Finding Aids
printer friendly version

Morrie Turner Collection

A description of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Turner, Morrie.
Title: Morrie Turner Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1968-1972
Quantity: 2.3 linear ft.
Abstract: Approximately 27 original cartoons, 1 letter.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
http://scrc.syr.edu

Biographical History

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.

Return to top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Morrie Turner Collection is divided into 2 series.

Cartoons (1970-1972) contains 32 original cartoons from Turner's Wee Pals comic strip distributed by the Register Tribune Syndicate. There are 16 daily cartoons and 11 Sunday cartoons. The cartoons were drawn with pen and ink on illustration board. Traces of blue pencil are visible and each bears a printed date and the name of the Register and Tribune Syndicate.

Wee Pals depicts the activities of a diverse, socially conscious group of children In this collection of strips, characters Randy, Wellington, Connie and Sybil as well as other unnamed children are depicted. Main character Randy frequently wears a t-shirt bearing the slogan, "Rainbow Power" as well as sunglasses and a beret. Topics included in this particular collection of cartoons are ecology and revolution as well as activities related to children including punishment and play.

Missing from the collection are ten Sunday Wee Pals comic strips.

Correspondence consists of one typed letter signed by Turner dated December 10, 1968. Written to Mr. Sam J. Sackett of Fort Hays Kansas State College, Turner discusses matters related to the Wichita Eagle and the effect of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination on his sales.

Return to top

Arrangement of the Collection

Daily and Sunday cartoons are arranged separately in chronological order.

Return to top

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this material.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Return to top

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Return to top

Subject Headings

Persons

Turner, Morrie.

Corporate Bodies

Des Moines Register and Tribune Company.
Register and Tribune Syndicate.

Associated Titles

Wee Pals (comic strip)

Subjects

African American children -- Caricatures and cartoons.
American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists, United States.
Children -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Children and the environment -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Cultural pluralism -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Ethnic groups -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Ethnic groups in art.
Ethnic wit and humor -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Friendship -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Minorities -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Multiculturalism -- Caricatures and cartoons.
School children -- Caricatures and cartoons.
Social movements -- Caricatures and cartoons.

Places

United States -- Caricatures and cartoons.
United States -- Race relations.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Comic strips.

Occupations

Cartoonists.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Morrie Turner Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Cartoons gift of Morrie Turner, 1972-1973.

Letter purchased, 2009.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 25 Sep 2008
Revision history: 21 Jan 2010 - added bio, scope and detailed inventory (SK)

Return to top

Inventory

Cartoons
Click here for a detailed inventory.
Oversize 1 Daily cartoons 1971-1972 (16 items) 5" x 16"
Map-Case 100 Sunday cartoons 1970-1971 (11 items) 13 ½" x 27"
5 cartoons are missing (1/18/2010)
Correspondence
Oversize 1 Letter from Turner to Sam J. Sackett 10 Dec 1968

Return to top