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About Morrie Turner
About Morrie
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"Keeping the Faith With Morrie"

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Goal Statement
Director's Statement


“Keeping The Faith With Morrie” is the story of the first African-American cartoonist to create a syndicated comic strip with a multi-ethnic cast of characters. It is also a reflection of the impact and significance of cartoon strips on our society over the past 50 years. The documentary explores the cultural and social issues raised in the comic strip genre, and in Morrie’s strip “Wee Pals,” as they relate to diversity and tolerance in our society from 1950 to the present day.

With a theme of racial tolerance, the Morrie Turner story is one of perseverance that will inspire all communities and demographics of people. Heaven Sent Productions seeks to complete a 60-minute documentary film (based on the 30-minute prototype) and further explore the life of Morrie Turner, a quiet black child who survived and flourished through the hardships of the Great Depression, service in WWII and the racial discrimination of the pre-Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., to become an award-winning cartoonist and philanthropist. The documentary also chronicles the untold story of other African American cartoonists, including George Herriman (“Krazy Kat”), Ollie Harrington (“Bootsie”), E. Simms Campbell (Esquire cartoonist), and contemporary firebrands Aaron McGruder (“Boondocks”) and Lela Lee (“Angry Little Girls”), to reveal their professional triumphs and challenges.

The extended documentary will tell the hidden story of a shy and introverted child that found drawing a comfort and a means to fit in. Special nuances will be revealed, such as the fact that in the fifth grade, the budding artist established his first “studio” under his bed, with the encouragement of his devout Christian mother. Little Morrie beamed a flashlight through the springs of his mattress, lay on his stomach and drew on wrapping paper that was donated by the local butcher. The youngest of four boys born to a Pullman train porter father, Turner’s parents instilled in him the idea of faith – faith in himself, faith in others, faith in pursuing his dreams to become a comic strip artist, and ultimately – faith in God.

Through his artwork, Morrie rebelled, laughed, joked and stayed out of fights by portraying the school bullies as unflattering characters in his makeshift comic strips. During WWII, as a serviceman Turner drew cartoons for Stars and Stripes. In 1964, Turner left his financially secure job as a police clerk and became a full-time cartoonist. Soon after he created “Wee Pals”, a strip about a multi-ethnic group of kids learning about tolerance through their friendships with each other. The strip went from appearances in three newspapers at its start, to its current showing in more than 100 dailies and several international papers.

While a friend and colleague of famed “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, 82-year-old Turner did not rise to the level of prominence of his peers partly because of his race and the controversial subject matter of his illustrations. Despite the popularity and outreach of his strip, Morrie is a poor man today. He lives quietly in a small studio in his hometown of Oakland, California and rides the train wherever he goes, like his father before him. Uninterested in fame and fortune, Morrie’s tenacity and dedication paved the way for several generations of cartoonists of color who have flourished since “Wee Pals” first hit the comics page and his drawings have touched the hearts of millions of readers. He is known as a pioneer of the comic strip as today’s audiences know it, and that’s reward enough for Morrie.