Morrie Turner, a cartoonist who broke the color barrier twice — as the first African-American comic strip artist whose work was widely syndicated in mainstream newspapers, and as the creator of the first syndicated strip with a racially and ethnically mixed cast of characters
The cause was complications of kidney disease, said David Bellard, a family spokesman.
Mr. Turner’s comic strip “Wee Pals,” featuring childhood playmates who were white, black, Asian, Hispanic and Jewish (joined in later years by a girl in a wheelchair and a deaf girl), was considered subversive in 1965, when a major syndicate first offered it to newspapers.
Only two or three of the hundreds of newspapers in the syndicate picked it up. By early 1968, there were five. But of the many changes that occurred after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that April and the urban uprisings it started, some of the first appeared in the nation’s funny papers.