Illustrator and cartoonist Roy McKie, best known for his several children’s book collaborations with Dr. Seuss, died on January 8 in New Holland, Pa. He was 93.
McKie was born and grew up in Medford, Mass. He studied at Vesper George School of Art in Boston, and while a student there won a prestigious Prix de Rome award that afforded him a fellowship to study art in Rome. WWII prevented him from taking advantage of the prize and he instead pursued further art training at the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island.
McKie worked as a commercial artist for a studio in Boston and for N.W. Ayer & Son advertising agency in Philadelphia before working as a freelance illustrator in New York, and for a brief time in London. During those early career-building years, he had two children with his first wife Lois, though they divorced in the early 1960s. In 1964, McKie married his second wife, June Reynard, a fellow artist, with whom he relocated to New Holland in 2010 (from New York), and who survives him.
In a 2013 interview, McKie recalled how his illustration work for and friendship with legendary Random House publisher Bennett Cerf led to an introduction to “Ted” Geisel, who was looking for an illustrator. Geisel and McKie hit it off, and as a result, McKie provided artwork for several titles by Dr. Seuss/Theo. LeSieg in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many of them in the Beginner Books line, including My Book About Me, by Me Myself! (Random House/Beginner Books, 1969) and Ten Apples Up on Top! (Random House/Beginner Books, 1961).
In recent years, he took delight in finding his books on local library shelves. As he told Lancaster Online, “It’s nice to have a book. It doesn’t change. People will find [books] 100 years from now. Books won’t go away, I think.”