Before J.K. Rowling conjured Harry Potter, there was another bespectacled boy magician with an owl in Timothy Hunter, introduced in 1990 by Neil Gaiman and John Bolton in Vertigo's The Books of Magic. The character proved popular, and incredibly malleable, appearing in multiple series, and in multiple incarnations, over the decades. Tim will return once again in a new Books of Magic, part of the just-announced Sandman Universe imprint curated by Gaiman himself. But how do you reintroduce the character in the long shadow of the Boy Who Lived?
For Gaiman, that's part of the challenge of the series revival, written by author Kat Howard (Roses and Rot, An Unkindness of Magicians), which will introduce a new Tim entirely.
"Mostly what I’m looking forward to is going to that idea and starting it again in 2018," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Books of Magic was an idea I came up with and did 30 years ago and loved and had an enormous amount of fun with. It was pre-Harry Potter, and the idea of a bespectacled, tousled 12-year-old boy with an owl learning magic was this sort of weird new thing we were trying to figure out as it went along. I love the idea of starting that again now, because now you’re in a universe in which everybody and their brother knows how that kind of story ought to go. Now we’re going to go back and look at ways it can go, both lighter and darker (he said, picking his words with care), than the original. With that one, we’re taking this comic book approach that reminds me a little bit of what DC did when they came up with the concept of Earth One. They took the Flash, and you created the Barry Allen Flash and let the Jay Garrick Flash be the Flash of Earth Two. It’s a new Tim Hunter for a new time, and the old Tim Hunter may well have existed, and that may actually have ramifications for us a little bit down the line."
A new Tim Hunter would certainly be in keeping with Books of Magic mythology. The character has brought imaginary friends to life, and unconsciously created alternate worlds, complete with analogs of himself.
The artist for Books of Magic has yet to be announced.