Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Pioneering cartoonist Morrie Turner dies

morrieW

Morrie Turner, creator of the Wee Pals comic strip, poses with Chloe and Sophia Sears as they show off Turner's caricatures during the artist's visit to Davis City Hall in December 2010. Turner died Saturday at the age of 90. on January 25, 2014. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise file photo

By
From page A4 | January 29, 2014 | Leave Comment

Morris “Morrie” Turner, the first nationally syndicated black cartoonist, who drew a friendlier, multiracial world in his strip, “Wee Pals,” died Saturday at age 90.

The Oakland-born Turner spent his final years in West Sacramento. Family spokesman David Bellard says Turner died peacefully at a hospital in Sacramento on Saturday, surrounded by family members. Services are pending.

In 2010, when Davis declared “Morrie Turner Day” and displayed some of his work at City Hall, Turner told The Enterprise that only six newspapers picked up “Wee Pals” at first.

“Then a terrible thing happened — Martin Luther King was killed,” he said. “In 30 days, 30 more papers began running my strip. In 30 more days, it was up to 60.

“You can imagine how I felt. I felt like I was benefiting from the death of one of my heroes. Then I remembered something that King said after President Kennedy died: This nation grieves for three days.

“I didn’t know if I’d last for three days or three months or three years.”

“Wee Pals” grew to be featured in about 100 newspapers, including The Davis Enterprise. His strips also included “Soul Corner,” which told the story of black historical figures. He continued to draw until his final days.

Turner helped integrate newspaper comic pages in another way, too. His friendships with “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, his mentor, and “Family Circus” creator Bil Keane led to them adding black characters to their own strips.

In 2009, The Believer magazine described a tearful phone call Turner shared with Keane on the night President Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president.

Turner said he felt like an American. Keane replied that, in its own way, “Wee Pals” helped make the moment possible.

Alongside other cartoonists, Turner toured Vietnam during the war, drawing thousands of service members. Later, even as his strip flourished, Turner continued drawing politically sharper single-panel comics for the black audiences of Ebony and other magazines, as he had for decades.

In more recent years, he wrote and illustrated children’s books.

Turner received numerous honors for his work from professional organizations, like the National Cartoonist Society and San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, as wells as civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP and B’nai B’rith.

In 1994, Turner’s wife, Letha, died. He later settled in West Sacramento with his companion, Karol Trachtenburg. He is also survived by his son, Morrie Jr., daughter-in-law, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
‘Eco-Heroes’ help get us from here to there

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Davis elder-abuse case wraps up

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Alleged serial killings highlight GPS limits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

CHP seeks owner of lost cash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Home building up in March after frigid winter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Family fiction in miniature showcased at bookstore event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Local professor subdues unruly man on flight

By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Yolo Crisis Nursery is in crisis; please help

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Seniors can get tips for getting around town

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
School has garden plots for rent

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sugar overload, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rotarians, students, teachers, parents collaborate on planter boxes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Hop to it: Easter Bunny meets Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Garden doctor: Veggie gardening available year-round

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Animal expert explains dogs’ thinking

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Check out the night sky

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Still supporting this guy

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Urban forest under siege

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
Drought care for our trees

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

.

Sports

 
UCD staff allows 19 hits in Causeway rout

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS softball struggles in nonleague outing

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils open Boras Classic by splitting games

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV/frosh roundup: DHS sweeps a trio of baseball games

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: River Cats get by Grizzlies at Raley

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Giants beat L.A. in 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Sports briefs: Stanford sends Aggies home with a lacrosse loss

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

 
.

Arts

Red Union Blue inks record deal

By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Craft Center exhibit explores ‘Possibilities’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

RootStock to host wine themed plein aire exhibit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
The California Honeydrops to bring danceable groove to The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

See Flower Power exhibit at Gallery 625

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6