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Farewell to Roy Doty & Wordless Workshop[TM].

We're sorry to report that our friend Roy Doty, the creator of Wordless Workshop, passed away this year at the age of 93.

Roy was one of America's most prolific and longest-working cartoonists. He got his start after art school, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was drafted into the Army and began drawing cartoons for "Why We Fight," "Overseas Woman" and "Stars and Stripes." Wordless Workshop is only one piece of his huge portfolio, but it's unique. It is the longest-running syndicated comic strip by a single artist in American history: nearly 60 years.

Wordless Workshop began in Popular Science in 1954. When Popular Science decided to drop it, The Family Handyman picked it up without missing a single month of publication. For the past 26 years, Roy created an original Wordless Workshop every month for us. It was lots of fun working with him, hearing his stories and just knowing him. And based on the fan mail we receive, we know all of you and your children and grandchildren will miss him as much as we do.

Roy's inspiration--you!

Roy had a unique window into the minds of The Family Handyman readers because of the dozens of ideas he received from them every month. Each one of their sketches, diagrams and problem-solving ideas was a slice of Americana. Roy read those letters and studied people's clever solutions to problems, then chose which ones to illustrate. A few of the most popular categories are on the following page.

4 favorite Wordless Workshop[TM] categories


PVC pipe revolutionized plumbing. It also revolutionized the Wordless PVC contributions from readers. And why not? PVC is a material that's cheap, simple to cut and join, and then configure into anything short of a nuclear submarine. Roy and I would have to occasionally say to each other, "Man, oh, man, we've already done three PVC projects this year; we'd better hold on to this idea for an issue or two." The irony is that PVC pipe hadn't even been invented when Roy started Wordless Workshop.

Lawn and garden

It's no surprise that gardening is a major passion for our readers. And you can see that reflected in the number of garden projects that Roy selected from the contributions. He wasn't all that interested in it himself, but Wordless topics weren't driven by Roy's hobbies; they were driven by contributor ideas. (If it had been all about Roy, you'd have seen a whole lot more stuff about golf!)

Storage and organization

Judging from the volume of storage and organizing submissions, the average Handyman reader is more organized than the Library of Congress. So that might be why the topic has been the dominant theme of Wordless Workshop since 1990. And if you study Roy's workstation on p. 49, you'll see that he too was a pretty organized guy.

High tech

Roy wasn't exactly a high-tech kinda guy. In fact, until a few years ago, we couldn't even e-mail him! But he eventually started faxing layouts instead of mailing them, and in the last few years, he actually scanned and emailed me layouts to review. And when it came to illustrating projects for high-tech devices like tablets, laptops and charging stations, he was all over it. He followed the whole high-tech march, beginning with projects for organizing vinyl records, then eight-track cassettes, VHS tapes, audiocassettes, CDs and DVDs.

The first Wordless Workshop appeared in our magazine in February 1990. Back then (maybe you remember), there were these quaint things called paper drives. This was Roy's way to simplify getting newspapers ready for the paper drive.

by Travis Larson
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Author:Larson, Travis
Publication:The Family Handyman
Article Type:In memoriam
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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