Author-illustrator Hector Curriel to speak at Nobles County Library in Worthington – The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Ace fighter pilot, Governor of South Dakota and TV host Joe Foss led an extraordinary life, and writer-illustrator Hector Curriel, who told his story in a graphic novel, will talk about Foss and his own work Monday at the Nobles County Library in Worthington.

“Everyone should come. I hope to see a lot of the friends I made when I was living in Worthington,” Curriel said. “I think if you have kids who are interested in art, bring them to class on graphic novels.”

He will give two talks at the library on Monday, one aimed at teens and focused on graphic novels from 4-4:45 p.m. and another for adults with more information about Foss from 6-7 p.m.

“American Ace: Joe Foss, Fighter Pilot” is Curriel’s first graphic novel, filled with 130 pages of dramatic black-and-white illustrations from Foss’ career as an unlikely fighter pilot during World War II.

Anyone who has left Sioux Falls Regional Airport has probably heard of Foss, as the facility is also known as Joe Foss Field, but its route to downing five enemy aircraft and earning its official “ace” status was unusual. .

At the start of the war, he joined the South Dakota National Guard and then the United States Marine Corps pilot training program. But when he was ready to become a fighter pilot, he was deemed too old for combat and was instead tasked with teaching young men how to fly. Time and time again he volunteered for special assignments, until he got a place in a combat unit and went to Guadalcanal. He shot down 26 enemy aircraft in less than a year, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor. He went on to become governor of South Dakota and later hosted “The American Sportsman” and “The Outdoorsman: Joe Foss” on television. He also served as Football Commissioner for the NFL’s rival American Football League.

The cover of “American Ace: Joe Foss, Fighter Pilot”, by Hector Curriel.

Photo submitted

Curriel, a visual artist who has illustrated several books and also does comics and caricatures as well as fine art, responded to a call for artwork from the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. For his proposed project, he went to the Sioux Falls Library, and they provided Foss’s autobiography.

“I started reading the book and was very involved in its story because it did such remarkable things,” Curriel said.

After reading the book, he started asking people what they knew about Joe Foss and discovered that most people had never heard of him. In order to make the story appealing to young people, Curriel opted for a graphic novel format for the project.

“I had a good response from people, not only in the United States but also in other countries,” he said.

To create the book, Curriel needed images that would engage people and keep them interested enough to keep reading the story.

“You really have to think about the cinema somehow, think about the angles and the views and make the story flow smoothly,” he said, as if it was a storyboard for a film instead of a conventional illustration for a text.

While he uses watercolors and acrylics for fine art, Curriel normally uses digital tools like ProCreate to illustrate books, so he can work on his iPad and take it anywhere. In this case, however, he recalled the great graphic novels of the 1950s and 1960s, which were usually printed in black and white.

As such, Curriel worked in ink, crafting the art by hand, creating dramatic images of pure light and deep shadow. While it was efficient, it was also time-consuming, and while he was interested in creating another graphic novel, he said he’d probably come back to digital work next time.

Curriel, originally from Peru, currently lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“When I came and stayed (in the United States), the first city I lived in was Worthington, so I have gratitude and appreciation for Worthington,” he said. declared. “I sometimes call it my hometown.”

Becoming an artist was his dream and passion from an early age, even though he actually has a background in architecture.

“There’s a career in that…be persistent and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself and what you do,” Curriel said, offering advice to potential artists. “It’s a question of training, every day. The more you practice, the better you will become as an artist.

He emphasized the importance of hard work and consistency over talent.

“Ninety percent try every day to work and learn from other artists, and find your own path,” he explained. “Be consistent and never give up.”

“American Ace: Joe Foss, Fighter Pilot” is available for purchase on Amazon, and for more information on Curriel, visit

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