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October 2, 2013

Sol M. Davidson, 1925-2013

imageSol M. Davidson, the groundbreaking scholar whose late-1950s dissertation is believed to be the first scholarly work by a North American academic about comics in American culture, died on September 19 in Delray Beach, Florida. He was 88 years old.

Davidson was born in New Jersey, served in the Navy for two years, received his undergraduate degree in Louisiana and attended NYU for his master's and PhD work. His 1959 dissertation -- one citation says it was completed in 1958 -- was called Culture And The Comic Strips. Fifty years later, Davidson might have had opportunities in program set up to include scholarly inquiry into the form, but in the late 1950s was not an option. He split his professional career between Morristown, New Jersey and Des Moines, Iowa. He was involved in civic functions in both communities.

Davidson would later publish The Cultivation Of Imperfection in 1965, The Power Of Friction In Business in 1967 and, with his wife Penny, Wild Jake Hiccup: The History Of America's First Frontiersman in 1991.

Davidson seemed to have maintained a significant interest in comics, intermittently expressed. An article on educational comics can be found here. The academic Bart Beaty recalls meeting Davidson at an ICAF several years ago. A collection of his eclectic interests in comics' roots and uses was made to the University of Florida, and can be explored as The Sol And Penny Davidson Collection. An image from that collection appears in the body of this piece.

Davidson is survived by his wife, Penny, three sons, a number of grandchildren and one grandchild. Services were held on September 22nd in Boynton Beach.
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