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Wee Pals
Author(s)Morrie Turner
Current status/scheduleConcluded daily & Sunday strip; in reruns
Launch dateFebruary 15, 1965
End date2014
Syndicate(s)Lew Little Enterprises,
then the Register and Tribune Syndicate,
then King Features Syndicate,
then United Feature Syndicate,
then Cowles Syndicate,
then Creators Syndicate[1]
Genre(s)Humor, Children, Teens, Adults

Wee Pals is an American syndicated comic strip about a diverse group of children, created and produced by Morrie Turner. It was the first comic strip syndicated in the United States to have a cast of diverse ethnicity, dubbed the "Rainbow Gang".[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Interview with cartoonist Morrie Turner, creator of Wee Pals comic strip



When cartoonist Morrie Turner began questioning why there were no minorities in the comic strips, his mentor, Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, suggested he create one.[3] Morris' first attempt, Dinky Fellas, featured an all-black cast, but found publication in only one newspaper, the Chicago Defender.[4] Turner integrated the strip, renaming it Wee Pals, and on February 15, 1965, it became the first American syndicated comic strip to have a cast of diverse ethnicity.[5]

Initially syndicated by Lew Little Enterprises,[5] it was then carried by the Register and Tribune Syndicate, before moving to United Feature Syndicate in the 1970s. When it debuted, the strip originally appeared in only five daily newspapers, as many papers refused to run a strip featuring black characters.[6] After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the number of papers carrying the strip grew either to 60[6] or to more than 100 dailies[7] (sources differ).

As the comic strip's popularity grew, Turner added characters. He included children of more and more ethnicities, as well as a child with a physical disability. He also added a weekly section called "Soul Corner", which profiled notable African Americans from history.[3]

In its later years, the strip was distributed by Creators Syndicate.[7]


  • Nipper — An African-American boy who always wears a blue or grey American Civil War kepi, and has a dog named General Lee. Turner based Nipper on himself as a child.[3]
  • Ralph — A white neighborhood bigot and ruffian.
  • Connie — A athletic white girl who frequently clashes with Ralph over his misogyny and racism, despite that she herself expresses chauvanistic and misandrist views. She's an outspoken member of the neighborhood "Girls' Lib" organization (a play on the Women's Liberation Movement).
  • Sybil — African-American girl who is also in the Girls' Lib organization. She is a very nice and respectful young girl who has a very good relationship with Connie.
  • Oliver — A chubby, bookish white boy with glasses.
  • Diz — An African-American boy who's never without his sunglasses and beret. He plays trumpet like his namesake Dizzy Gillespie and often narrates the "Funky Fables" strips.
  • Charlotte — A white bespectacled girl who uses a wheelchair. She has a pet parrot named Polly Esther.
  • Randy (African-American) The second in command of the Rainbow Club who is very good friends with Oliver. He also has a one-sided friendship with Ralph.
  • Pablo (Chicano/Mexican-American) A happy carefree young boy who is very good friends with Randy and Jerry. He is often shown to be the pacifist of the group.
  • Mikki (African-American; about four years old) A young girl who has a very big imagination. She is mainly seen with Jerry and Trinh.
  • Rocky (Native American) A respectful kind young boy who is very proud of his racial background. He is good friends with Randy and Nipper.
  • George (Asian-American of Chinese origin) A quiet young boy with a vivid imagination who often discusses Chinese parables. He has a good relationship with Oliver, Nipper, and Jerry.
  • Jerry (Jewish) An upbeat, happy, loyal young man with a very big heart. He is very good friends with Nipper, Oliver, Diz, Randy and Trinh. It's shown that he might have feelings for Sybil.
  • Trinh (Vietnamese) A kind-hearted little boy[8] who is very good friends with Mikki.
  • Sally (ethnicity unstated, but deaf-mute) A respectful young girl with a very kind heart. She appears in the later strips in the series.
  • Wellington (ethnicity unstated, dark hair covering eyes) A hip young boy who is mainly shown with Diz. It's shown in a earlier strip that he wears glasses underneath his bangs.

Wee Pals bibliography

  • Wee Pals That "Kid Power" Gang in Rainbow Power (Signet Books, 1968) ASIN B002T6NAOG
  • Wee Pals (Signet Books, 1969) ASIN B003ZUKTLW — introduction by Charles M. Schulz
  • Kid Power (Signet Books, 1970), ASIN B001IKPRM2
  • Nipper (Westminster Press, 1971), ASIN B002IY2XOM
  • Nipper's Secret Power (Westminster Press, 1971) ISBN 0-664-32498-3
  • Wee Pals: Rainbow Power (Signet Books, 1973) ASIN B000M8UYII
  • Wee Pals: Doing Their Thing (Signet Books, 1973) ASIN B00129HWKO
  • Wee Pals' Nipper and Nipper's Secret Power (Signet Books, 1974) ASIN B001M5GOOS
  • Wee Pals: Book of Knowledge (Signet Books, 1974) ISBN 0451058003
  • Wee Pals: Staying Cool (Signet Books, 1974) ISBN 0451060768
  • Wee Pals: Funky Tales (New American Library, 1975) ASIN B00072KLVE
  • Wee Pals: Welcome to the Club (Rainbow Power Club Books, 1978) ASIN B003VC7JQW
  • Choosing a Health Career: Featuring Wee Pals, the Kid Power Gang (Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Health Resources Administration, 1979), ASIN B0006XCLLC
  • Wee Pals: A Full-Length Musical Comedy for Children or Young Teenagers (The Dramatic Publishing Company, 1981) ASIN B0006XW1I0
  • Wee Pals Make Friends with Music and Musical Instruments: Coloring Book (Stockton Symphony Association, 1982) ASIN B00072YGD8
  • Wee Pals, the Kid Power Gang: Thinking Well (Ingham County Health Department, 1983) ASIN B0007259DY
  • Wee Pals Doing the Right Thing Coloring Book (Oakland Police Department, 1991) ASIN B0006R4G98
  • Explore Black History with Wee Pals (Just us Books, 1998) ISBN 0940975793
  • The Kid Power Gang Salutes African-Americans in the Military Past and Present (Conway B. Jones, Jr., 2000), ASIN B0006RSDC4

Animated series: Kid Power

During the 1972–73 television season, Wee Pals was animated as Kid Power, a series produced by Rankin/Bass with animation done in Japan at Topcraft.[9] It aired in the United States on ABC television on Saturday mornings.

All of Turner's characters were featured, united through the coalition the characters dubbed "Rainbow Power." In The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows, David Perlutter says, "The same broad ethnic mix [as the comic], making it one of the first television animation programs aimed at children to accurately reflect the racial diversity of America and thus providing for many others to follow."[10]

A total of 17 episodes were made, most of which aired from September 16, 1972, to January 6, 1973, followed by reruns. In the following year, a few new episodes that were unfinished during the first season aired on Sunday mornings (combined with reruns) until September 1, 1974.[11]


  • Producer/director: Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
  • Teleplay: William J. Keenan
  • Associate Producer: Basil Cox
  • Animation Supervision: Toru Hara, Tsuguyuki Kubo
  • Music: Perry Botkin Jr.
  • Songs: Jules Bass, Perry Botkin Jr.
  • Editorial Supervision: Irwin Goldress
  • Sound Engineers: Jim Harris, John Boyd


  • Donald Fullilove (Diz and Randy)
  • Michelle Johnson (Sybil)
  • Charles Kennedy (Nipper)
  • Gary Shapiro (Jerry and Wellington)
  • Jay Silverheels Jr. (Rocky)
  • Greg Thomas (Oliver)
  • Jeff Thomas (Ralph)
  • April Winchell (Connie)
  • Carey Wong (George)

Wee Pals on the Go

During the same 1972–73 television season, Wee Pals on the Go was aired by KGO-TV, the ABC owned-and-operated station in the San Francisco Bay Area. This live-action Sunday morning show featured child actors who portrayed the main characters of Turner's comic strip, Nipper, Randy, Sybil, Connie, and Oliver.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Holtz, Allan. "Which Newspaper Strip Was Distributed by the Most Syndicates?", Stripper's Guide (July 15, 2019).
  2. ^ "Wee Pals" at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Accessed January 27, 2014. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Ross, Martha (January 27, 2014). "Morrie Turner: Pioneering 'Wee Pals' cartoonist, dies at 90". Contra Costa Times. Contra Costa County, California. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014.
  4. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (September 13, 2009). "Wee Pals retrospective at S.F. library". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on June 10, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Cavna, Michael (January 31, 2014). "RIP, Morrie Turner: Cartoonists say farewell to a friend, a hero, a 'Wee Pals' pioneer". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Steven Loring. "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics," Ethnic Images in the Comics (The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, 1986), p. 27.
  7. ^ a b "About Morrie Turner". Creators Syndicate. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014. Within three months of King's death, the strip was appearing in over 100 newspapers nationwide.
  8. ^ "Wee Pals by Morrie Turner for March 22, 2021". GoComics. Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  9. ^ Woolery, George W. (1983). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981. Scarecrow Press. pp. 160–161. ISBN 0-8108-1557-5. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  10. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 337–338. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  11. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 468–469. ISBN 978-1476665993.

Further reading

  • Strickler, Dave (1995). Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924–1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, California: Comics Access. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 June 2024, at 23:58
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