Dowd is a writer, illustrator, curator and critic who publishes on the history of illustration and cartooning. Dowd is project leader of Serious Thinking About Popular Pictures for the Society of Fellows at the Rockwell Center. He is Professor of Art & American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and the Faculty Director of the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, renamed in his honor in 2016.
On the editorial side his book Stick Figures: Drawing as a Human Practice was published by Spartan Holiday Books and the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. He co-edited Strips, Toons, and Bluesies: Essays in Comics and Culture with Todd Hignite and published by Princeton Architectural Press. Dowd publishes the illustrated journal Spartan Holiday, a non-fiction serial tracking his travels to diverse locations, including Shanghai, China, and the Utah desert. (http://spartanholiday.com). He’s also a contributing author in national and international journals and publications including “Everyman, Meet Somebody: Characterization and Melodrama in Rockwell’s Four Freedoms” for Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms published by Abberville Press and History of Illustration published by Fairchild Books.
As an artist and writer his fine books and prints are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Walker Art Center and the Fogg Museum at Harvard University.