McEldowney was born in 1952 in Charleston, West Virginia. He now lives in Maine. He attended Allegheny College, majoring in Arts. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Juilliard School of Music in 1977 and a Master of Arts in 1979, studying the viola. He also studied and performed at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has worked as a violist, music critic, and cartoonist. He was assistant editor of Opus, a classical music magazine, and has had cartoons shown in that publication as well as in Yankee and Pulse. His first cartoon sale was to Punch[reference needed]. He writes, composes, and designs sets for the theatre.