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Meet Alex Curney^Creator I
Of Bluey & Curley!
Alex Gurney is an amiable, moon-faced man Who fishes and creates Bluey and Curley, those carefree characters who fought through the Middle East, through New Guinea and the islands, went to London for the Victory March, and won't behave sedately as civilians.
They comprise one of Australia's most popular comic strips, appear in every Australian State and haye been a feature of The Sun- day Times comic section for the past Gi years.
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riURNEY did bis own bit of
^sleeping on park benches
before he got his daily fan circle of a few millions.
Now he works 6 nours a day 6 days a week, in a studio looking on to his garden at Elwood, Vic- toria, and he goes to the city only
S or 4 times a month.
ït is a comfortable, unkempt Studio with a pile of drawmg paper on the floor, and fishing roos and*two guns and an old coat and waders lying around.
Zn the afternoons the youngest of his 4 children, a girl of 4, strolls in from kindergarten and while Gurney goes on working they talk away, neither "taking particular notice of what the other is saying.
Gurney grew up in the outskirts
of Hobart, where the country was just over the back fence. The Tas- manian hydro-electric scheme was the great thing in those days, and Gurney got a job in it as an el- ectrical apprentice.
He could draw a bit, end had a few sketches accepted by the Bul- letin, Punch and some of the Tas- manian papers. Drawing, he thought would be & better life than the hydroelectric, when el- ectricians were queued up waiting for promotion at 2 a penny.
He went to drawing classes at nights for a year, had a book of Tasmanian identities published, resigned from the electrical works arid went to Melbourne.
He asked the Age for an artist's job. It wouldn't have him. He went around to the Morning Post, and asked to see the news editor, and showed him his Tasmanian sket- ches.
The news editor saidr "I don't know these people. Do the chief sub-editor."
The chief sub-editor in & news- paper is a very busy man and all the time he is working against
Gurney, came to the room he'd been told to find, and went in.
"Shut the door," said the chief sub-editor, and went on working. People hurried in and out and Gurney side-steppear arid finally
Artist Alex Gurney is here shown with clay models of his famous comic characters.
he drifted out, into the next room, where there was nobody.
Then he grot his pocket knife and cut the hole in the card-board partition, pulled up a chair and made his drawings, and took it back to the news editor.
The news editor looked. at the drawings, looked at Gurney, and said, "How did you see him to do this?" Gurney told him.
"You're hired," said the news editor. It was' for small illustra- tions and caricatures.
The Morning Post ceased pub- lication and Gurney went to Syd- ney. He got a job on the Sydney Sunday Times, doing a full-page colored comic about a country boy who was always in trouble.
The depression closed the Times. There was bit. of work here, a bit there, and little money. Dozens of artists were out of work. Nights on the Domain benches camé
Later he got a job on the Daily Telegraph, doing a political car-
Then the Lang storm worked up to a climax in which the Gover- nor sacked the Premier. Gurney laid into Lang. The editor gave him a 9-inch square on the front page every day during the last 2 weeks, and gave him his head. .
The Melbourne Herald watched that work and offered Gurney a political cartoonist's job, invited him to go to the Adelaide link in ^ its chain of newspaper interests. < He worked there for 2 years, then
went to Melbourne to do the Her- ald cartoons.
Prom cartooning he moved to j create Ben Bowyang, returning i later to cartooning.
Bluey and Curley began in 1940. They were cheerful drongos from the start, seldom out of trouble, seldom properly dressed, always talking a pithy slang.
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COME people^have claimed ^ to be the original Bluey i and Curley, but Gurney says there
never were two originals.
They and their friends are al- most everybody who was a private. They're those 2 fellows in Tobruk, the 2 who were in the next tent , in 1943, those 2 in the next land i ing barge in 1945. They were in Canadian papers when Austra- lian airmen were mere under the
Empire Air Training Scheme in South African papers, in "AIP News" in the Middle East, and in "Guinea Gold."
Sometimes the Brass grieved that Bluey and Curley were af- fecting discipline by making fun of the sergeants.
Gurney mildly mentioned the numbers of sergeants' messes that had written asking if they could haye an original sketch when a sergeant was in the fun.
When the Ninth came back from the Middle East, the Brass ran a stern campaign to smarten up Army dressing and saluting. It said Bluey and Curley should set the example, and put the word on Gurney. Bluey and Curley were immaculate for weeks.
Gurney still gets a touch of malaria from New Guinea. He travelled all over North Australia and New Guinea, sketching, jot- ting down dialogue, coming back to do a supply of strips in ad- vance, and going away to the troops again.
Some of the best and simplest jokes take most drawing.
There was one about Bluey and* Curley escorting an endless stream of Italian prisoners across the
"Look here, Tony, If you keep dragging my rifle in the dust, I won't let you carry it," said Bluey.
That stream of prisoners took 9 hours to draw. There are short cuts, but Gurney doesn't use them.
He usually sits down and thinks where Bluey and Curley could'be. Then he thinks out who could be there, what could happen, what could be said, and gradually he polishes up the idea until he is ready to draw.
He says it's a hard grind, and he's never an idea ahead of the paper on his drawing-board.
That's why he fishes so often. It's a complete break, he says. If it's not fishing, it's shooting.
Often nowadays you'll see the civilian Bluey and Curley in the country. Gurney loves to draw the,
country, the place over the back fence when he was a boy»
You seldom see Gurney in any-1 thing but slacks and sports coat. Bluey and Curley have friends who often do appear in smart
suits, but they're high-falutin' fel lows, officer-type. Good eggs, though.
America has inquired for the rights to print Bluey and Curley, if Mr. Gurney will please stop them talking Australian slang.
Mr. Gurney refuses to do that. Gurney is a happy man.
He sometimes doesn't sign his name on an informal note, but
draws instead, a smiling circle , with round spectacles. He did it on a cheque once. The bank paid.