Sunnyshore Studio is thrilled to announce it’s next book project Queen of Montana Beach written by Toni McCarty. It tells the story of the matriarch of our family of artists, Fanny Y. Cory. It is scheduled to be released Saturday October 14th. The release of Queen of Montana Beach will correspond with a documentary on the life of Fanny Y. Cory and a Sunnyshore Studio art show of her illustrations, art and cartoons.

Toni has researched and written a very readable, very entertaining story. We caught up with her to get to know her better and to find out what inspired her to write Queen of Montana Beach: the story of Fanny Y. Cory. 

Sunnyshore Studio: Toni, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you got started in writing.

Toni: I live in Santa Barbara, California with my husband Seymour Weisberg and I have three grown children, Rhonda, Aaron and Phillip.

After studying teaching at Washington State University and the University of Washington, I dropped out of school and started my family. In the mid-seventies I returned to school, obtaining a degree in Filmstudies from University of California at Santa Barbara and later a law degree from Santa Barbara College of Law.

Most of the writing I’ve done has been for performance, from musical comedy to film scripts, even to puppet shows.  In fact, it was as a puppeteer for the City of Minneapolis that I gathered material for a book published by Delacorte Press in 1981, The Skull in the Snow, illustrated by Katherine Colville.  It was written as a folktale book with strong female heroines.  Now in Fanny Cory we have a real life heroine.

Sunnyshore Studio: How did you discover F.Y. Cory?

Toni: By luck I picked up Trina Robbins book The Great Women Cartoonists and there she was.  I was immediately fascinated with her story and intrigued with her art.  I went to the website hosted by Fanny’s grandson Robert Dodson to learn more. It was the beginning.

Sunnyshore Studio: What drew you to her story?

Toni: The quality of her art spoke to me and made me wonder why I hadn’t heard of her before.  Then when I learned of her tragedies as well as her triumphs, I thought her story should be told and that her art be shared with others.  Her vibrant personality and unfailing humor attracted me, as did  her vivid imagination and her undying perseverance. As a mother myself, I was amazed at all she accomplished while devotedly raising three children.

Toni 19 

Sunnyshore Studio: How would you describe F.Y. Cory?

Toni: Raised in poverty, Fanny Cory became a well-known illustrator in the early years of the twentieth century, appearing in the top magazines of the day, and illustrating the works of authors such as L .Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll.  She was one of the few women artists in her day to make it a man’s world.  Living  on an isolated ranch by a lake in Montana, she raised three children with her husband Fred Cooney.

When contracts began to fall off, and hard times hit the ranch, Fanny had to come up with something new.  Her efforts paid off; she became one of the first woman cartoonists, and continued to be syndicated until she retired at age  79.

Known to have a sunny disposition and an infectious laugh, Fanny did suffer from depression more than once. But her optimistic nature won out.  And although she devoted herself to her family above all else, she still kept her art alive.

 Sunnyshore Studio: Is there a message to your biography of F.Y. Cory? If so, what is it?

Toni: The message: Fanny Cory was an extraordinary artist and she deserves to be recognized.

Sunnyshore Studio: Tell us the history behind writing this story? When did you begin? How did you do the research? Etc.

Toni: As I researched her story, I got the idea it would make a good one-woman theatre piece.  I wrote to Bob Dodgson for permission and he kindly gave me the go-ahead.  But as I got deeper into it, it seemed that a book would b a better vehicle for displaying her art, and I changed my goal.

Though researching online brought more material, I knew the most important sources would be her family.   In 2006 I met Sayre Dodgson, Fanny’s daughter, and Fanny’s grandchildren, Margaret Day, Robert Dodgson, Ann Cory Dorsey and Buddy Dodgson in Sayre’s home in Stanwood, Washington.  After interviews with them, my husband and I traveled to Helena, Montana, to speak with Fanny’s son Bob Cooney and his wife Carol.  (I was extremely fortunate to meet both Sayre and Bob before they passed away.) While in Helena, I did research at the Montana Historical Society Museum and was  helped by Kirby Lambert to copy some of her correspondence.   The family also provided correspondence and access to her personal papers including notes for an autobiography, in addition to both audio and video recordings.  As I typed each chapter. I shared it with Fanny’s grandchildren for their comments which were very helpful and encouraging.

Sunnyshore Studio: How does it feel to have Queen of Montana Beach about to be published.

Toni: I feel gratified that Fanny Cory will be introduced to new fans.

F Y Cory

Queen of Montana Beach by Toni McCarty

Book release and signing on Saturday, October 14th at Sunnyshore Studio’s art show and documentary release that celebrates the life and cultural legacy of Fanny Y. Cory.

2803 S. E. Camano Drive, Camano Island, WA 98282

Leave a Reply