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Harry Bliss

As a child

I grew up in upstate New York, amidst a family of working artists and illustrators. I was particularly drawn to comic books, and black and white movies on the television; artists like Walt Kelly, Charles Schultz and Frank Frazetta, and the films of Billy Wilder, John Houston and Alfred Hitchcock. Also, I was thrilled when my mother’s issue of The New Yorker arrived in the mail, giving me the opportunity to marvel at the brilliant work of Charles Addams. I spent many house drawing at my desk, or with my nose in an art book filled with reproductions of the Impressionists. I adored Picasso and Modigliani. In addition to my near addiction to art, I daydreamt a lot. Most of my dreams involved girls I worshipped and rock bands I wanted to play with (I didn’t play an instrument – only air guitar).

As an adult

I try to make time for the things in my life which are most important, and most pleasurable for me. For me, they are: my family, art, hockey, reading, ping-pong, reading, eating, eating while reading, laughing, and spending too much money buying old toys I’d loved as a child, on EBay. My wife and I also collect original art. One of the most enjoyable times for me is when I pick up my son from school and see all the kids running about madly, free for the day. It’s brilliant.

As an artist

I began working for The New Yorker in 1997, under Tina Brown. Since then, the magazine has published seventeen covers and over fifty cartoons of mine. It was through long-time New Yorker contributor, William Steig, that I came to children’s books. Steig wrote me a letter asking me if I’d consider an agent – his agent, Holly McGhee. We met, and got along well. Soon after that, a terrific Sharon Creech manuscript came my way. A Fine, Fine School was my first book by Sharon, and made it to the New York Times’ bestseller list (thirty-three weeks, and counting). I take children’s books very seriously. I find the process involved in creating good books for kids very difficult, and one I enjoy immensely. In the books I make for children, I strive for nothing short of my best – which is what children deserve.

Things you didn't know about Harry Bliss

  1. I love to play and watch hockey.
  2. Dominic, by William Steig, is one of my favourite books ever.
  3. I stopped making art in my twenties, to play drums in a band.
  4. I make a terrific soup.
  5. I find Andrew Wyeth’s work brilliant.
  6. As a child, I’d dream of the Impressionists.
  7. I make myself laugh – a lot.
  8. I once stayed up all night drawing my feet.
  9. I find women fascinating.
  10. My wife exceeds all my expectations.

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