Monday, January 19, 2009
News of Yore 1968: Ver-r-r-y Interesting Comic Debuts
Down Gag Alley with Roy Doty
By Don Maley (E&P, 9/7/68)
Human cartooning machine Roy Doty recently confessed to being “New York’s number one streetwalker” and because of his midtown meanderings 250 lucky newspaper editors have received freebie copies of last week’s E&P—compliments of the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.
The complimentary copies of E&P contained a four page color spread advertising Doty’s new comic strip “Laugh In” which is being distributed by CT-NYNS. Doty’s pavement pounding is confined to tri-weekly jogs “between 42nd Street and 52nd Street” where he seeks out ideas for the newly-launched seven-a-week strip. “We use 35 gags a week to keep the strip going. Times that by 52 weeks a year and you have to come up with between 1,600 to 1,700 ideas.” Doty walked by an East Side art gallery the other day and saw a replica of armless Venus de Milo—which was grist for Doty’s ha-ha mill. The gag:
Venus de Milo has dropped out of the Arms Race. “We try to keep all our gags current,” he says, adding, “but some are older than others.” (Bet that’s a new one on Michelangelo.)
“Laugh-In” has been signed by 38 major newspapers to date. According to CT-NYNS president Arthur Laro the strip “has been offered for only a month and editors from coast to coast have given it a warm reception. As a matter of fact they were delighted.” The E&P ad was the first general offer made after syndicate’s salesmen visited selected newspapers.
If the “Laugh-In” title sounds familiar it’s far from being coincidental. The strip borrows its name from the Rowan & Martin TV comedy series. “We arranged with the owners of the ‘Laugh-In’ TV Show to do this,” said Laro, “but the two are entirely separate. There’s no affiliation at all, Doty dreams up his own gags here on the East Coast and the Rowan and Martin people have nothing to do with it.” Martin Stone, an old friend of Doty’s got the original idea for the strip and asked him to do the operation, which Doty describes as a “McLuhan kind of comic strip which is unique in that it contains from 3 1/2 to seven gags a day.” Doty put together a representational package and Stone sold it to the syndicate.
Where Doty ever finds time to do his strip is one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe. His cartoons appear in Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Sports Illustrated, Better Homes and Gardens, Business Week, Holiday, Popular Science, Look and many others. He has illustrated over 25 books, including all the ones for Dear Abby, and has illustrated an upcoming humorous dog book which will be published in October by E. P. Dutton. He’s also done ad campaigns for Macy’s, Life, Time, American Express, Sports Illustrated and the Bowery Savings Bank. He’s had his own TV shows, both commercial and educational, and he’s done TV commercials for Eastman Kodak and Coca-Cola. He’s been a member of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Although he’s ineligible for any company’s pension plan this bothers him not a whit. His greatest achievement? “My totally unblemished work record! I have never held a job in my life and intend to keep it that way.” (Sounds like he’s worked harder freelancing than any two dozen gainfully employed commercial artists have in their “big push” ad campaigns.)
“I’ve worked for every magazine except National Geographic,” says the youngish old pro, “and would someday like to do an illustrated piece for them on Midtown Manhattan Birds. I can see it now, done in the old Audubon Society style:
The Fifth Avenue Pigeon-toed Walker; the Grey Striped Commuter; the Times Square Swish and many more. I think I’ll use them in my strip.” (Doty gets ideas 18 hours a day. He sleeps only 6.)
Doty tests his strips on his four kids before giving them his final O.K. The kids, ages 18 to 6 “think the strip’s funny—but they say it grudgingly.”
Born on September 10, 1922, in Chicago, he was brought up in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended art school and Ohio State, and began an early association with the Columbus Dispatch—first as newsboy, then as cartoonist.
During the Second World War he served in the Army in the European Theatre of Operations, where his cartoons appeared in Yank and Stars and Stripes. While overseas, he freelanced on the side for the London Daily Mail.
Doty lives in an ultra-modern all glass house he built himself in Stamford, Conn., with his authoress wife Jean (Slaughter) and the four children, not to mention three dogs, three horses, six Siamese cats and a few dead pheasants who insist on trying to fly through the Doty home’s picture window. “We have pheasant a few times a year,” says Doty, “and don’t have to bother picking out buckshot from the birds.” His hobbies include expensive foreign sports cars, hi-fi, and bowling. He’s active in local school affairs and charitable drives.
[for more on the Laugh-In comic strip, see this January 2007 Obscurity of the Day post]
Labels: News of Yore