I don't know what tools Howard used off-hand, but as someone who's taught themselves to draw, I can give you two major pieces of advice, and some tips for finding a good "how to draw" book.
It's a tired old thing you've heard before, but the best way is just practice practice practice. Make time every day or every other day to just sit around in a public place and just draw what you see -- coffeeshops or libraries are a decent bet. Draw people, draw cool pieces of the environment, draw cool outfits or cars or peoples' pets if you spot any...etc. Just sit down and try, it doesn't matter how the first few dozen (or few hundred) sketches look, as long as you're learning from them, and making them the best you can.
While books are a wonderful thing (and I know I've read some things that helped my art tremendously
...after I'd had time to use them), progress will come from practice more than anything else.
It is really easy to splurge on supplies and preparation and things that could
help one draw...but it's also really easy to get disheartened when they don't immediately result in a major change. So, at least at first, I'd suggest keeping it simple. Printer paper, #2 pencil, possibly an eraser. Or, in the digital realm, a free art program (I like this one
) and a mouse. Fancy tools, nomatter how cool they are to play with, have nothing to do with one's skill at drawing and often have a learning curve of their own.
When trying to figure out if you'd like a particular how-to-draw book or online tutorial, browse through it if you can. Some things to look for while flipping through:
-- You'll want one that shows the basic building blocks that the human body is made up of. They'll split the human body into a bunch of blobby ovals, or a stick figure, or both; and then add features on after that. It should also talk about the human face, specifically.
-- It should talk about perspective and proportions, at least briefly. It's harder than it looks, for most of us.
-- You probably do not
want one that teaches you "how to draw" by showing you how to draw a (handful of?) specific pictures. Pay attention to whether it gives general advice, or step-by-step instructions that result in a specific image.
-- If it talks about cloth folds and wrinkles, or hands and feet, that'll be extremely helpful once you've gotten comfortable with the basics.