Various sources are reporting the death of Morrie Turner, creator of the comic strip “Wee Pals”, at the age of 90. Turner was the Jackie Robinson of the newspaper strip field in multiple ways, getting a national syndication deal at a time when no other African-American had one, and landing a heavily integrated strip on the comics page in 1965, when that was not being done.
Relevant to this blog, Turner was inspired by Schulz, and considered him a mentor. Schulz considered Turner a friend, and showed his support in various ways, including providing two introductions to “Wee Pals” books. “The best thing I can say about the cartoons of Morrie Turner is that he really knows what he is drawing about,” starts the first of these, which was used in the 1969 strip collection Wee Pals and was reused in the 1970 collection Kid Power! (which would later be the title of the animated TV series based on the strip) and again in the 1971 collection Right On! (For those of you tracking details, the other introduction appeared as foreword to the 1970 storybook Nipper.)
A few years back, I was approached in different ways to support or be involved with what seemed to be two unrelated documentaries about Turner; I did a brief interview for one, don’t recall whether I did anything for the other. I have no idea if either project ever saw completion.