Ray Billingsley wins the Reuben Award

The creator of the comic strip ‘Curtis’ is the first African-American cartoonist to win the Reuben Award.

Ray Billingsley, creator of the long-running comic strip Curtis, has won the 2021 Reuben Award. He’s the first Black man to win the award since it was first established in the 1940s.

“This has been a huge step for me, and also a momentous step for the NCS because I’m the first Black guy to win the prestigious Reuben Award, and for that I’m very grateful,” Billingsley said in his acceptance speech. “This has been a very long journey, and I have literally lived my life on a deadline.”

Billingsley started his career drawing for KIDS Magazine when he was 12. After college and an internship with Disney, he went on to work on the nationally syndicated strip Lookin’ Fine, which ran from 1980 to 1982. He has also worked in animation, advertising and for various magazines and greeting card companies. Curtis launched in 1988 at King Feature Syndicate and is still published today. You can read it on the Comic Kingdom website.

You can watch the announcement of Billingsley’s win below, which includes his acceptance speech:

The National Cartoonists Society announced the award on YouTube as a part of the virtual NCSFest activities this weekend. Unfortunately some video issues kept their livestream from displaying correctly on their website, but many of the sessions can now be found on their YouTube channel.

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