Morris "Morrie" Turner, creator of the Wee Pals comic strip, passed away recently at the age of 90. Turner is often regarded as a pioneer, becoming the first African American to have a nationally syndicated comic strip. Wee Pals was considered an "integrated" strip in the '60s and it dealt with very real issues, including bullying, sexism, and racism, issues that feature prominently in a lot of cartoons today but was rare in 1965.
Turner started the strip with inspiration from his mentor Charles Schulz, the creator of Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. According to Contra Costa Times, Turner once asked Schulz why there were no Black characters in Peanuts and Schulz's reply was that he should create his own strip. Wee Pals saw moderate success and really gained nationwide attention following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. In the four decades since, Turner has inspired countless young artists, won several awards for his children's books, and even appeared in an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
Reports says that Turner was still drawing up until the week of his death. You can check out some of his work on his personal Instagram account here. A true legend, he will be missed.