Thursday, May 19, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Mike Roy

Mike Roy was born Joseph Michel Grenier in Montreal, Canada, on January 22, 1921. Roy’s birthplace was on his Social Security application and his birth name was recorded on a list of aliens traveling from Canada to the United States. Roy was accompanied by his parents, Napoleon and Marie Anne Grenier. On October 24, 1923, the family entered the U.S. at Island Pond, Vermont, and were headed for Lisbon, Maine.

 Joseph Michel Grenier on line 5

Before Roy’s emigration, the 1921 census of Canada recorded five-month-old Roy as “Joseph Mickel Greiner”. The spelling was the work of the enumerator. Roy and his parents, Napoleon, 32, and Marie Anne, 26, lived in St-Isidore, Dorchester, Quebec.

The 1930 U.S. Federal Census recorded Roy’s parents in Lewiston, Maine. His father was a carpenter. Roy was not in his parents’ household. According to the census, there was a “Michel Grenier”, about the same age, who lived at the orphanage, Healy Asylum, in Lewiston.

The 1940 census listed Roy in the Bronx, New York City, at 560 Eagle Avenue. His mother was the half-sister of Adjutor J. Roy, a French Canadian who was the head of the household and employed as a railroad ticket agent. In the census, “Michael Roy” was an adopted son and cartoonist who, at the time, had completed three years of high school. All three had been at the same location since 1935. The status of Roy’s biological father is not known. 

Michael Roy on line 21

Dr. Michael J. Vassallo interviewed artist Allen Bellman who remembered Roy.
MV: Was there anyone else you went to school [High School of Industrial Arts] with who later worked in the business?

AB: Yes, there was another fellow there with us at school who while still a student did a Sub-Mariner story. His name was Mike Roy. He was looked upon as a big shot at school. He had done a “real” comic book feature! (Laughs).

MV: Mike Roy was drawing for either Goodman or Jacquet while in high school?

AB: Yes and he was real good, much better than we were at that time.
Who’s Who of American Comics Books 1928–1999 said Roy contributed to comic books from 1940 into the early 1990s.

During World War II, Roy, under the name Joseph M. Roy, 
enlisted in the army on December 4, 1942. His occupation was commercial artist who had three years of college. According to Who’s Who, Roy attended Pratt Institute. The Washington Post said Roy was a paratrooper in the D-Day invasion of Normandy where he was wounded twice. Later, French-speaking Roy was an Army interpreter in France and Belgium. Roy was discharged December 6, 1945.

Roy’s step-father also registered for the draft. Adjutor was 45 years old and resided, with his half-sister, at 572 Eagle Avenue, the Bronx. Adjutor was employed at the New York City Rapid Transit Company. After the war, Adjutor became a naturalized citizen on May 2, 1949.

Around 1947, Roy married Adrienne Louise Mootafian (1923–2009). She should not be confused with Adrienne Roy (1953–2010) the comic book colorist.

The Post said Roy moved, in 1950, to Washington, DC where he worked with the U.S. Information Agency.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Leslie Charteris’s character, The Saint, was adapted as a comic strip. Roy drew the strip from September 27, 1948 to October 13, 1951. From time to time, Roy had inking assists by John Belfi, Sam Burlockoff and Jack Davis*. Roy ghosted the strip, Ken Winston from March 14 to July 30, 1955. The Nero Wolfe strip was handled by Roy who worked on it from November 26, 1956 to July 13, 1957. Through Roy’s syndication company, Royal Features, he produced Hoss Laffs which debuted December 14, 1959. Roy’s Sunday strip, Akwas, began June 7, 1964. Along with the topper, Indian Lore and Crafts, both ended March 28, 1965.

Roy was a member of the National Cartoonists Society.

Roy passed away March 25, 1996 in Springfield, Virginia. His Social Security application had his full name as Joseph Michael Roy. The Post published an obituary on March 28, 1996.

* The National Cartoonist, Volume 1, Number 2, “Jack Davis on the Comics Page”,
page 28: You ended up inking The Saint.

I’d heard they need someone to ink The Saint at the Herald-Tribune. I rushed down there with my portfolio and they gave me some strips. I got the job, and worked with Mike Roy for a year. It was good training. Again, I was making a little more than a $100 a week. I was thinking about getting married and things were rolling right along and then the Herald-Tribune folded, and I was out on the street again.

—Alex Jay


There's an infamous story of how later Batman artist Lew Sayre Schwartz was originally hired to produce THE SAINT but Schwartz and Leslie Charteris mixed like oil and water. When Leslie criticized Lew's ability to draw hands, Lew quit. When I interviewed him back in 2004, he showed me the month's worth of strips he had drawn, but Leslie opted for a different story for syndication and Mike Roy was hired. Scwartz's work was sold as a set and will hopefully see print some day.
In the 1960's, Roy was VP of a now-defunct Washington, DC organization called the American Indian and Eskimo Cultural Foundation, which was founded by artist Solomon McCombs.
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