Turner, Morrie

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Morrie Turner (1923- ) is an African-American cartoonist and creator of the Wee Pals comic strip.

Morris (Morrie) Turner was born December 12, 1923 in Oakland, California. His mother was a devout Christian who instilled these beliefs in her son. Turner started drawing cartoons in the fifth grade. Like many of his contemporaries, Turner drew newspaper cartoons during his service in WWII with the Army Airforce.

Turner had no formal art training and worked as a police clerk while he also did freelance cartoons. In 1964 he devoted himself full time to drawing comic strips. As an African-American cartoonist questioning the lack of diversity in cartoons, Turner created Wee Pals which first appeared on February 15, 1965 with the Register and Tribune Syndicate. Due to the racial tensions in the United States at the time, the strip only appeared in five major newspapers. According to the Creator’s Syndicate, “Within three months of [Martin Luther] King's death, the strip was appearing in over 100 newspapers nationwide.

Wee Pals featured a group of children of varying ethnicities and later disabilities. The strip led to an ABC Saturday morning Rankin Bass animated show, Kid Power which premiered September 16, 1972. Turner has taken his message of harmony and acceptance to larger audiences through writing and illustrating children’s books on topics including African-American history, racism, deafness and drugs. Wee Pals has also been adapted into a play. Turner regularly lectures and visits inner city school children who learn cartooning under his direction.

Turner has received numerous awards for his work and commitment to diversity. He has been honored with the California Black Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award and the Anti-Defamation League's Humanitarian award. The American Red Cross and Boys and Girls Club have also acknowledged his contributions. The Cartoon Art Museum presented Turner with the Sparky Award in 2000. The National Cartoonists Society recognized Turner’s unique and groundbreaking work with the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

As of 2009, Morrie Turner lives in California and continues to draw Wee Pals which is distributed by Creator's Syndicate.

From the guide to the Morrie Turner Collection, 1968-1972, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Morrie Turner The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith Auer, James. person
associatedWith Des Moines Register and Tribune Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Register and Tribune Syndicate. corporateBody
associatedWith Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
West Sacramento (Calif.)
Oakland (Calif.)
United States
United States
Subject
Cultural pluralism--Caricatures and cartoons
Friendship--Caricatures and cartoons
Cartoonists
Multiculturalism--Caricatures and cartoons
African Americans
Caricatures and cartoons--United States
African American children--Caricatures and cartoons
Children--Caricatures and cartoons
Ethnic groups--Caricatures and cartoons
Ethnic groups in art
Minorities--Caricatures and cartoons
Cartoonists--United States
Children and the environment--Caricatures and cartoons
Art--Cartoonists
African American artists
Ethnic wit and humor--Caricatures and cartoons
Social movements--Caricatures and cartoons
American wit and humor, Pictorial
School children--Caricatures and cartoons
Comic books, strips, etc.--United States
Occupation
Cartoonists
Cartoonist
Function

Person

Birth 1923-12-11

Death 2014-01-25

Birth 19231211

Death 20140125

Male

English

Information

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