Born in Troy, Missouri, Robert Wilson McCoy studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, The American Academy, and the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, where he later served on the faculty. As a commercial artist, he made paintings for Liberty Magazine covers, calendars, prints, pin-ups and advertisements for major companies. When his friend Ray Moore served in the military during WWII, McCoy took over the responsibilities of illustrating the syndicated newspaper strip, 'The Phantom'. His wife, Dorothy, did the lettering.
In his artwork for this adventure comic, McCoy could draw from his own experiences as a world traveler, since he had visited far-off jungles and native tribes himself. McCoy continued to produce the strip with creator Lee Falk until his death from a heart attack in 1961, after which it was continued by Bill Lignante for a short while, and then Sy Barry. Wilson McCoy's popular work on 'The Phantom' has been featured in comic books and continues to be reprinted today.