In the new issue of The Magnet, I wish the late illustrator Roy Doty a happy birthday. Roy was best known for his "Worldless Workshop" comic, which ran for 62 years in Popular Science and The Family Handyman. I had the great pleasure of getting to know him when he became a regular contributor to Make magazine, which I edited.
When I was 10 or 11, I would often walk to my next-door neighbor Dean's house, sit on his basement floor, and pore over his massive collection of Popular Science magazines dating back to the 1950s. The magazine was much different than its current incarnation. It was geared towards do-it-yourselfers and people who enjoyed learning about how everyday things worked, such as air conditioners, water meters, golf balls, and retaining walls. Every issue was crammed with odd little items about new inventions, small ads for all sorts of weird things, stunningly good illustrations, and handy hints for doing things faster, cheaper, and better.
I liked everything about the magazine, and my favorite part was the regular comic called "Wordless Workshop." It first appeared in the July 1953 issue and, keeping with the stereotypes of the era, featured a Leave It To Beaver family. Every episode had a similar setup: one of the parents or one of the kids was shown experiencing some kind of problem around the house. The dad would pinch his chin and stare dreamily at the ceiling for a while, and then a light bulb would appear over his head. He'd retreat to his workshop, put on his shop apron, and construct something ingenious and elegant to save the day.