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Ray Billingsley, Creator of the Comic Strip 'Curtis' to be Featured on CUTV News Radio

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT, UNITED STATES, April 17, 2018 / -- Comic strips may seem simple, but condensing an entire community of characters into just a few panels that tell a story with a beginning, middle and end is not easy. Do that seven days a week for 30 years and you join the rarefied company of Ray Billingsley.

Ray Billingsley is the creator of the groundbreaking syndicated comic strip Curtis, found in over 300 newspapers across the country. Curtis tells the story of Curtis Wilkins, an African-American 11-year-old boy living in the city with his mom, dad and younger brother, Barry. The strip will celebrate its 30th anniversary later this year.

“I happened to dream of this little black kid and his little brother,” says Billingsley. “Characters come when they're ready; they actually have to show up for work. Curtis appeared to me pretty much the way you see him now, but it took me about a year to develop him.”

When Curtis revealed himself in 1986, Billingsley the had already achieved modest success with his first strip Lookin’ Fine. He set high standards for himself before any syndicate people would see it. He knew how strict they could be.

“Whenever I work on a new strip, I gather up 365 ideas. If I can't get a year's worth of ideas, I won't move onto step two: drawing it,” recalls Billingsley. “With Curtis, the writing kept coming. New characters kept presenting themselves.”

Billingsley says the characters themselves come from his childhood growing up in Harlem. The character of his Curtis is based on Billingsley’s real life older brother, who would always devise elaborate schemes only to see them blow up in his face.

“I want the audience to actually care about the characters, to anticipate how that character's going to react like a friend. I want them to look at this character as a little bit more than a character.”

For today's hopefuls, Billingsley says they must not only be courageous, but dedicated. Delivering a daily comic strip takes more dedication than one might expect.

“The readers who are reading your work, don't care if you broke your arm, they expect to see your work,” says Billingsley. “But beyond that, if you really want to go worldwide, you've got to step outside of your boundaries. You have to be able to evolve on some level or you just won't make it.”

Given Billingsley’s distinction as one of only a few syndicated black comic strips, Curtis can engage topics other strips can’t touch. Curtis is well-known for its yearly Kwanzaa strips.

“Most strips have to be nice, sweet, politically correct. There's a lot of wise guy in me and it comes out in the strip,” says Billingsley. “But you're hoping that you can inspire people.

“I had no idea it would go this long. I'm most proud that I’ve been given an opportunity to be a part of so many people's lives over these many years,” says Billingsley. “I've made so many unseen friends doing this little strip. Curtis has taken me everywhere.”

So, what would Billingsley say to Curtis if he could have a real conversation with him?

“I'd thank him very much and tell him to knock it off!”

CUTV News Radio will feature Ray Billingsley in an interview with Doug Llewelyn on April 19th at 10am EDT.

Listen to the show on BlogTalkRadio.

If you have a question for our guest, call (347) 996-3389.

For more information on Billingsley Art, visit

Lou Ceparano
(631) 850-3314
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