balance this perpetually happy and hyperactive lady.

Pop! TV: Sesame Street - 6" Flocked Mr. Snuffleupagus

Pop! TV: Sesame Street – 6″ Flocked Mr. Snuffleupagus

Whether he’s being an imaginary character that only a large yellow bird can see, or a real thing, this 6 inch super sized Snuffleupagus from the much beloved Sesame Street will be materializing to Comic-Con. Who doesn’t want to own a Snuffy?

Pop! TV: Once Upon A Time - Regina

Pop! TV: Once Upon A Time – Regina

Once upon a time, there was a toy who wanted nothing but to rule. Now with your help, this Regina from the Once Upon a Time series can rule your figure collection. And look, she’s got an apple for you too as a gift. How thoughtful!

ReAction: Arrow - Arrow Unmasked

ReAction: Arrow – Arrow Unmasked

Protecting your crime riddled shelves is this ReAction Arrow Unmasked. Complete with 1970’s style packaging and limited posable action, this fantastic plastic will be a must have.

Dorbz XL: Guardians of the Galaxy - 6" Mossy Groot

Dorbz XL: Guardians of the Galaxy – 6″ Mossy Groot

Guarding the galaxy is a big job. Thankfully, this Dorbz XL Mossy Groot is the humanoid plant you’ll be wanting for the job. Featuring a healthy growth of 6 inches, this happy creature will keep everything happily dancing along.

Dorbz XL: Guardians of the Galaxy - 6" Nova Suit Rocket Raccoon

Dorbz XL: Guardians of the Galaxy – 6″ Nova Suit Rocket Raccoon

And lastly, the big wooded Groot can’t go too far without his furry compadre. Dorbz XL Nova Suit Rocket Raccoon will be providing 6 inches of vinyl sharp tongued humor to your collection. Despite his gruff exterior, look how cute he is!

Thanks for tuning in, and see you fellow nerds for our next installment. Stay tuned!

0 Comments on *Sunday UPDATE* SDCC ’15 Exclusive Funko Toy Announcements as of 6/21/2015 11:56:00 PM
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11. SDCC ’15: IDW Publishing Announces a Bevy of Exclusives

Today, IDW sent out a press release announcing the San Diego Comic Con 2015 exclusives.  In an interesting move, attendees will actually be able to preorder some of these exclusives from the IDW website for pickup at the con, hopefully reducing the amount of time you spend in their line and thus giving you more time to spend in somebody else’s queue.  #linecon2015

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ARTIST’S EDITIONS

Jack Kirby Kamandi Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Jack Kirby’s most beloved creation is now an extraordinary Artist’s Edition, collecting six complete issues ofKamandi! There is no better way to view the magic of King Kirby than in the one and only Artist’s Edition. Pick up the debut of the convention variant early while supplies last!
$100, Limited to 100 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1GxgYuC


Mike Zeck’s Classic Marvel Stories Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Mike Zeck is one of the classic artists of the 1980s, at the forefront of many of the best books and in demand by fans and editors alike. This unique Artist’s Edition showcases some of Zeck’s finest works, including full issues and an array of his finest covers! This convention variant features Captain America and Wolverine squaring off!
$125, Limited to 125 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1Gb5fiN


Frank Miller’s Daredevil Artifact Edition Convention Variant
Frank Miller, multiple Eisner Award-winner, is one of the finest and most influential comics creators of his generation. From Sin City to Dark Knight Returns, to Daredevil: Born Again and Batman: Year One (both of which he wrote and collaborated on with David Mazzucchelli), his contribution to the art form is nearly peerless. But before these incredible works came his groundbreaking turn on Daredevil! This convention exclusive boasts a stunning variant cover by Miller featuring Daredevil and Black Widow.
$100, Limited to 175 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BBI5WI


Eric Powell’s The Goon: China Town Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Since debuting in 1999, The Goon has won constant critical praise as well as a large and rabid fan base for creator Eric Powell. This beautiful Artist’s Edition features Powell’s Goon original graphic novel, Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker, the opus that earned the writer/artist two Eisner Awards! Variant cover only available at the IDW booth.
$100, Limited to 100 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1dVhHvz


Walter Simonson’s Manhunter & Other Stories Artist’s Edition, Remarqued
Manhunter by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson was one of the most acclaimed series of the 1970s, winning numerous awards along the way—not bad for a backup feature that only ran seven episodes! This Artist’s Edition presents the original run of Manhunter, as well as a classic Batman story, Dr. Fate, Metal Men, and Captain Fear tales. This very limited edition variant is signed & remarqued by Walter Simonson and is numbered as one of a limited edition of 50 copies.
$250, Limited to 50 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BtlFXi


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DISNEY COMICS

Don Rosa’s The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Debuting at San Diego Comic-Con, Don Rosa’s Eisner-award winning work on The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck gets the Artist’s Edition treatment with a special convention exclusive cover with Scrooge hitting pay dirt!
$125, Limited to 100 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1kGVMUL


Donald Duck #1 Convention Variant
Donald, Mickey, and Goofy head to a comic convention of their own on this special variant cover by Derek Charm.
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

Mickey Mouse #1 Convention Variant
Donald, Mickey, and Goofy’s adventure at a comic convention continues on this special exclusive cover with art by Derek Charm.
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

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IDW HIT TITLES

Ghostbusters: Get Real #1 Convention Variant
It’s the ultimate Ghostbusters team-up on this convention exclusive cover to the new series Ghostbusters: Get Real! With art by Dan Schoening, this is one exclusive you’ll want to catch early!
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

Godzilla in Hell #1 Convention Variant
James Stokoe returns to Godzilla and drags him straight to Hell! This convention exclusive cover features Stokoe’s hyper-detailed work on a special wraparound cover!
$10, Limited to 200 copies, 3 per person

Jem & The Holograms #1 Convention Variant
SHOWTIME, SYNERGY! Meet Jerrica Benton—a girl with a secret. She and her sister Kimber team with two friends to become… JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS! An all-new cover featuring Pizzaz by Amy Mebbersongraces this convention exclusive!
$5, Limited to 200 copies, 3 per person
A Blank Sketch Cover also available!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person



Onyx #1 Convention Variant
A star-born knight for a new generation takes flight here! Get your convention exclusive copy signed by creators Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez at the booth!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Star Trek/ Green Lantern #1 Convention Variant
The biggest crossover in the galaxy debuts at Comic-Con! Don’t miss this exclusive convention variant byFreddie E. Williams III featuring the Green Lantern Corps and the Enterprise crew side-by-side!
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

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TRANSFORMERS

Transformers #42 Convention Variant
The Combiner Wars are over, but the fallout has just begun! Don’t miss out on this convention exclusive bySara Pitre-Durocher featuring Arcee that connects to More Than Meets the Eye #42 and Windblade #4!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #42 Convention Variant
The quest for the Knights of Cybertron reaches a new epoch! Chromia and the Lost Light are featured on this convention exclusive edition by Sara Pitre-Durocher that connects to Transformers #42 and Windblade #4!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3per person

Transformers: Windblade #4 Convention Variant
Windblade heads into battle on this variant cover by Sara Pitre-Durocher that connects to Transformers #42 and More Than Meets the Eye #42!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Transformers: Combiner Hunters #1 Convention Variant
Spinning out of the explosive Combiner Wars arc, the Combiner Hunters face off against their first great threat on this convention exclusive cover by Sara Pitre-Durocher!
$10, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Get $5 off when you buy all four issues together! $20 total.

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TURTLES & PONIES

Casey & April #1 Convention Variant
Morning Glories artist Joe Eisma suits up Casey & April on this convention exclusive cover of the debut issue written by Comic-Con special guest Mariko Tamaki!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #44 SIGNED Convention Variant
Only available at SDCC, a set of first printings of the issue that had the whole world talking! This issue comes pre-signed by none other than Kevin Eastman!
$40 a set (Cover A & B), Limited to 50 copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1I3SEmv


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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #32 Convention Variant
“Night of the Living Apples,” Part 1! Bad apples have come alive and determined to take over all of Ponyville! Don’t miss the exclusive cover by Tony Fleecs done in the EC Cover tradition!
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

My Little Pony: Fiendship is Magic TP Convention Variant
This collection of the entire mini-series boosts a special convention variant featuring a cover with the iconic villains of Equestria by Thom Zahler.
$25, Limited to 100 copies, 3 per person

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HARDCOVER COLLECTIONS

Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland HC Convention Variant
Get your convention exclusive copy of the three time Eisner-nominated, all-ages series featuring a special Black & White variant cover by series artist Gabriel Rodriguez!
$30, Limited to 200 copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BBIrwg


Locke & Key Vol. 1 Master Edition HC Convention Variant
The critically acclaimed series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez takes on new life in a reformatted hardcover collection which features the first two arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames,” with a special Black & White variant cover.
$50, Limited to 250 copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1fmRC9V


Bacchus Omnibus HC Convention Variant
Only available at the Top Shelf booth #1721, Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus is a true epic, spanning a decade of work, over a thousand pages, and several millennia of alcohol consumption. This convention exclusive hardcover comes signed and numbered by Campbell!
$75, Limited to 250 Copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1Ipf4KA


Complete Essex County Hardcover – SHOW DEBUT
Top Shelf is celebrating the award-winning masterpiece that made Jeff Lemire a household name with the convention debut of the Essex County hardcover. This elegant, foil-stamped slipcase edition features an exclusive letterpress bookplate signed & numbered by the author! Don’t miss the chance to get a deluxe version of this intimate study of an eccentric farming community and a tender meditation on family, memory, grief, secrets, reconciliation — and hockey.
$75, Limited to 500 Copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BBIF6S
Also available with a sketch!
$150, Limited to 50 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1Gb5zOB





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A CARD GAME
Making its show debut, the card game based off the acclaimed series CHEW from John Layman and Rob Guillory. Anyone who buys the CHEW card game at SDCC will get a free exclusive bonus pack containing two playable Chog Frappe cards and five variant green Chogs.

0 Comments on SDCC ’15: IDW Publishing Announces a Bevy of Exclusives as of 6/22/2015 3:10:00 PM
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12. *WEDNESDAY UPDATE* SDCC ’15 Exclusive Funko Toy Announcements

By: Nick Eskey

It’s that time again, legion of toy lovers; The Wednesday update for the Funko toy exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con 2015.

Well known for their super popular POP! Toy collection, Funko strives to “cover as many beloved licenses and characters as possible to remind every Comic-Con attendee why they fell in love with these stories in the first place.” As a reminder, there will be no pre-buy option available this year. So if you need or want any of these beauties, best to pick them up at the Funko booth, or see if you can bribe a random person (we do not condone the practice of bribery).

Not to hold out any longer, here are the latest additions:

Pop! Star Wars: Princess Leia [Boushh Unmasked]

Pop! Star Wars: Princess Leia [Boushh Unmasked]

Though not one of her better remembered ensemble, this Star Wars Princess Leia [Boushh Unmasked] POP! is still pretty fetching. You’ll wish this bounty hunter was looking for you.

Pop! Marvel: Avengers: Age of Ultron - Grinning Ultron

Pop! Marvel: Avengers: Age of Ultron – Grinning Ultron

Just when you thought you saw every scary robot to date, this Grinning Ultron decidedly takes the cake. We don’t know why he’s so happy, but let’s hope we never find out. He’s sure to give a few nightmares.

Pop! Hanna-Barbera: Lil' Gruesome (Red)

Pop! Hanna-Barbera: Lil’ Gruesome (Red)

Before we know it, we’ll have an army of these Lil’ Gruesome figurines in a rainbow of colors. Joining his green and yellow brothers, this Red Hannah-Barbera character is my favorite so far.

Pop! Marvel: Guardians of the Galaxy - Nova Rocket with Potted Groot

Pop! Marvel: Guardians of the Galaxy – Nova Rocket with Potted Groot

At the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, did you find yourself a little misty eyed? No? Just me? Well… I’m sure this Nova Rocket with Potted Groot will find a way to tug at those heartstrings.

ReAction: Terminator 2 - T1000 with Hook Arms

ReAction: Terminator 2 – T1000 with Hook Arms

Any machine that can become liquid, a solid, or take the shape of any person is pretty sweet. This T1000 figure from the Terminator 2 movie is sporting his kick-butt Hook Arms, as well as vintage-esque packaging from when toys were simpler than the crazy articulated ones of today.

Vinyl Idolz: Ghostbusters - Marshmallowed Egon Spengler

Vinyl Idolz: Ghostbusters – Marshmallowed Egon Spengler

And lastly, this Vinyl Idolz from the Ghost Busters movie is a gooey exclusive. Marshmallowed Egon Spengler comes with his ghost containment pack, ghost detector, and white marshmallow splotches. I hope that stuff can come out in the wash.

As we’re getting closer and closer to San Diego Comic-Con, expect a few more toy leaks on the way. Stay tuned doers of all things nerdy!

0 Comments on *WEDNESDAY UPDATE* SDCC ’15 Exclusive Funko Toy Announcements as of 1/1/1900
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13. The Great Big Harry Potter Fansite Interview: Leaky’s Q&A with Harry Potter Illustrator Jim Kay

Today, October 6, Bloomsbury is publishing the first illustrated edition of the Harry Potter books–Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is hitting shelves in stores near you. As a part of publication celebrations, illustrator Jim Kay agreed to participate in Q&A sessions with major Harry Potter news sites, calling it The Great Big Harry Potter Fansite Interview. The Leaky Cauldron was honored with the opportunity to be apart of this event.

The Leaky staff came together to create and ask Kay four specific questions that we thought fans might like answered, and questions that Kay had not yet answered in previous interviews or Q&As. Jim Kay took the time, between drawing illustrations for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, to answer two of each site’s questions, and send never-before-seen images from Philosopher’s Stone. Please see the images and the interview below!

 

The Great Big Harry Potter Fansite Interview

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Were you influenced by previous Harry Potter illustrators/the films or did you veer away from both?(Alwaysjkrowling.com)

I’m a huge fan of both the books and the films. I thought the screen adaptations were a wonderful showcase of the best set design, product design, costume, casting, directing and acting their disciplines had to offer. I knew from the start that I’m competing to some degree with the hundreds of people involved in the visuals of the film. I remember watching the extras that come with the movie DVDs a few years back, and wondering how on earth you’d get to be lucky enough to work on the visuals for such a great project. To be offered the opportunity to design the whole world again from scratch was fantastic, but very daunting. I’d like to think that over the years lots of illustrators will have a crack at Potter, in the same way that Alice in Wonderland has seen generations of artists offer their own take on Lewis Carroll’s novel. I had to make it my version though, and so from the start I needed to set it apart from the films. I’ll be honest I’ve only seen a few illustrations from other Potter books, so that’s not been so much of a problem. I love Jonny Duddle’s covers, and everyone should see Andrew Davidson’s engravings – they are incredible!

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What was the most important detail for you to get right with your illustrations? (Magical Menagerie)

To try and stay faithful to the book. It’s very easy when you are scribbling away to start wandering off in different directions, so you must remind yourself to keep reading Jo’s text. Technically speaking though, I think composition is important –the way the movement and characters arrange themselves on the page – this dictates the feel of the book.

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What medium do you use to create your illustrations? (Snitchseeker)

I use anything that makes a mark –I am not fussy. So I don’t rely on expensive watercolour or paints, although I do occasionally use them – I like to mix them up with cheap house paint, or wax crayons. Sometimes in a local DIY store I’ll see those small tester pots of wall paint going cheap in a clear-out sale, and I’ll buy stacks of them, and experiment with painting in layers and sanding the paint back to get nice textures. The line is almost always pencil, 4B or darker, but the colour can be a mixture of any old paint, watercolour, acrylic, and oil. Diagon Alley was unusual in that I digitally coloured the whole illustration in order to preserve the pencil line drawing. I’d recommend experimenting; there is no right or wrong way to make an illustration, just do what works for you!

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Because each book is so rich in detail, what is your personal process when choosing specific images?(The Daily Snitcher)

I read the book, then read it again and again, making notes. You start off with lots of little ideas, and draw a tiny thumbnail illustration, about the size of a postage stamp, to remind you of the idea for an illustration you had while reading the book. I then start to draw them a little bigger, about postcard size, and show them to Bloomsbury. We then think about how many illustrations will appear in each chapter, and try to get the balance of the book right by moving pictures around, dropping or adding these rough drawings as we go. With Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Bloomsbury were great in that they let me try all sorts of things out, different styles, concepts. Some I didn’t think would get into the final book, but everyone was very open to new ideas. There was no definite plan with regards to how the book would look; we just experimented and let it evolve.

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(McGonagall is from Telegraph’s photos)

Given the distinct split of younger vs. more mature readers of the series, how do you construct your illustrations so that they can appeal to both audiences at once? (Mugglenet)

The simple answer is I don’t try. I think only about the author and myself. You can’t please everyone, particularly when you know how many people have read the book. I don’t think good books are made by trying to appeal to a wide audience. You just try to do the best work you can in the time given, and respect the author’s work. Most illustrators are never happy with their own work. You always feel you want to try more combinations or alternative compositions. You are forever in search of that golden illustration that just ‘works’, but of course it’s impossible to achieve –there will always be another way of representing the text. Effectively you chase rainbows until you run out of time! You get a gut feeling if an image is working. I remember what I liked as a child (Richard Scarry books!). Detail and humour grabbed me as a nipper, and it’s the same now I’m in my forties.

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Did you base any characters or items in the book on real people or things? (Leaky Cauldron)

Lots of the book is based on real places, people and experiences. It helps to make the book personal to me, and therefore important. The main characters of the books are based on real people, partly for practical reasons, because I need to see how the pupils age over seven years. In Diagon Alley in particular, some of the shop names are personal to me. As a child we had a toad in the garden called Bufo (from the latin Bufo bufo), Noltie’s Botanical Novelties is named after a very clever friend of mine who works at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. The shop called ‘Tut’s Nuts’ is a little joke from my days working at Kew Gardens; they had in their collections some seeds from the tomb of Tutankhamun, which were affectionately known as ‘Tut’s Nuts’. The imprisoned boy reaching for an apple in Brigg’s Brooms is from a drawing my friend did when we were about 9 years old –that’s thirty two years ago!

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Which character was the most difficult to draw? (Harry Potter’s Page)

Harry, without a doubt. Children are difficult to draw because you can’t use too many lines around the eyes and face, otherwise they look old. One misplaced pencil line can age a child by years, so you have to get it just right. Also Harry’s glasses are supposed to look repaired and bent out of shape, which I’ve found tricky to get right.

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What is your favourite scene you have illustrated? (Alwaysjkrowling.com)

That’s a difficult one. I’m fond of the ghosts. I paint them in reverse (almost like a photographic negative) and layer several paintings to make them translucent. I enjoyed Nearly Headless Nick. I really enjoyed illustrating the trolls too. Your favourite illustrations tend to be the ones that gave you the least amount of difficulties and I think Diagon Alley was nice for this reason. It was more like a brainstorming exercise, slowly working from left to right. My favourite character to illustrate is Hagrid – I love big things!

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Are there any hidden messages/items in your drawings for the Harry Potter series? (Magical Menagerie)

There are, but they are little things that relate to my life, so I’m not sure how much sense they’d make to other people. I like to include my dog in illustrations if I can (he’s in Diagon Alley). I also put a hare in my work, for good luck. There’s a hare in A Monster Calls, and in Harry Potter. My friends appear as models for the characters in book one, and some of their names too can be seen carved on a door, and on Diagon Alley. There are little references to later books too, such as on the wrought-iron sign of the Leaky Cauldron. I do it to keep things interesting for me while I’m drawing.

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How did you approach illustrating the Hogwarts Castle and grounds? (Harry Potter Fan Zone)

I really enjoyed doing this. You have to go through all seven books looking for mentions of the individual rooms, turrets, doors and walls of the castle, and make lots of notes. Then you check for mentions of its position, for example if you can see the sun set from a certain window, to find out which way the castle is facing. I then built a small model out of scrap card and Plasticine and tried lighting it from different directions. It was important to see how it would look in full light, or as a silhouette. Then it was a long process of designing the Great Hall, and individual towers. I have a huge number of drawings just experimenting with different doorways, roofs. Some early compositions were quite radical, then I hit upon the idea of trees growing under, through and over the whole castle, as if the castle had grown out of the landscape. This also gives me the opportunity to show trees growing through the inside of some rooms in future illustrations.

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What illustrations in the book are you most proud of? (Leaky Cauldron)

Usually it’s the ones that took the least amount of effort! It takes me so many attempts to get an illustration to work, that if one works on the second or third attempt, it’s a big relief. There is one illustration in the book that worked first time (a chapter opener of Hogwarts architecture, with birds nesting on the chimney pots). It kind of felt wrong that the illustration was done without agonising over it for days, it didn’t feel real somehow, so I’m proud of that one because it’s so rare that I get an image to work first time! The only other illustration that was relatively straightforward was the Sorting Hat. Illustrations that come a little easier tend to have a freshness about them, and I think those two feel a little bit looser than others in the book.

 

Which book do you think will be the most challenging one to illustrate? (Harry Potter’s Page)

At the minute it’s book two! I think book one I was full of adrenaline, driven by sheer terror! Book two I want to have a different feel, and that makes it challenging to start again and rethink the process.

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Is there a particular scene in the future Harry Potter books you’re excited to illustrate? (Harry Potter Fan Zone)

I’m really looking forward to painting Aragog in book two. I’m really fond of spiders – there are lots in my studio – so it’s great having reference close to hand! I’m hoping that by the Deathly Hallows we will be fully into a darker and more adult style of illustration, to reflect the perils facing Potter!

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How many illustrations did you initially do for the book, and how many of those appeared in the final edition? (Snitchseeker)

There are stacks of concept drawings that no one will ever see, such as the Hogwarts sketches, which I needed to do in order to get my head around the book. Then there are rough drawings, then rough drawings that are worked up a little more, and then it might take five or six attempts for each illustration to get it right.

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What house do you think you may have been placed in, aged 11, and would it be the same now? (Mugglenet)

I’d like to think it was Ravenclaw as a child. I was much more confident back then, and creative, plus they have an interesting house ghost in the form of the Grey Lady. These days I work hard and am loyal, so probably Hufflepuff.

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Illustrating aside, what is one thing that you love doing to express your creativity? (The Daily Snitcher)

It’s difficult to say because for the past 5 years I have worked on illustration seven days a week, every hour of the day. A few years back I started to write, and I really enjoyed that, it’s far more intimate than illustrating, and I love going over the same line and trying to hone it down to the core of what you are trying to express. My partner makes hats, and I’m very envious. It looks like wonderful fun. We have lots of designs for hats in sketchbooks. I really want to get some time to make some. I’ve always been slightly torn that I didn’t go into fashion, but my sewing is terrible. I used to play guitar a lot and write little bits of music, but that’s difficult now because my hand gets very stiff from drawing all day! The funny thing is, if I did ever get a day off, I’d just want to draw!

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This morning, J.K. Rowling invited all to check out the book and “see Harry Potter through Jim Kay’s extraordinary eyes,” and Pottermore also released their exclusive interview.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone–Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay, is now available from any book retailer near you (or online)! Happy reading and please let us know your impressions of the new version of the Harry Potter books–our favorite books!

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14. EXCLUSIVE: ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’ Returns to Warner Bros Studio Tour!

Today (12th November), The Leaky Cauldron was lucky enough to be invited along to the very special (and exclusive) opening event for the annual Hogwarts in the Snow feature at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter.

So many brilliant additions were made to the tour to make it as festive as possible, and these extra details, on top of the already amazing sets and props, made the night so much more magical.

Not only that, but the excitement of Fantastic Beasts being filmed just across the river is a comforting promise that the films aren’t over yet!

Various VIP guests attended the event, including Tom Fletcher (Mcfly), Nadiya Hussain (The Great British Bake-Off), Rod Stewart and Dynamo.

This feature is absolutely not to be missed, and if our word isn’t enough, we’re bringing you photos from the event to prove it!

As you arrive at the tour, you are greeted by the amazing Harry Potter soundtrack (giving you goosebumps before you’ve even picked up your tickets!), and Mr Weasley’s trusty old flying Ford Anglia.

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This is also where the Hogwarts in the Snow experience begins. In the centre of the foyer, surrounded the photos of the cast, is a huge snow-dusted Christmas tree:

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You are then taken through to the studio’s cinema, where you are reminded by Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint about the magic of Harry Potter, the global phenomenon it has become, and the family created over the long years the cast and crew spent growing up on set. It’s enough to make anybody teary-eyed!

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Then it’s time to enter the Great Hall. Wreaths are hung upon the beautiful doors, and statues surround the walls, giving a mere inkling of the level of detail you are to expect from the rest of the tour.

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The authentic costumes of the Hogwarts Professors greet you at the back of the hall (a luminescent Dumbledore instantly catches your eye), and the Hogwarts house uniforms surround the walls. The stone floor below your feet at this point is the original stone used in the process of filming Harry Potter!

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The Christmas trees surrounding The Great Hall, and the authentic-looking artificial festive food laid out on the huge tables, are an excellent addition to an already breathtaking set. What is best about the newer props added for this feature is the level of detail put in to make the Hall feel as homely as possible. As soon as you start to look around the room, you can appreciate exactly why the films give you that lovely nostalgic feeling of going home. The level of work put into each and every prop and costume to create the perfect atmosphere is absolutely amazing.

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From tree-toppers:

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To flaming Christmas Puddings (effects like these are produced by gas pipes running under tables and along the floor):

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To Christmas cakes and House-themed Christmas crackers and gift boxes:

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This room has it all and so much more, so make sure to stick around a while to take it all in!

Next it’s on to Production. My favourite part of this is Hair and Makeup, which giving you a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of the actors’ appearances:

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I love how the desks are laid out with wigs, latex, glue, lists, a box of ‘teeth’ and a profile photo of Bonnie Wright – just like the set is still being used. The way sets, props and departments are arranged along the tour is another of the reasons why it never fails to excite – the process of filming is so easy to imagine when you’ve got what it took right in front of you!

 

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This drinks centre-piece from the Yule Ball is another of my favourites. It looks so magical and festive!

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Another great feature is the Goblet of Fire, just past the gates to Hogwarts. The goblet sets alight and can be opened out or shut back up again. It’s mind-boggling to see the talent that goes into making some of the more technical props, and the level of detail and engineering in props like this amazes me.

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Other notable features in this area include the Fat Lady’s portrait, the Mirror of Erised (which you can take a photo in) and Hogwarts’ giant pendulum. The scale of these features is astounding, drawing attention to the care taken to achieve realistic effects.

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The Gryffindor Male Dorm Room is fully decorated, and adorned with tinsel to add to the Christmas vibe, as well as the Gryffindor Common Room looking even more festive than usual:

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thumb_DSCF4051_1024The tapestries and murals on the walls at the tour are another of the special additions to give visitors an idea of the level of detail in the film-making process. A personal favourite of mine is the Chamber of Secrets mural outside the toilets next to the Visual Effects section. It was hand painted by Andrew Williamson over the course of nine days this year (29 June – 7 July 2015):

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A few other highlights from around the set section include Making Snow and Fire tutorials:

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Dumbledore’s Office:

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The door to the Chamber of Secrets:

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And the kitchen at The Burrow:

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Then it’s on to the Visual Effects section, where you can test your skills with a wand, look at how flying effects were produced, and even have a go at flying a broom (in the snow) and the Ford Anglia yourself!

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After this, it’s time to visit the tour’s newest attraction: The Hogwarts Express!

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Considering most visitors probably will have come from London train stations to get to the tour, the replica Platform 9 and 3/4 within Kings-Cross station bears striking resemblance to the (almost) real thing.

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There is also a Railway Shop on site, and the option to have a photo inside interactive carriages of the Hogwarts Express.

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Again, the arrangement of the set to look as realistic as possible is stunning. The sweets left on seats, the costumed mannequins and trolley of sweets gives you the feeling you’re really on the Hogwarts Express (which you are!).

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I particularly liked the inverted R + L heart from Lavender Brown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Princethumb_DSCF4097_1024

 

Round the corner are the costumes of Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron in the ‘Nineteen-Years-Later’ scene on Platform 9 and 3/4, and a Graphic Design display:

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Outside in the backlot, you have the option of purchasing Butterbeer from one of only three places in the world that sell the real deal. It’s delicious, and you can also now purchase it in ice-cream form! (I’d go with both).

The Knight Bus greets you, along with other sets such as the Hogwarts Bridge, 4 Privet Drive and the Potters’ house in Godric’s Hollow.

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The ‘snow’ outside at this event really adds to the festive vibe, and makes the Potters’ House look less gloomy and more mysterious and magical than ever.

The Special Effects department is another of my favourites, giving you an insight into make-up, props and animatronics that you might never have guessed were so technical!

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Again, the arrangement of desks like they’re still being used to make the props adds a great dimension to the tour – you feel as though you’re suddenly a part of the film-making process, connecting you even more to the film series.

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When you finally approach Diagon Alley, you feel just like Harry in The Philosopher’s Stone. The shops make you want to run wild, the lighting is perfectly warm and inviting (much alike the Great Hall) and the amount of things to see is endless!

Next up is the Design department. The concept art will make you insanely jealous of the artistic ability of the people involved in the film-making process:

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The mini-figures are absolutely breath-taking. The attention to detail is impressive even in comparison to the rest of the tour – you can really see why the films turned out as well as they did. Part of the beauty of the tour is that the crew behind the cameras are allowed to express their talents to visitors, and visually show fractions of the hard work that went into the making of the films.

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HOGWARTS SPOILERS AHEAD:

After you’ve been thoroughly impressed by Design, it’s time for the main event.

Turning the corner, Harry In Winter by Patrick Doyle begins to play, and – completely in awe – you come across an intricate scale model of Hogwarts castle in the snow.

It’s well worth visiting whilst it’s decorated like this. Not just for the castle, but for all the little extras the team at the Studio Tour add to the sets to give the homely festive feelings the films so excellently evoke.

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Without the snow (for comparison):

The castle is surrounded by interactive boards, which tell you more about how the model was used to shoot film scenes of Hogwarts, and more on its construction (which took 80 model makers over 7 months!). From the website:

‘The crew updated it over the years when the story required it (the bridge was added for Prisoner of Azkaban, the Owlery for Goblet of Fire, and the Astronomy Tower for Half-Blood Prince), and the model was used for nearly every exterior shot of Hogwarts seen in the first six Harry Potter films. The specialist work was so detailed that it would have taken one person more than 74 years to complete!’

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This truly is the most magical part of the tour, and I’d recommend you spend a long time appreciating just how perfect the model is, and get loads of photos!

Even the gift shop at the end of the tour is immaculately presented. Almost like a set itself, you pass through Olivander’s wand shop (where you are reminded that around 17,000 wand boxes were inscribed by hand for the films), to reach the best place to buy yourself and others amazing presents. Wands, sweets, plush toys, mugs, keyrings, robes, notebooks, pens, house jumpers and t-shirts – you name it, I bet they’ve got it!

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Hogwarts in the Snow will be running from today (13th November) until Sunday 31st January 2016. It’s such an amazing experience, and we at Leaky would definitely recommend visiting!

More information can be found on the event’s page here, and tickets can be purchased here. The guided option of the tour is narrated by Tom Felton, and this is definitely recommended if you want to know the inside-out details of the film-making process as you walk around the tour.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Warner Bros. for inviting us to this special event – it was an absolutely amazing evening, and we hope everybody else enjoys Hogwarts in the Snow as much as we did!

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15. Comedian/Author Michael Ian Black on Why the Movies Get Love and Marriage All Wrong

"Love," writes Michael Ian Black, "is cinema’s abiding theme, especially romantic love, the kind of 'meet cute' love that surmounts every roadblock on its journey to happy ever after."

But love (and marriage) in the movies, well, that bears little resemblance to the life that the comedian, actor (The State, Wet Hot American Summer) and best-selling author has found himself living, and, one might venture to speculate, the lives most of us live. Do you agree? Here's more of Black's take, written just for Amazon: 

Michael Ian Black

"It’s no wonder that movies get marriage so wrong. After all, they are almost diametrically opposing experiences. Movies are about escape. Marriages are about 'no escape.' Once you tie your life to somebody else, there is no turning back, at least not without an attorney.

One of the things that inspired me to write my new book, You’re Not Doing It Right, is my annoyance at movie marriages, particularly the romantic comedy marriage. Hollywood has given us two, equally false, notions of marriage. Either it’s the joining of two gorgeous young people “destined” to be together, or as a wheezing and cold institution inhabited by miserable and middle-aged wheezebags, usually meant to illustrate a counterpoint to the love the gorgeous young couple in the film will share once their destinies are realized, and they are able to finally be together against all odds. Yawn. Boring. Wrong.

In my experience as a husband of thirteen years, marriage is neither of these things. Yes, my wife and I are both gorgeous. Hollywood got that part right. And yes, we had to surmount a few obstacles to be together, such as the fact that she was living with her boyfriend when we met.  But our trip down the aisle wasn’t the beginning of a perfect life together. It was the start of something else, something that cannot be encapsulated in ninety minutes and a soundtrack by Maroon 5."

Read more on the Amazon Studios Hollywonk blog.

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16. "Suddenly, a Knock on the Door": Ira Glass Reads a Story by Etgar Keret

KeretThere are authors who cut their milk teeth on short stories, and there are authors who dedicate themselves to the form with Buddha-like focus. Israeli writer Etgar Keret—nerds of a certain ilk will recognize his name from This American Life and The New Yorker—falls firmly into the latter camp, as his newly translated sixth collection makes clear.

The quirky, thought-provoking, often hilarious pieces in Suddenly, a Knock on the Door lend themselves to being read out loud, on your coffee break, or between subway stops. Keret doesn’t bother with a coat of sugar or even Splenda: His characters question themselves and screw up with such regularity that it’s easy for us to plant ourselves in the middle of their lives.

The tension in these stories comes from the sort of decision anyone might make on any given day, like what to stash in your pockets, where to go to lunch, and if you feel like getting a drink with that guy you fooled around with a year ago who didn’t call afterward. In Keret’s world, he’ll be flawed and you’ll be flawed, and whether or not it works out isn’t really the point. The point is to go along for the ride, however brief, and lose yourself inside other people’s moments.

To celebrate the English-language publication of Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, we’re thrilled to share two excerpts with Omnivoracious readers: an exclusive audio version of the title story, read by none other than Ira Glass (squee!); and, after the jump, the full text of “What Animal Are You?”

"Suddenly, a Knock..." - read by Ira Glass

What Animal Are You?

(This story originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine.)

The sentences I’m writing now are for the benefit of German Public Television viewers. A reporter who came to my home today asked me to write something on the computer because it always makes for great visuals: an author writing. It’s a cliché, she realizes that, but clichés are nothing but an unsexy version of the truth, and her role, as a reporter, is to turn that truth into something sexy, to break the cliché with lighting and unusual angles. And the light in my house falls perfectly, without her having to turn on even a single spot, so all that’s left is for me to write.

At first, I just made believe I was writing, but she said it wouldn’t work. People would be able to tell right away that I was just pretending. “Write something for real,” she demanded, and then, to be sure: “A story, not just a bunch of words. Write naturally, the way you always do.” I told her it wasn’t natural for me to be writing while I was having my picture taken for German Public Television, but she insisted. “So use it,” she said. “Write a story about just that—about how unnatural it seems and how the unnaturalness suddenly produces something real, filled with passion. Something that permeates you, from your brain to your loins. Or the other way around. I don’t know how it works with you, what part of your body gets the creative juices flowing. Each person is different.” She told me how she’d once interviewed a Belgian author who, every time he wrote, had an erection. Something about th

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17. Photos: Inside Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter

Leaky participated in a press tour of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter this morning and now has a special gallery of high res photos from the experience right here!  Stay close for Leaky's full report, set to be online soon.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour opens to the public on March 31st.  For tickets and more information, visit the official website here.

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18. Novelist/Screenwriter Noah Hawley on Hollywood, Pitching and Parenthood

Noah HawleyNoah Hawley is a novelist and screenwriter (Lies and Alibis, The Unusuals) whose latest book, The Good Father: A Novel, is the powerful story of a man trying to understand and defend his son, who stands accused of a terrible crime. 

In this exclusive guest post, Hawley talks about the secret to Hollywood success and how little a pitch has to do with actual writing.

I started The Good Father in 2007. I put it down twice in order to create and run two television shows. In the fall of 2010 I finished the book. As we were about to submit the finished manuscript to publishers, a disturbed young man in Arizona shot a congresswomen and six other people in a supermarket parking lot. Jared Loughner, the latest in a long line of lone gunman that America has produced.

Immediately in the aftermath of the shooting, my agent and I decided to put off the sale.

Over the next few weeks I went back and incorporated references to Loughner’s crime into the novel. The Good Father is a novel that explores the lone gunman archetype, presenting case studies (assembled by Dr. Allen) of shooters like Sirhan Sirhan and John Hinkley. I felt I would have been remiss in not addressing this latest shooting in the novel. The truth is, it would have been the first thing Dr. Allen thought of after his son was arrested, the first case study he would have compiled. He was looking for his son in Loughner’s eyes, asking, could my son have done what he did?

This unorthodox approach to storytelling is not something you could pitch in a room full of studio executives. If you tried to sell them a story that followed both a father and a son, and also present non-fiction histories of famous assassins, they would say that it sounds very “execution dependent,” which is a phrase they use. “Execution dependent” describes a film or TV idea that can only be successful is if it is written and directed and acted well. The success of the venture, in other words, is in the execution of the material. Which, in Hollywood, is no sure thing. The Amazing Spider-Man is going to make a billion dollars no matter how good it is, is their logic. But a complicated drama told in two time periods with a history lesson to boot, requires risk and skill, and that’s a gamble.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t have to pitch this story to anyone. There was no segue, no bottled water or receiving line of handshakes with a view of swaying palm trees. I just sat down and started writing. Which is what a writer does, everywhere except in Hollywood.

Read more on the Amazon Studios Hollywonk blog.

 

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19. Exclusive: David Hughes Explains Hollywood’s "Development Hell"

David Hughes mines Hollywood's depths for the untold stories behind the unmade movies (Sandman, where art thou?) and the unmade versions of movies that actually did reach the screen (like the fourth Indiana Jones film, written by Frank Darabont and meant to include Sean Connery).

In this exclusive guest post, Hughes answers the question at the heart of his acclaimed and — newly updated — book, Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made:

Development Hell bookWe often hear this phrase, ‘Development Hell’, thrown about. But what does it mean? (I should know: I wrote the book on it.)

In an ideal world, a screenwriter would write a script, and assuming it's brilliant, attract (a) a director, (b) actors, (c) finance, and (d) members of the opposite sex. In practice, these things seldom happen — especially (d). Of all the scripts that get written (fewer than 1% of those that get started), fewer than 1% get anywhere near anyone with the power to get them made; of that 1%, only 1% will actually be made. In other words, every film you see is like Rocky’s whole life — a million to one shot. Many of the rest wind up circling the drain in a place called Development Hell.

Development is what happens when everyone with an interest in an unproduced script tries to help it get to a place where it’s ready to be turned into a movie. This will tend to involve studio executives, producers, actors, and multiple screenwriters — some brought on board because they have a particular ‘voice’, others because they had a hit the previous weekend. When all of these people pull in the same direction, working together to create the best possible version of a particular story — or, in most cases, one that’s achievable for the money — development can go smoothly. When some or all of the collaborators are pulling in different directions, and this process continues indefinitely, that’s Development Hell.

So how can budding screenwriters avoid this special form of damnation? One way is to refuse to sell anything you’ve written, leaving your perfect script as words on paper, like the blueprint for a wonderful building that will never be constructed. Another way is to be so amazingly rich, you can finance your own films. Another If, however, you want to see your masterpiece on the big screen, and you don’t have the necessary millions to make it yourself, there’s a pretty good chance you will end up in the special place reserved for screenplays that started out so perfect, they just had to be rewritten. And rewritten… And rewritten… The name of this particular circle of Hell? Why, Limbo of course.

The above article has since been optioned by a major Hollywood studio, and now features a talking dog, a car chase and a more “relatable” protagonist. A new writer is being drafted in to ‘punch up’ the second paragraph, and by the time they’ve finished, everyone will forget why they liked it in the first place.

Find more Hollywood stories and exclusive guest posts at the Amazon Studios Hollywonk blog.

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20. 10 Top-Secret Personal Facts About Junie B. Jones

Twenty years ago, a feisty kindergartner named Junie B. Jones stepped onto the book scene via a smelly school bus.  Since that day, Junie B.'s funny, tell-it-like-it-is style hasn't changed, nor has her popularity with young readers (maybe you were one of them?).  With kindergarten in the rearview mirror, there are now 27 books in the series (a brand new book, Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten, comes out in August) and Junie B. has gone on to adventures with tropical birds, missing teeth, and everything in between. 

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, there is a new full-color edition of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus that includes special features like an interview with author Barbara Park (conducted by guess who?).  Lucky for us, Junie B. found time in her busy schedule to tell us a few unknown facts about herself in this Amazon exclusive:

10 Top-Secret Personal Facts about Me, Junie B.

By Junie B. Jones

 1. My birthday is Junie the 1st!

2. My mother's name is Susan, Susie, Suz, Mommy, and Mother. Plus sometimes Daddy calls her Buttercup. That is ridiculous I think.

3. My favorite food is yummy, delicious lemon pie. Plus also I like 'pasketti and meatballs and whipped cream in a can, and sugar cookies! I do not like peas. Or Tuna Noodle Stinkle  (that dish does not smell delightful). 

4.  When I grow up I would like to be the janitor of my school. The janitor saves people from danger. And paints litter cans. And carry keys that unlock the bathroom. Without the janitor we couldn't even go to the toilet. I would also  enjoy being Beauty Shop guy, I think.  

5. My grandma, Helen Miller has a pet bird named Twitter. (Only I hate that dumb bird).

6.  I am not actually a fan of roosters either. One time, a boy named meanie Jim said that roosters can peck your head into a nub. And that is not pleasant, I tell you.

7. The name of my school is Clarence somebody or other Elementary School. 

8. I usually take the stupid smelly bus to school.  Only some mornings I accidentally spill cereal down the front of me at breakfast. And then I accidentally dance with Teddy instead of changing clothes. And so I accidentally miss the bus. Then Mother has to drive me. She is not pleasant when that happens.

9. When I am scared in the dark, I grab my bestest stuffed animal named Philip Johnny Bob. And then both of us sing, "The sun will come out tomorrow" from the hit musical ANNIE.

10.  My favorite fruits are fruit loops, cherry jello, grape Kool-aid, orange popsicles, strawberry shortcake, blueberry pancakes and chocolate covered raisins.

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21. "Animal House" Exclusive Interview: New Book, New Stories and Visions of Broadway

Animal House, one of the most-loved movie comedies of all time, is hotter than ever. There’s a Broadway show in the works and a new, behind-the-scenes book called Fat, Drunk, & Stupid by producer Matty Simmons, who talks to us about what Hollywood first thought of the script (hated it!), what got cut, and why there was never a sequel.

Some highlights from the interview:

FatDrunkStupidBookOn getting the green light: My junior partner at the time was Ivan Reitman [who went on to make comedy classics including Ghostbusters] and we went into [Univeral Studios chief Ned] Tanen’s office and he said, “I hate this movie. Everyone’s drunk or having sex or getting beat up. Do you think you could make it for less than $3 million?" Now I had never made a movie. Ivan had made a couple of movies in Canada for about $8. I said, “Absolutely.” And I didn’t know what I was talking about. We made it for $2.8 million, and overall, everything in to date, it’s grossed about $600 million.

On the unforgettable audience response: We screened that movie in Denver … and at the end of that movie, the audience was standing on chairs and screaming and applauding and yelling. No one had seen anything like it. And then when they brought it back to Hollywood, they did a test screening and it got the highest rating in the then-history of the ratings system.

On getting Animal House to Broadway, with music by Barenaked Ladies: I had the idea about four or five years ago and it took me that long to convince Universal to do it, because they own the rights. They said, “Well, if you bring in the right team.” So I brought in a top Broadway producer, who many years ago was my publicity man and has since won about six Tonys (Jeff Richards), and the director of the Book of Mormon, the hottest show on Broadway (Casey Nicholaw).

Read more on the Amazon Studios Hollywonk blog.

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22. What Do You Want to Ask Rick Riordan?

This is a big Rick Riordan week for us as not only does the final Kane Chronicles book, The Serpent's Shadow, release today, but the author himself is coming to town--and we want to ask him your questions.

What would you like to know?  Questions about Carter or Sadie Kane?  Percy Jackson?  What Rick Riordan does on his day off?   Send in your questions for Rick via the Comments section and we will compile a list to ask him on video this Friday.  We’ll let you know when it’s ready to watch, don’t worry, it won’t be long!  This Thursday, May 3rd is our cut-off for questions--I can’t wait to see what our readers come up with!

Speaking of waiting, it's been a year since we last saw Carter and Sadie Kane in The Throne of Fire and in that time we wondered, what do Carter and Sadie read when they aren’t tangling with angry gods or trying to save the world?  If you've been asking yourself this same question, you're in luck because we have the answer in this exclusive straight from the Kane's themselves:

Sadie Kane: "Reading? You should talk to my brother the genius… Sometimes I read books about London and occasionally I try to learn new hieroglyphics, but mostly I’m too busy with trainees and trying to defeat Apophis.”

My Reading List:

The Symbolic World of Egyptian Amulets by Philippe Germond

Treasures of the British Museum by Marjorie Caygill

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

City Secrets London: The Essential Insider’s Guide by Robert Kahn and Tim Adams

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian by R.O. Faulkner

Egyptian Love Spells and Rituals by Claudia Dillaire

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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23. Ask Augusten Burroughs: What If Your Husband’s Always Late and Your Best Friend Dumps You?

Augusten-Head-LargeToday on Omnivoracious, we're delighted to launch a month-long weekly advice column by Augusten Burroughs, who makes his move from memoirist to self-help strategist with This Is How (available May 8). He starts by answering a frustrated plea from a mom whose husband's foot-dragging makes the whole family cranky. Then he digs into the deeper reasons a "well known, happy, funny, kind, 25 year old" may have been dumped by their best friend. 

My husband, the father of our two teenaged sons, works from home as a project manager for a large international corporation. During any given day, our lives will require that someone make a foray out of the house for band practice, food, lessons, doctors appointments, etc. Most of our outings are appointments where we are paying someone money for an actual unit of their time to be dispensed at an agreed up time.

Augusten-coverThis is the problem. My husband many, maybe even most times, in full knowledge of the rapidly looming time commitment, fires up a phone call, starts an email, sits down for a long personal moment in the bathroom. The rest of us are left seething until he presents himself ready to go. We now leave at the last possible minute, all cranky and out of sorts. If cars and traffic and every other variable aren't perfect, my husband's choices have left us NO wiggle room.

 It's simply awful. I have tried to talk to him about it just because it angers me, but also because I don't think it sets the greatest example for our teens. Just the miasma of furor and unsaid words is poor parenting, I think.

What do we do? He has to be involved—so we need a way to get through to him. It's enough to drive me back to drink, which is a country I'm not welcome in any longer. Help. -- Cate

Dear Cate,

I wish I knew even more. Does your husband’s differing degree of respect for punctuality result in real-world problems? Do you end up being late frequently and missing scheduled appointments you’ve already paid for? Or do you pretty much always make it, but it was just so close you aged like a month from the stress of it? 

 If the answer is the former, I have more questions. Is your relationship healthy and strong and good in other areas? If you’re talking to him about this, that at least tells me the two of you do communicate to some degree, right? Because if you and your husband are a good pair and the family is working, this might be like when you buy something you truly, deeply love at the store and when you get home, you realize there are extra hidden costs: it doesn’t come with batteries, you need a subscription, you can’t wear it until you have electrolysis, whatever. And as annoying as this can be, if you’re otherwise happy, sometimes you just have to fork over the extra. 

 It could also be that you and your husband are equally matc

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24. John Irving and "Crushes on the Wrong People"

[The editors at Omnivoracious are grateful to John Irving for this very special guest post about his new novel, In One Person, selected as one of our Best Books of the Month for May.]

IrvingIn One Person is about a young bisexual man who falls in love with an older transgender woman--Miss Frost, the librarian in a Vermont public library. The bi guy is the main character, but two transgender women are the heroes of this novel--in the sense that these two characters are the ones my bisexual narrator, Billy Abbott, most looks up to.

Billy is not me. He comes from my imagining what I might have been like if I’d acted on all my earliest impulses as a young teenager. Most of us don’t ever act on our earliest sexual imaginings. In fact, most of us would rather forget them--not me. I think our sympathy for others comes, in part, from our ability to remember our feelings--to be honest about what we felt like doing. Certainly, sexual tolerance comes from being honest with ourselves about what we have imagined sexually.

Those adults who are always telling children and young adults to abstain from doing everything--well, they must have never had a childhood or an adolescence (or they’ve conveniently forgotten what they were like when they were young).

When I was a boy, I imagined having sex with my friends’ mothers, with girls my own age--yes, even with certain older boys among my wrestling teammates. It turned out that I liked girls, but the memory of my attractions to the “wrong” people never left me. What I’m saying is that the impulse to bisexuality was very strong; my earliest sexual experiences--more important, my earliest sexual imaginings--taught me that sexual desire is mutable. In fact, in my case--at a most formative age--sexual mutability was the norm. What made me a writer was definitely a combination of what I read and what I imagined--especially, what I imagined sexually.

IrvingBilly meets the transgender librarian, Miss Frost, because he goes to the library seeking novels about “crushes on the wrong people.” Miss Frost starts him out with the Brontë sisters--specifically, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. She expresses less confidence in Fielding’s Tom Jones, which she also gives Billy. As she puts it, “If one can count sexual escapades as one result of crushes--"

Later, when Billy has become an avid reader and he returns to the library confessing his crush on an older boy on the wrestling team, Miss Frost--who has earlier given Billy novels by Dickens and Hardy--gives him Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. (This is the same night she seduces him.)

“We are formed by what we desire,” Billy tells us--in the first paragraph of the first chapter. He adds: “I desired to become a writer and to have sex with Miss Frost—not necessarily in that or

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25. Newbery Winner Jack Gantos Kicks Off Summer Reading

Jack Gantos is the author of this year's Newbery Medal-winning book, Dead End in Norvelt, and he's also the perfect guy to kick off our Summer Reading for Kids & Teens destination as our first featured author.  Gantos is a fantastic writer and he's really funny--after watching the special video he created for us below we were laughing out loud with big goofy grins on our faces, because Gantos makes reading fun.  It's  another of this author's' many talents--if you've got a reluctant reader, give them a Jack Gantos book.   Check out our author adventures kick-off video, courtesy of Mr. Jack Gantos, who reminds us all to "read a lot, or your brain will rot!"

Summer Reading Recommendations from Jack Gantos:

 

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