By Sarah Blow, contributing writer
Longtime Valley Reporter cartoonist Keith Davidson developed an interest in art at a young age. He was encouraged by his father who taught him how to draw and supplied him with cameras for his other passion, filmmaking.
As a child, Davidson always knew he wanted to be a cartoonist and was sold on the idea following an exchange of letters with his childhood idol, Charles M. Schulz, the cartoonist and creator of “Peanuts.”
“I wrote to Charles M. Schulz and I said, “My brother the blockhead says that there is some character named Peanuts in your cartoon and I told him he doesn't know what he’s talking about. Please straighten him out,” he said.
Months later on a December day in 1967, 10-year-old Keith Davidson received a hand-signed letter from his cartoon idol, Charles M. Schulz.
The letter thanked him for taking the time to write and assured him that he was correct; there is no character named Peanuts in the iconic cartoon.
“I was in a dream bliss state. I couldn’t believe my idol actually wrote me,” he said.
The Mount Tabor, New Jersey, native continued to pursue his artistic passions as he grew older and spent a year at Syracuse University studying fine arts, drawing the occasional caricature of his professors during class.
Davidson began working at The Valley Reporter in 1992, after seeing an ad published in the paper seeking a graphic artist. He began drawing comics and working on advertisements as well as a plethora of other tasks, including the weekly Chinese food run on Wednesdays.
His first comic featured in the paper was of Elvis Presley who was rumored to still be alive at the time despite his death in 1977.
“There was something about Elvis still being alive. The first cartoon I did was Elvis slipping something into his tax returns. It was Elvis Presley incognito,” he said.
Although he is no longer a salaried employee, the Moretown resident continues to supply The Valley Reporter with its weekly cartoon and has no plans to stop.
“I hope I get to do it forever,” he said.
The cartoonist is also a fine art painter and works on personal projects in his free time. As for the future, Davidson hopes to soon publish a book with his accumulation of 30 years of comics, a project that has been a longtime coming.
“It’s about 10 or five years in the making,” he said.
Davidson promised his father, his first art teacher and total inspiration, that he would publish a book of his comics. Although his father passed away last year at 96, he intends to keep that promise.
Sarah Blow is a student in UVM’s Community News Service which pairs student writers with local newspapers.