Throwback: That Time I Drew the US Chapter Images in MS Paint
As Harry Potter fans, we all express our passion for the boy wizard and his world in different ways. Before I was introduced to MuggleNet at the end of 2002, my way of processing all the newfound energy I had from discovering the books was sort of unique – I typed the first three books into my computer.
My goal was to have a digital document that I could issue Find commands in so that I could better search for words, phrases, and clues found in the text. No doubt this text came in handy once I discovered the Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter (Analysis of Books 1–4), by Galadriel Waters, a massively impactful guidebook to “literary sleuthing” that changed my life in no small amount. Even before then, I could tell just from reading the Harry Potter books that there was something more than your average storytelling happening within due in part to the fact that my favorite character from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Sirius Black) was mentioned in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
I was a pretty fast typist. Having spent my early teen years glued to my family’s computer and America Online 3.0, I would spend countless hours in chat rooms or instant messaging people, and I think this helped me with speed. So each day after school, I would come home, prop a Harry Potter book open between my lap and the keyboard shelf of my family’s computer desk, and type what I was reading.
This “hobby” had two immediate results. The first was that, as a sort of courier for J.K. Rowling’s words, the story “flowed” through me in a way not quite captured by reading. From my eyes through my brain to my fingertips and into my WordPad document, I still have memorized many passages from the first three books. The second result was that I knew I’d need something else to break the monotony, to punctuate, if you will, the completion of each chapter. And it didn’t take long for me to find out what.
Besides AOL, the other program I most often opened on my family’s computer was Paint. While offering an array of seemingly simple, nay, basic tools, Microsoft Paint at that time surprised me the more I spent time doodling. I began recreating things I saw in life, like the view of other houses from my backyard. Things I was learning in art class, like forced perspective line drawing, quickly helped me improve the realistic nature of my MS Paint game. And learning how to work the custom color wheel was a real game changer.
So I knew what I must do when a new chapter of one of the Harry Potter books was typed, and that was to recreate (as faithfully as I could) or reimagine the beautiful (yet monochromatic on the page) chapter illustrations that appeared at the start of every chapter in the US Harry Potter books, drawn by Mary GrandPré.
My experience was wholly pleasant. I had a lot of fun drawing owls and the places of the wizarding world, and in those rare instances when the icon chosen by Mary GrandPré to represent the chapter did not feel right to me, I chose something different and made it up just the same. For example, the chapter “The Dueling Club” from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was such a large Gilderoy Lockhart moment that I chose to draw a full-bodied Gilderoy over Nearly Headless Nick. Sorry, Sir Nicholas!
The re-drawn chapter images in full color were just another way for me to immerse myself in the magical world that lived in my head and on the pages of the story. It was fan art and a tribute while at the same time was helping me grow my skills and also stretch my brain even further than just typing the books would have. It was this act of typing the books that most caught the attention of MuggleNet’s webmaster Emerson Spartz, and he says as much in the intro to my November 2002 Potter Profile when I became fan of the week on MuggleNet due to my best friend Justin finding the website and submitting my name and information on my behalf.
While I do not dabble as much in Paint as I used to – and I stopped typing the HP books once I discovered that e-books were a thing – I love looking back and seeing the ways in which my enthusiasm netted out creative endeavors. And one of those ways is these gorgeous (if kinda fuzzy and pixelated) chapter image reimaginings, presented to you now.