The Books of Magic – Did DC Comics invent Harry Potter before J.K. Rowling?

When author J.K Rowling published her first novel of the now world famous series of fantasy novels about young wizard Harry Potter – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone –  she opened a gateway into a magical world that since then has expanded into a universe of spin off media, several books and merchandise. Rowlings creations have become a multi billion dollar industry in itself.

Basically everybody who grew up during the 2000s has crossed path with the glasses wearing magical hero at least once. But what if there was a hero very, very similar already fighting magical duels while experiencing training to become the greatest wizard of all time years before you have ever heard words like Hogwarts or Quidditch?

What if he also wore glasses? What if he also was accompanied by an owl, just like Harry Potter’s white pet owl Hedwig? What if his parents also died?

What if…? Ok, let’s just introduce you to the most powerful wizard of all time, who goes by the name of Timothy Hunter.

Unfortunately we can’t see Tim’s tie clearly, so we don’t know if he is Hufflepuff or Slytherin.

Timothy Hunter was introduced into the world seven years before the first Harry Potter book was released. His adventures were published as a four-part miniseries of graphic novels by Vertigo Comics, publisher DC Comics’ more mature-orientated sub label.

At first just created to start a new comic series to introduce the reader to all the countless magical and occult comic book characters like John Constantine (not only featured in his own series Hellblazer, but also played by Keanu Reeves in his movie debut and available as a streaming series on Netflix), the Phantom Stranger, Zatana and the Spectre and many more that already inhabited the DC universe.

“You’re a wizard, Harry.”

To write the story, DC approached Neil Gaiman, who by no definition is a stranger to fantasy fans. 

Since his beginnings in 1984 the English author of comic books, short fiction, movies and even non-fiction has released notable works such as The Sandman (one of the first graphic novels to ever be on The New York Times Best Seller list), Coraline (a children’s fantasy novella that was later turned into a critically-acclaimed movie) and American Gods (a book series, now also an Amazon Original series). 

The story starts out very familiar to Harry Potter’s origins with Timothy coming from a long line of magicans destined to become the most powerful sorcerer of all time, but only if he chooses to.

An early stroke of fate in this boy wizard’s life is the tragic death of his mother who dies dies in a car accident, that also severely wounds his father, whose grief over the loss of his wife prevents him from being a real father to the story’s hero.

A fate similar to Harry Potter, whose parents are murdered, when he was 15 years old.

Tim’s magical powers also attract the attention of sinister, occult groups which leads him to the decision if he wants to use his powers for good or evil.

The teenage wizard’s journey was not finished by the four issues miniseries in 1990, but continued throughout several spin-offs like Mister E or The Children’s Crusade and even into an ongoing series that lasted 75 issues.

Gaiman was quoted calling out J.K. Rowling in a Daily Mirror article due to the similarities, but in recent interviews he stated that he never saw that many Books of Magic similarities in Harry Potter.

To be fair:

A boy wizard is nothing very original in literature, but this really hits so close, that one might wonder why there never was any legal dispute over the matter. The answer to that might be the fact that both DC Comics and the Harry Potter movie franchise are owned by Warner Brothers. 

A legal battle between their franchises would mostly mean one thing – a loss of money for Warner Brothers.

While all similarities seem to be by accident (Wink, wink), Peter Gross, one of the writers of the later series could not resist to build in a little reference to Harry Potter by including a story line in which Tim Hunter’s step brother Cyril uses a magic spell to change into a Tim doppelganger. Cyril then uses his newly adapted magical powers to walk through walls, but not any walls – the wall between platforms 9 and 10 at a train station. Just like so many young magicians did so many times in J.K. Rowlings successful book series.

Several reprints of The Books of Magic are available and a Netflix series based on Neil Gaiman’s other big creation The Sandman is also ready to be released in August, giving you no excuses to not dive into this alternative magical world, that might not be Hogwarts, but offers you hours and hours of pure magic.