I began to draw Curly back in the summer of 2011, it started off with loose sketches and idéas, however, I did not have a fully formed concept that was manageable. That all changed after a stroke landed me a nice uncomfy bed at the local hospital. When you are in a hospital, times starts to move at a slow crawl and the highlights of the day consist of the mealtimes. The space in between is just like filler episodes of a telly series, empty and mostly boring after a while and not advancing the plot even the slightest.
Left alone with my own thoughts, I started to combine different concepts and idéas that I had over the years for a supernatural comic. I had one character that was cursed by gypsies (classic, cliché, done to death but still salvageable) and another about a selfish traveling con artist, just living a dishonest but eventful life. For the first character, I had many things figured out storywise, but the protagonist had no visual elements that distinguished him or any kind of backstory. The con artist had all of that but no story to be thrown into. What a gordian knot!
So of course, when I had an infinite time every day to just think, ponder and muse I had the epiphany to combine the two characters into one, and lo and behold, Curly was born! After that most of his misadventures were writing themselves in my head and when they wheeled me out the front door (not really, we do not have that custom in Sweden, I skipped out on crutches…) I was ready to start writing and drawing!
…and yet not. The fine motor skills in my hands were blown to heck, me life was forever changed and blah blah. You know the story, we do not have to digress more than we already have.
Artistically speaking I was strongly influenced at the time by Floyd Gottfredson, nowadays mostly known for his Mickey Mouse comics back in the early 30’s and about 45 years forward. His flowing motions, telling facial expressions and the way to draw big black eyes had me caught. I decided to add some elements of his style when designing Curly while letting most other characters be drawn with normal eyes. This is to distinguish Curly visually and give him a unique look. It’s an aesthetic choice that may or may not come back and haunt me later, anyhow, I am rather pleased how the design turned out.
The sum of this wall of text is that art kinda saved me. I have always loved comics and concept art so when I was as most ill, I would dwell on sites such as creaturebox.com, Skottie Young’s Marvel comics, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy etc. and study every line and shadow drawn. I wanted to draw again, I wanted to improve. So I started sketching, and drawing and breaking pens in frustration. The first Curly chapter, Lonely Ghost, came from this struggle, and it was my therapy. Sure, that chapter kinda looks like a unpolished turd in a homemade tuxedo, but it is my unpolished turd in a… erhm… well, you get my point, I hope… Will I redraw it one day? Perhaps, but as for right now, it is a reminder of where I started off and how far I have come since then. I still have a long way left, but life is a road, right? And roads are meant to be traveled.