Comic Strip / Comics

Who Was the First Black Comic Strip Character?

Comics have been a part of American culture for over a century. From superheroes to political satire, comic strips have become an integral part of our daily lives.

However, for many years, the representation of black characters in comics was limited and often stereotypical. It wasn’t until 1965 that the first black comic strip character was introduced.

The character’s name was Wee Pals and the strip was created by Morrie Turner. He was born in Oakland, California in 1923 and grew up during a time when segregation was prevalent in the United States. As an African American artist, he faced many challenges trying to break into the comics industry.

Wee Pals debuted on February 15, 1965, and featured a diverse group of children from different racial backgrounds as they navigated through their daily lives. The strip tackled issues such as racism, bullying, and discrimination head-on and was praised for its honest portrayal of these issues.

One of the notable characters in Wee Pals was Nipper, who became one of the first black comic strip characters to appear regularly in newspapers across the country. Nipper had a distinctive afro hairstyle and wore a striped shirt with overalls.

Morrie Turner’s goal with Wee Pals was to create a comic strip that reflected the diverse world he lived in. He wanted children of all races to see themselves represented in his work and to learn about other cultures through his characters.

Over time, Wee Pals gained popularity and became syndicated in over 100 newspapers across the country. Morrie Turner continued to create new strips until his passing in 2014 at the age of 90.

In conclusion, while it took many years for African Americans to be fully represented in comics, Morrie Turner’s creation of Wee Pals paved the way for more diversity and inclusion in this medium. His legacy continues to inspire artists today to create work that reflects the world around us and to push for representation for all.