Frequently Asked Questions
For the curious, here’s a little bit more information about the Companion.
Who are you?
My name is John Kearns, and I’m just a big fan of Harry Potter. Rowling used to say that her biggest fans were “obsessives,” and that’s definitely me. I was an editor at the Harry Potter Lexicon for three years, until events I couldn’t control sucked the fun out of it for me and I decided to start my own project instead. I started working on this site in November 2007; it first went live with five chapters posted in February 2009; and I completed the initial project (the chapter-by-chapter pages) in June 2011.
How do you know so much about Harry Potter?
I’ve actually only read the books cover-to-cover a handful of times; more of my knowledge comes from looking up references, having conversations about the books, and just having a knack for making connections. I also once indexed the entirety of the series (back when there were just five books), and I’ve done lots of things like write trivia contests and cross-check encyclopedias to ensure all the necessary entries are included.
How did you find all of the artists?
Lots and lots of searching. The first four months I worked on this project, all I did was collect art. My iPhoto library cracked 2,000 Harry Potter images long before anyone but me knew about the site, and all but a handful are canon-based (that is, scenes direct from the books). I’m up to 4,100 now, with permission to use work from over 100 different artists, and still climbing. Incidentally, every single drawing on the site was reprinted with the exclusive permission of the artist who created it and cannot be reused without their permission.
How do you decide what artwork to include on the HPC?
I spent a long time debating how I would select art for the Companion. Ultimately, I decided that the only way I could create a site with a coherent vision – as well as one that I would truly enjoy working on – would be if the vision were exclusively my own. I don’t pretend to have credentials that qualify me to judge what artwork is ‘good;’ I simply take art that fits what I see when I read the books. This ends up meaning that only a very small percentage of the art I consider – around 3% is my best estimate – ends up on the site.
I realize that my method is entirely subjective. I also realize that some of the artists and pieces I’ve chosen not to include are wonderful (some of my personal favorites actually didn’t make the cut). So I hope nobody thinks I’m judging their work by not including it – I’m merely saying it doesn’t fit the feel of the site I’m trying to create.
What about the banner artwork?
When I was posting the original chapter-by-chapter pages, the banner artwork changed along with the chapters I was posting. In all I used twenty-four different drawings by twenty-one different artists. Since the project was completed the images have rotated at random. More information about the drawings – and when they were originally posted – can be found here.
Are you still looking for more art?
Sure – if you have some (or know of some), I’d love to see it! I can’t promise I’ll use everything that I’m sent, of course; as I say above, it has to fit my vision of the books (and depending on the scene, I may already have lots of other drawings!). But it can’t hurt to send me an e-mail, right?
Why don’t you update more often?
When I first started this site I had lots of spare time, and posted a new chapter every two or three days. I’ve since become a father, started an intense job, and generally shifted my life focus in other directions. I still keep the site up to date and have more updates and improvements in mind, but I’m not sure when they’ll come in; hopefully one day soon! If you’re interested in staying in touch, I recommend following on an RSS feed, Twitter, or Facebook (links are in the right-hand column), and you’ll know when the site is updated again.
Why are comments closed?
Comments were once open on every page of the site, and over 9,000 were posted in all. As the pages have aged, however, the conversation has become more sparse and newer comments have added fewer new ideas. Coupled with my lack of time to moderate them, this led me to decide to close old pages to new comments. New posts and pages still have comments open; these will be approved and edited solely at my discretion.
You quote a lot of direct text from the books. Won’t J.K. Rowling hate you?
I don’t believe so. In terms of copyright I’m not breaking any new ground, as my format was partially inspired by a number of predecessors, including Makani’s Project HBP; Marta T’s website, with her loads of canon art; The Harry Potter Lexicon’s Reader’s Guides, and Tealin Raintree’s Azkaban Project. All have been around for some time, and one has been endorsed by Rowling. My site is also freely available to anyone who wants to read it, which Rowling has said in the past is important to her.
That said, if I ever hear from Rowling or Warner Brothers that part of my site is unsatisfactory to them for any reason, I will of course make immediate adjustments. And I’m certainly not going to be publishing any of it.
How do I get in touch with you?
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.