I met Harry in the Fall of 1986 at The Joe Kubert School and he was a skinny teenager and I was a skinny young man. My how things have changed.
The Kubert School had purchased an old mansion as their dorm rooms and it also contained a carriage house on the property which is where Harry lived. I lived in the mansion and we really didn't become friends until the following summer but we did know each other. Harry likes to tell the story of the first time we met.
The story goes that Harry was visiting some friends over a the mansion when he heard this obnoxious noise coming from another room. Loud laughing and a booming voice. It grated on Harry's nerves instantly. Wondering who was making all that racket, he looked around the corner to find this loud-mouthed obnoxious kid with long hair laughing and making way too much noise. He thought to himself "What an annoying guy!"
Funny thing is, shortly we would become best friends although he would still comment from time to time that I was a loud and obnoxious dude and some would say I still am
Still, Harry and I did find something in common- music and our friendship was sealed when we wanted to make a cartoon and together and decided that we needed music for it.
It was called The Hole Thing and perhaps Harry would be so kind as to post it someday. It mostly consisted of various animals and things coming out of a hole with music. Riveting to say the least. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it and soon we had twelve projects going at once, with none of them ever really being focused on. That was one of the biggest things early on that we had in common was a lack of focus. So much creative energy can sometimes be a distraction and we had huge helpings of it.We had so many irons in the fire we never reawslly could concentrate on one thing at a time. We usded to joke that it was " Making the Happy Meals before the film was done" and to some degree we just recently figured out how to stop that and focus on one thing- Ribeye the Bullbarian.
I remember how Harry showed me these little comics he did while growing up and they fascinated me. No bigger than an index card they were lovingly illustrated and very detailed in their stories. Some were superhero comics and others were about this raccoon aptly named Rack and his son Racky. It was fascinating and I had never seen anyone ever do anything like it before in my life. Harry gave me that belief that we could do anything. Something that is rare. Sure we could make a cartoon! Of course we could write and draw comics! Why not? Doggone right we could write and record songs! He was fearless. I was always amazed by Harry's belief in himself and eventually in me as well.
Over the years I have come to have more confidence in what I am doing by simply hanging out with him and for that I am truly indebted. Just a short conversation with Harold J. inspires the heck out of me and when it's over my mind is swirling with new concepts, ideas and funny little cartoons and characters. Harry brings that out in people.
The future for Zaptoons (named after a stray cat Harry picked up) at this stage looks very bright indeed and I look forward to all of the things we have going. Yes we still have quite a few irons in the fire but as we grow older we've started to learn how to balance them better and I, for one, am just about to burst sometimes with all the creative possibilities the future holds!