SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Chris Browne didn’t just make readers around the world laugh at the exploits of Hägar the Horrible. He was also an inspiration to a new generation of artists and illustrators, including one here in Sioux Falls. Browne died last week at the age of 70. A good friend of his is crediting Browne for helping establish his own career.

Hector Curriel was very familiar with Chris Browne’s Hägar the Horrible long before he moved from South America to South Dakota.

“When I lived in Peru, I read his strips, always in Spanish at the time. Yeah, his humor is so, I put it on the level with Peanuts, in my opinion, they are on the same level, the quality of art,” Curriel said.

The two artists crossed paths when they both lived in Sioux Falls. Curriel would seek out Browne’s advice early-on.

“When you start a career like this, it’s hard to know how good you are. To hear from him in a very honest and appraise my art and give encouragement and direction in how I can move in this business. He was so important for me,” Curriel said.

This original Hägar the Horrible comic strip is one of Curriel’s most prized possessions. He won it in a raffle at a National Cartoonists Society meeting. He says Browne had an amazing ability of putting his own personality into each one of his drawings.

“In every picture he draws, I can see his spirit, his personality,” Curriel said.

Curriel last saw Browne back in May when he gave him a copy of his graphic novel about South Dakota World War II flying ace Joe Foss. Curriel says Browne didn’t look well then, but he was surprised and saddened when Browne died last week. A cartoonist who influenced so many others is being mourned as a towering figure in the industry, and a close friend.

“He was so unique a person, his heart is as big as his body, so big and warm,” Curriel said.

Curriel says Browne was very honest in critiquing his work. But he says their conversations were always enjoyable because Browne was such a good storyteller.