Drawing cool things isn’t about creating a beautiful picture by copying another artist. It is about learning a few simple drawing techniques that can be used over and over again to unleash your creativity.
I discovered Harry Back Eddy when I was a boy. I was eating breakfast with my family in a local restaurant. He was sitting at a table next to us drawing cool and wonderful things on the napkins on the table. My brother and sisters and I stared at his amazing creations with wonder as he made the napkins come alive with aliens, monsters and mutant pancakes.
It was like watching a tornado of doodles. The entire restaurant was watching Harry draw these super cool things as they scarfed down pancakes and eggs, even my mom and dad seemed to be mesmerized by the strange artist and his cool drawings.
Suddenly, he stopped drawing. He looked around the restaurant. Silence. The man stood up and walked over to our table. He handed my sisters napkins. My memory of it may be glazed a little bit but it was a magical day.
My youngest sister loved horses, he had drawn a funny cool picture of a horse riding a cowboy (to this day, I still wonder if it was a lucky guess). He presented it to her by throwing it into the air. The napkin floated to the table like the snowflake, landing right on my sister’s plate. Talk about cool things to draw.
To my other sister, who loved soccer, he handed a napkin with a drawing of a mutant soccer ball chasing a group of wacky soccer players. She giggled with delight.
My brother loved machines and hated homework. The man who I would later know as Harry Back Eddy, handed him a diagram of what looked like an invention of some kind of machine that would do his homework for him.
The cool thing on the napkin mesmerized my brother for weeks but he dropped the napkin in a puddle on the way to school and it was ruined. He is now an engineer. He doesn’t design crazy machines, but whenever I bring up the napkin, he gets magical look on his face. Cool things to draw
Next, Harry Back Eddy walked over to me. He looked at my parents and said, “May I show this young man something?” My parents smiled and said that it was okay. Harry looked down at me and said, “I will trade you! I will show you something amazing if you give me one piece of bacon! No more! No less!”
I sat there for a moment, confused.
He said, “Well, do we have a deal? I haven’t got all day?”
He snatched the piece of bacon from my plate and pulled a chair up next to our table. He began showing me how to draw cool stuff on the napkins in the restaurant. He showed me all these cool easy things to draw. In minutes, I had filled napkins with things that I had no idea that I could draw. I was hooked.
Every Sunday after church, my family would return to eat at this restaurant. Harry Back Eddy would give me cool things to draw on napkins. He wouldn’t be there every Sunday, but he was there a lot. I learned amazing things about drawing. It was like having my own personal drawing school.
I’ve talk to my parents about the cool things to draw that Harry Back Eddy created. They said my memory is a little foggy and that, in all, I probably only met him three or four times. I guess in my child mind that it was a glorious adventure.
Although we don’t agree on all of our memories, my family has all agreed on the what happened the last time we saw Harry Back Eddy in the restaurant.
One day we were eating breakfast. All of us were excited that we might see this now mythical being, the artist, Harry
Back Eddy. We had all finished eating, and the waitress was handing the bill to my father when Harry walked in the door. Everyone turned to look at him.
You couldn’t help but look at him. He was riding a bicycle! He rode the bike right up to our table. On the front of the bike there was a wire basket filled with a stack of spiral notebooks. He reached down and pulled them out of the basket. He handed the notebooks to my dad.
He told my dad, “These are for him!” He pointed at me. He never actually looked at me. He just pointed.
Then, he got on his bike and pedaled to the door. There was an awkward smashing and clanging as handle bars hit door parts. Then the door closed and he was gone.
He didn’t turn around.
It has been almost 28 years since that day.
I have finally decided what to do with the notebooks…
Welcome to cool things to draw! Welcome to the world of Harry Back Eddy!
There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t kept at least one of Harry’s notebooks on my night stand. I’ve spent years trying to put the beautiful craziness of notebooks in order. They are a beautiful mess. Stories start in one notebook and continue in another. Some drawings are finished, others are scribbles of notes and diagrams (these are my favorite). Figuring these out is like catching a frog, just when you think you’ve got it, it jumps out of your hands.
I’ve pieced together many of his stories. Many of them changed me. Some made me laugh out loud. Some made me cry. Many confused me, but every time I read them, I feel like I am dancing in Harry Back Eddy’s imagination.
I am finally good enough myself as an artist to bring some of his ideas to life. Now that I have kids I want them to have the joy of discovering this amazing artist and his work. I hope you like them too.