HEAT ALERT

Extreme heat settles in Connecticut. Heat advisory issued for parts of Connecticut through Thursday

Made in Connecticut: Ray Billingsley gives a glimpse into his creative process behind the comic strip "Curtis"

Inspired by his own family dynamics, Ray brought Curtis and his family to life—modeled after his own experiences and relationships.

Rebecca Surran

Jun 4, 2024, 11:20 AM

Updated 14 days ago

Share:

In this week’s “Made in Connecticut,” Ray Billingsley, the creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip "Curtis," invites us into his Stamford studio for a glimpse into his creative process.
"Curtis allows me to express myself freely because I am a quiet person," says Billingsley.
In Ray's words, few have heard his voice, but he speaks to millions—43 million, in fact—who read his daily, syndicated comic strip, Curtis. Born from his childhood experiences in Harlem, New York, Ray's journey into the world of comics began at a young age.
"I grew up under a very strict father. And because of the strictness, I spent most of my time in my room just drawing all day, always drawing," recalls Billingsley.
By the age of 12, Ray was drawing for a children's magazine, eventually winning a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Despite an opportunity to work for Disney as an animator, Ray's desire was to create his own comic strip.
"The whole conception of Curtis was that it was one night. I had a dream about these two little animated characters. One was a little boy with a hat and one was his little brother," explains Billingsley.
Inspired by his own family dynamics, Ray brought Curtis and his family to life—modeled after his own experiences and relationships. While Ray never had the relationship with his own father like Curtis does, he found support and mentorship from luminaries like Mort Walker, co-creator of Beetle Bailey, and Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts.
"One of my adopted dads. OK. Schulz knew a lot that was going on in my life, a lot of bad stuff that was happening. And he took me under his wing," reflects Billingsley.
With Schulz's guidance, Ray soared in the world of cartooning, winning the prestigious Reubens award in 2020. Now in its 36th year, "Curtis" continues to tackle a range of topics, always remaining true to its characters and offering readers a brief escape.


More from News 12