Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roy Doty Draws the 'Holly Daze'

Tom Heintjes has put together a great article on Roy Doty's Christmas cards over at Hogan's Alley.

It got me digging through my old magazines in search of more 'Holly Day' art by Roy -- and in no time at all I located this spread from the December 1949 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Roy tells me he doesn't recall much about this particular job. "I was working for damn near every magazine at that time," he replied to my query. "Do remember the drawing... but no story connected to it."

Never one to pass up the opportunity to pester an old timer with questions about work they did half a century ago, I fired off another scan to Roy... this one from Coronet magazine. I've always wondered about these tiny page toppers in Coronet (and Reader's Digest). Besides Roy, many other fine illustrators and cartoonists regularly did them. I asked Roy if he could recall anything about how much they paid, and if they were assigned in batches or one at a time.

Ever the good sport, Roy got right back to me with the following:

"You certainly are dredging up oldies. Sorry, but I don't remember what they paid for the illustrations. They were assigned one at a time. Everything in those days was based in New York. We all made the rounds and either saw the art director or the editor. They called, we came. Coronet illustrations were tiny, but not as tiny as the ones we all did for the Readers Digest. Now those were really small..."

"...but they paid better."

* Be sure to visit Hogan's Alley so you can marvel at fifty-plus years of Roy Doty's Christmas card art.

* My Roy Doty Flickr set.


  1. Chet Morton5:14 PM

    In 1957, when my mother and father married, my grandmother gave Mom the book "The Complete Book of Absolutely Perfect Housekeeping," by Elinor Goulding Smith. Inside it, she inscribed "Things I never told you. Love, Mother. At the time, the book was a best seller. Mr. Doty illustrated it. I knew all the drawings before I was able to read -- and, after I learned to read, I discovered the book was hilarious. I knew Roy Doty's work before I knew that of any other commercial artist. Even today, I could probably describe every one of his drawings in the book. They amused as much as what had been written.

    The hardcover of the book showed a repeating Dota image of scowlingwoman in a shirtwaist dress leaning against her house, which was her height and leaning scowling against her. Forehead to forehead.

    In 1958, after I was born, Grandma gave Mom Goulding's follow-up book, "The Complete Book of Absolutely Perfect Baby and Child Care." Also hilarious. And again, Mr. Doty's drawings unforgettable. The book begins, "The book begins, "It sometimes happens, even in the best of families, that a baby is born. This is not necessarily cause for alarm. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and borrow some money."

    A favorite image, one I think of often even 50 years later, is of the parents using a shovel to pour food into the hugely open mouth of their demanding baby. Appears more hilarious than it reads. Even a five-year-old, which I was when I remember first reading it, could understand the premise. I think the children he drew helped teach me a sense of humility about myself. I didn't want to be those kids.

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