Bluey and Curley is an Australian newspaper comic strip written by the Australian artist, caricaturist, and cartoonist Alex Gurney.
ln 1926 Gurney came to the mainland from Tasmania to try his luck as a full-time black and white artist. He did numerous cartoons including ‘Stiffy & Mo’. ‘Daggs’. ‘Ben Bowyang’ and daily political cartoons. By 1939 he was already well-established as a caricaturist, cartoonist, and comic strip artist.
In late 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, he created his most famous characters, Bluey and Curley, a daily cartoon strip for the Herald and Weekly Times. Its popularity during the war years was phenomenal.
Bluey, a World War One veteran, and Curley, a young exuberant recruit, meet in 1941 and serve together in every Australian campaign during WWII while maintaining their greatest antipathy for any figure in authority regardless of nationality or ideology.
By the end of the war, they had served in every Australian campaign — in North Africa, fighting the Germans in the Middle East, the Japanese in New Guinea, the Kokoda Trail, in Northern Australia, and in the Pacific Islands — and, once the war was over, they even went to London and took part in the 1946 Victory Parade – while continuing their own war against any authority figure, regardless of their rank, nationality, ideology or continent where they encountered them.
The strip was widely appreciated for the good-humoured way it depicted the Australian “diggers” and their “mateship”, as well as for its realistic use of Australian idiom of the day. Their adventures celebrate a familiar version of Australian society, logic and language.
The humour of the Bluey and Curley comic strips is the epitome of the sardonic Australian style, The jokes are good-natured, making fun of the rich or snobbish. The two characters are usually placed in situations of everyday life, allowing their audience to identify with them and their experiences, and allowing Australians to laugh at themselves rather than at others.
They had a healthy disregard for officers and regulations and were quick to bring down any mates who were getting too big for their boots. Despite their larrikin streak, they were fearless, resilient and skilled in battle.
Bluey and Curley epitomised what was seen as the typical Australian soldier. They liked a drink, a gamble and a chat (in colourful Aussie slang of course), and they always had some scheme afoot.
Few original Bluey and Curley strips are held in public collections, because, throughout his lifetime, Alex Gurney was renowned for his generous habit of giving the original artwork of his caricatures, cartoons, and comic strips to anyone who asked.
Alex Gurney produced the strip from 1940 until his death in 1955. It was syndicated across Australia and appeared in New Zealand, New Guinea, and Canada (but was considered too Australian for American newspapers).
Following Gurney’s death in 1955 the strip was taken over by Norm Rice in early 1956 but he died in a vehicle accident that year. Bluey and Curley was then taken over by cartoonist Les Dixon who drew these characters for 18 years until it was retired in 1975.