Turner, MorrieVariant names
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)
|creatorOf||General Records of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. 1935 - 1981. Moving Images Relating to Health Care and Health Care Facilities. 1962 - 1979. Easy Street|
|creatorOf||Turner, Morrie. Morrie Turner : clipping file.||Michigan State University Libraries, Main Library|
|referencedIn||Auer, James. James Matthew Auer photographs, 1977.||Archives of American Art|
|creatorOf||Morrie Turner Collection, 1968-1972||Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|West Sacramento (Calif.)|
|Cultural pluralism--Caricatures and cartoons|
|Friendship--Caricatures and cartoons|
|Multiculturalism--Caricatures and cartoons|
|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|
|Children and the environment--Caricatures and cartoons|
|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|