Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pioneering cartoonist Morrie Turner dies


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

From page A4 | January 29, 2014 |

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


Davis is not immune: Are you ready for a big quake?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Planning begins for Davis Neighbors’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

Sword-attack suspect awaiting trial in Davis

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

6 militants killed in U.S. strike in Somalia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

San Francisco is first to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Learn about RNA at Science Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Google Glass will be discussed, demonstrated

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Tickets still available for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Cuddle up at Project Linus’ meeting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A3

International folk dancing offered Sundays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Rose garden bricks to be dedicated Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

It’s About Time plays Davis Farmers Market’s Picnic in the Park

By Anthony Siino | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Register year-round at Davis Chinese School

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

Have the facts before you judge

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Tesla has state walking a tightrope

By Tom Elias | From Page: A4

Special-needs passengers ignored

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

A cure for Davis’ problems

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

A good use for the MRAP

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

Marriage vs. male instinct

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



DHS boys looking to replicate a big cross country performance

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Life without MacDonald starts Friday for DHS

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Clark recalls his hole-in-one — the first at Davis Golf Course

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Fruits of their Labor Day

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD roundup: Aggies edge Quinnipiac in overtime

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Sports briefs: Hot Shots basketball tryouts coming up

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Baseball roundup: Aces end River Cats’ season

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

Junior Blue Devils strong in home debut, winning 3 on the field

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery









Elaine Dracia Greenberg

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5



Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7