Born in Chicago, Illinois, Aaron McGruder was the second child of his parents. There was much fanfare when The Boondocks first appeared. McGruder was only one of a handful of African-American cartoonists with strips in major newspapers.
The number of African-American cartoonists in the past was still a paltry few dozen. So, McGruder was met with praise for this accomplishment alone. The Boondocks, which began as a critical, and sometimes, scathing, review of race relations in America, was also praised for originality.
The comic was drawn in the manga style, a popular Japanese comic form, which also set it apart from other comic strips. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Joel Pett told John Nichols of the Nation, “I think that not only is he doing good stuff, the fact that he is on the comic pages makes it important in a way that none of the rest of us could accomplish. He’s hooking a whole group of people.
He’s getting ideas out to people who don’t always read the opinion pages.” No matter how thought provoking the comic strip was, there were many dissenters. White readers felt the strip made jokes at their expense.
Black readers felt the strip should not air the race’s “dirty laundry.” While some newspapers moved the strip from the comics section to the editorial pages, a few removed the strip altogether. That did not deter McGruder, who as a child was a fan of Doonesbury and Bloom County, The Boondock’s comic predecessors. If anything, McGruder upped his shock value; no one was safe.
McGruder and his friend, Reginald Hudlin, director of the popular House Party films, teamed up to turn The Boondocks into a television show and a motion picture. A deal was made with Sony Entertainment and episodes of The Boondocks were scheduled to begin airing in the fall of 2005 during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim time block.
Adult Swim is known to air popular Japanese anime, including Inu Yasha, Ghost in the Shell, and Cowboy Bebop, and also satiric shows such as Family Guy, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Home Movies.
The Boondocks should be a perfect fit, and it would bring the strip and its creator full circle as Adult Swim’s dominant audience is college-age. The show features the voices of actress Regina King of Jerry Maguire and comedian John Witherspoon, who was one of the stars of the film Friday.
In addition to putting out The Boondocks daily, McGruder has released a few collections of the strip: Boondocks: Because I Know You Don’t Read The Newspaper, Fresh for ’01 You Suckas: A Boondocks Collection, A Right To Be Hostile: The Boondocks Treasury, and 2005’s Public Enemy #2: An All-New Boondocks Collection. He has also overseen the drawing of the television show in Seoul, Korea. McGruder has begun writing other scripts, and is penning a book, tentatively titled Profits of Rage, and a coffee-table book, Huey Hate Book.
The strip’s open attacks on the Bush presidency caused some newspapers to move it to the editorial page, but in 2005 McGruder began focusing on an animated version. With the success of the cartoon, he put the daily strip on hold in 2006.