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Ray Billingsley

Ray Billingsley is the creator of the comic strip Curtis, which is printed in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.

Billingsley draws from real life, and the strip has the fresh quality of situational humor, mixed with melodrama, comedy, and pathos. The strip depicts the urban existence of Greg and Diane Wilkins, a black family that lives in a weathered brownstone. Eleven-year-old Curtis and his younger brother, Barry, are emblematic of pre-teens in the big city, navigating their way through adolescence and its delights and dangers.

Billingsley acknowledges that "Wee Pals" creator Morrie Turner, one of the first African-American cartoonists to receive national syndication, for opening the door for "Curtis" and other strips.

Billingsley was born in Wake Forest, N.C., and raised there and in New York City's Harlem. When he was 12 years old, he worked as an artist for Kids magazine.

After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he attended the School of Visual Arts there on a four-year scholarship. He began an internship at Walt Disney Studios in 1979. Billingsley drew a nationally syndicated strip called Lookin' Fine from 1979 to 1982. By 1988, he was freelancing in advertising and public relations; doing television commercials, posters and animation; and working for magazines such as Ebony. In October of that year, King Features Syndicate introduced Curtis.

Billingsley finds inspiration for the strip in his own childhood memories, conversations with friends and life at the local barbershop, where the folks talk everything from small-town gossip to big dreams and problems.

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Printed: August 23, 2017, 8:19 am
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