Date: July 1st, 2000
One hundred and seventy-six books bear his name, as illustrator, writer, or both. After 54 years of freelancing, he still works more than 60 hours a week, but cartoonist Roy Doty doesn't plan on slowing down.
Doty wanted to be a cartoonist since his elementary school days, but was not encouraged to follow the dream. "It was the middle of the Depression," he said, and he and his siblings "were persuaded to get some kind of job that would last forever, working for the Postal Service or something like that."
During World War II, Doty was trained as a radar operator by the U.S. Army. But he also started publishing cartoons. The Army, he said, "makes musicians into cooks and cooks into drill sergeants - it made me into a cartoonist."
He drew cartoons for his camp newspaper in Georgia. Sent to Paris after its liberation, Doty worked for military publications such as Stars & Stripes and Yank, and freelanced for the London Daily Mail andElle magazine. After his Army discharge, he spent a week in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, then headed to New York City with his portfolio.
"I had $350 in army discharge pay, and a return train ticket to Columbus," he recalled. "About a week before I would have run out of money and had to go home, the New York Times Magazine called and gave me three drawings . . . then CBS gave me a full-page ad . . . then Seventeen Magazine gave me six pages. I never looked back."
Now 77, Doty has absolutely no plans to retire. "I love it all. Every job is different," he said. Doty has a "wall full" of awards, and has been named Illustrator of the Year six times by the National Cartoonists' Society. And he is still breaking new ground. "I've got a jigsaw puzzle coming out this week; I've never done one before. Last month I sold two children's board games; I've never done a board game."
Though he doesn't yet own a computer, Doty praises the information age: he says the changing modes of communication have reduced age bias. "[Clients] do not see you. Nobody gives a damn how old you are, nor do they ask," he said. "If you turn out work and it's what they want, that's enough."
Doty, who now lives in Norwalk, Conn., steals away for a round of golf when he can - and still walks the course. A recent physical found him in excellent health. Genetics may be on his side; his four siblings are still living, and his mother lived to be 92. "When my mother found out she was dying, she was mad," he said. "Her mother lived to be 102, so she felt like she was being shorted!"
But it could be that Roy Doty is simply happy, and loves what he does, and that has strengthened him. "I feel sorry for people who have talent and want to be musicians, writes, actors, what have you, and go through life not doing what they want to do," he says. "I still love every minute of it."