Sam the Dog Has His Say Art Professor D.B. Dowd Has Unleashed His Bewildering Brand of Satire in `Metro Trap'

By John M. McGuire Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 22, 1997 | Go to article overview

Sam the Dog Has His Say Art Professor D.B. Dowd Has Unleashed His Bewildering Brand of Satire in `Metro Trap'


John M. McGuire Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


DESPITE STORIES that he lives in a hollowed-out bridge footing on the river's edge, "Sam the Dog" really resides on the third floor of the old Leather Trades Building, 1602 Locust Street. It's a lurching ride up in a vintage Otis elevator operated by Leon Haskin, a man who could well be part of Sam's scene.

Sam romps on the op-ed page of the Saturday Post-Dispatch editorial section in a satirical panel drawn by a 36-year-old assistant art professor at Washington University, a printmaker from the football-crazed town of Massillon, Ohio.

"Sam the Dog" and other assembled characters (Catland Phisch, Dr. Gnu, Parker Longsnout IV and Ramses LeCube) rattle about inside the cranium - fringed by curly red hair and a high brow - of D.B. Dowd, father of two s ons, Daniel, 9, and Andrew, 7. The Dowds live in Clayton. But Douglas Bevan Dowd is not a St. Louis Dowd, although there is a spooky similarity. The Dowd clan of St. Louis, Democratic and Irish-Catholic, inhabits just about every level of the Missouri judicial system - from workmen's comp to circuit to state appellate courts, and one of these Dowds is the U.S. attorney. These Dowds came out of an immigrant family of police officers. The Massillon Dowds - Doug Dowd is third of four children - have a fa ther who was the Stark County district attorney, and is now a federal judge. So the public-office Dowd strain stretches all the way to Ohio. But they are of the English-Presbyterian-Republican variety. Doug Dowd has an older sister in Cleveland, a widow; an older brother, a corporate lawyer in Birmingham, Ala., and a younger brother doing point of sales work in Massillon. His mother is deceased. So the direction of his life is a real departure for a Dowd. And his journey to where he is now was a herky-jerky one, befitting the father of "Sam the Dog." First, you have to know about Massillon, once known as Football Town U.S.A. It's the hometown of the old NFL titan, the late Paul Brown, founder of the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown coached Massillon's Washington High School from 1932-40, with his last six teams winning state titles. Four of those teams were acclaimed national champions. The annual game between the Massillon Tigers and Canton McKinley is about the biggest event of the year. "Culturally, it still is this way," said Dowd, as an impish grin formed. "Every child born in Massillon is given a plastic football. There are 30,000 people in the town, and the high school football stadium seats 20,000. You are required to attend." In fact, Massillon figured in some earlier print works of Dowd's, notably his book, "Cry from Mustardville," an impressive collection of linoleum cuts inspired by his hometown. Dowd came out of Massillon High as a National Merit Scholar, and went off to Kenyon, one of Ohio's more prestigious small colleges. After graduation, he knocked around New York, working as a jewelry salesman at Saks Fifth Avenue. After that, he moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., to work as a script writer for a video production company. It was there that he met his wife, Lori, who now has her own video firm here, Dowd Creative Services. "I literally married a gal from Kalamazoo," he said of her hometown. In 1989, he got a master's in printmaking at the University of Nebras ka. There, he met his current studio mates at the Leather Trades Building, fellow printmaker Patrick Reuschen and Kevin Garber, who makes architectural tiles. Reuschen and Dowd created a printmaking operation called the Charles Bevan Press. "The name is a composite ancestor, an invention," says Dowd. From 1989 through '92, the Dowds traveled the continent. It was a strange odyssey that began in Tarkio, Mo., where Doug was an assistant art professor at scandal-ridden Tarkio College. "I got there the penultimate year of Tarkio's existence, and the Post-Dispatch was instrumental in its demise," he said. The newspaper had reported on a series of financial misadventures and misdeeds at Tarkio. …

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