Artist Jimmie Robinson remembers his fellow Bay Area cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died this weekend, and what Turner meant to him. You should read the whole thing, because its important:
Morrie Turner, died over the weekend (as of this writing) at the age of 90. He was a pioneer in many ways, but most of all I will remember him because he came to my elementary school and inspired me to be an artist. Let me clear this up a bit. I was in a school for the arts. It was a magnet education / arts program in Oakland, California called Mosswood Arts. So it wasn’t uncommon for the school to have various artists come in and speak to the students. However, when Morrie Turner came to visit there was something different. And for me it was that Mr. Turner was black. In fact, in my three years at that art school he was the only black adult artist I ever met.
Lest we forget, this is why people need role models they can identify with. Sometimes just existing is enough. Like I always say, one person’s token is another person’s pioneer.
Locally, I think artists and fans viewed him as more than that. After Charles Schulz died in 2000, Turner embraced his role as an elder statesman of Bay Area comic strip artists. He was a generous and gracious presence at WonderCon and other events, and younger talents were eager to absorb his wisdom. His work also generated pride in Oakland, where Turner’s strip reflected the city in a nuanced way that residents could understand.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.