From the National Cartoonist Society announcement:
The recipient of the cartooning profession’s highest honor, the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, is chosen by a secret ballot of the members of the National Cartoonists Society. The NCS is pleased to announce this year’s winner is the creator of the popular newspaper comic strip “Curtis”, American cartoonist, RayBillingsley.
The coveted award was presented to Mr. Billingsley online Saturday evening, October 16th at the finale of NCSFEST 2021, the virtual cartooning festival hosted by theNational Cartoonists Society and the NCS Foundation. In graciously accepting the award, Billingsley said “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe this has happened. I’d like to thank everyone who made this moment come true, thank everyone from the deepest part of my heart. I never thought I’d see this day.”
In an emotional moment, Billingsley expressed “This has been a huge step for me. And also a monumental step for the NCS, because I’m the first black guy to win the prestigious Reuben Award, and for that I am very grateful.” adding, “I wish creators like Morrie Turner and Ted Shearer, and Brumsic Brandon Jr. were here to see this.”
Ray has lived the life of a cartoonist.
Billingsley began his cartooning career at the very young age of twelve when he was discovered by “KIDS Magazine,” and hired as a staff artist. After graduating from The High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he attended The School of Visual Arts on a full four-year scholarship. Upon graduation in 1979 he began an internship at The Walt Disney Studios, but quickly landed his first nationally syndicated comic strip, “Lookin’ Fine,” which ran from 1980 to 1982 under United Features Syndicate. He spent the next few years working on various projects in the fields of animation, advertising, greeting cards, clothing design, and magazine cartooning, until 1988 when King Features Syndicate introduced the “Curtis” strip.
For some early Ray see Fun Stuff at his website.
For current Ray see Curtis at Comics Kingdom.
Curtis Comics are fun, but don’t expect the same-old, same-old from Ray. He is one of those cartoonists that like to play with the look of his art – and Ray art is great art.
NCS President Jason Chatfield commented, “Ray is such a talented cartoonist,and we’re thrilled to be able to honor him with our biggest award.
Congratulations to Ray for a well-deserved honor!
The Reuben award presentation and Ray’s acceptance speech
can be watched on the NCSFest Show