The Internet went into a happy meltdown in July when J.K. Rowling posted a new Harry Potter short story to Pottermore, the official fansite of the boy who lived. The story featured a grown-up Harry with “threads of silver” in his hair, and was written in the style of a gossip column. It was a comforting gift for millions of Harry Potter fans. The only thing it really lacked, like so many similar exercises, was courage.
It’s a problem for any creative who experiences early success. Since writing the final(ish) chapter of the Harry Potter series, Rowling has published two books: The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling (published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). Both were well received but, naturally, neither was the cultural milestone her first creation was. The temptation to return to what she knew was understandably strong.
It’s a plight she shares with the Brothers Chaps—Mike and Matt Chapman, creators of the godfather of Internet joke videos: Homestar Runner. In the early 2000s, Homestar Runner was about as funny as media got. After its popularity waned, the Chapmans turned their attention to other projects, but this summer, they announced new Homestar Runner material was on the way.
Add Homestar Runner to a growing list of completed projects that have gotten new material grafted on—Arrested Development, Star Wars, Indiana Jones. Some of these are better than others, but they’re all returns to projects that didn’t need returning.
There’s nothing bad about a new Harry Potter story or a fresh batch of Homestar Runner videos. It’s just that Rowling and the Chapmans are creative talents of a rare caliber who could be pushing out new, even more revolutionary creations. If it’s gratifying to see them returning to their roots, imagine how exciting it would be for them to focus their energies on a new generation of innovative masterpieces.
Isn’t that what creativity is all about?