Aaron McGruder

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Aaron McGruder
Aaron McGruder, at the 2002 Hackers on Planet Earth hacker con
Aaron McGruder, at the 2002 Hackers on Planet Earth hacker con
Born (1974-05-29) May 29, 1974 (age 45)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
OccupationWriter, cartoonist, public speaker
GenreComic strips, television screenwriter
Notable worksThe Boondocks

Aaron Vincent McGruder[1] (born May 29, 1974)[2] is an American writer, lecturer,[3] producer, screenwriter and cartoonist best known for writing and drawing The Boondocks, a Universal Press Syndicate comic strip[4][5] and its animated TV series adaptation for which he was the creator, executive producer, and head writer.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Aaron McGruder was born in Chicago, Illinois.[2] When Aaron was six years old, his family moved to Columbia, Maryland, after his father accepted a job with the National Transportation Safety Board. McGruder has an older brother.

McGruder attended the Jesuit school, Loyola Blakefield, from grades seven to nine. Following two years he left the school and transferred to public high school, Oakland Mills High School and the University of Maryland, from which he graduated[7] with a degree in African American Studies.


The Boondocks and related work[edit]

The Boondocks began in 1996 as a webcomic on Hitlist.com, one of the first online music websites.[8] At the time, he was also a DJ on The Soul Controllers Mix Show on WMUC. The Boondocks also briefly appeared as a comic strip in the University of Maryland's newspaper The Diamondback during Jayson Blair's tenure as editor-in-chief.[8][9] McGruder signed a deal with the Universal Press Syndicate and in April 1999, the strip began appearing in 160 newspapers.[9]

The comic strip's main characters are two young African-American brothers, Huey (named after Huey P. Newton) and his younger brother and wannabe gangsta, Riley,[4] from inner-city Chicago who are relocated to live with their grandfather in a sedate suburb. In six months, the comic strip was being distributed to more than 200 publications.[5] Five The Boondocks collections have been published: All The Rage, Public Enemy #2, A Right To Be Hostile, Fresh for '01: You Suckaz, and Boondocks: Because I Know You Don't Read The Newspaper. An animated television series adaptation of the strip proved successful on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

McGruder expressed interest in 2013 about filming a movie featuring The Boondocks TV series supporting character Uncle Ruckus. Gary Anthony Williams would reprise his role. McGruder set a goal of $200,000 for startup donations at uncleruckusmovie.com between January 30 through March 1, 2013, but the campaign ended with 2,667 backers and $129,963.[10]

In March 2014, The Boondocks was revived for a new season, but without McGruder's involvement as its showrunner.[11] The first episode of the fourth season was first broadcast on April 21, 2014.[12] In 2019, it was announced a fifth season of The Boondocks would be produced with McGruder's involvement.

Other work[edit]

Among his other projects have been the Super Deluxe variety comedy series The Super Rumble Mix Show. McGruder also developed Black Jesus, another comedy series broadcast on Adult Swim, part of Cartoon Network.[11]

With Reginald Hudlin, McGruder co-authored a graphic novel, Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel (2004), about African Americans in East St. Louis during an election.[1] The book's illustrations were drawn by cartoonist Kyle Baker.

McGruder has developed into a public speaker on political and cultural issues.[3][5][13][14]

In 2010, McGruder worked as screenwriter in the final treatment of the feature film Red Tails, released in early 2012. Its story is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American combat pilots during World War II.[15]

In August 2017, it was announced that McGruder, along with producer Will Packer, will develop a series for Amazon Video called Black America which will be based on an alternative history where emancipated black Americans receive three Southern states as reparations for slavery.[16][17] The series' announcement was reportedly seen as a response to HBO's then in-development alternative history series Confederate, whose plot entails a history where the Confederacy won the Civil War.[18]


McGruder's comic strip was a lightning rod for criticism since it debuted in 1999, with newspapers consigning it to editorial sections, or suspending the run of the strip altogether. Favored targets of The Boondocks include BET, Condoleezza Rice, Whitney Houston, Bill Cosby, Vivica A. Fox, and black conservative commentator Larry Elder.

McGruder has often attacked Elder in the comic strip as well as the television series. In response, Elder published an opinion piece in which he created the "McGruder," an award for statements made by black public figures that Elder considers "dumb," "vulgar," and/or "offensive."[19]

McGruder said in a 2002 keynote address[13] at the July 12–14, 2002 H2K2 conference that he believed that President George W. Bush was involved with the September 11 attacks:

He visited Cuba, meeting Fidel Castro[3] with California Rep. Barbara Lee.[9] Later, during a 2003 reception hosted by The Nation, McGruder offended many attendees by defiantly expressing his support for Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential bid. McGruder endured heckling and walkouts as he defended his commitment to left-wing causes, including, he claimed, calling Condoleezza Rice a "mass-murderer" to her face during the 2002 NAACP Image Awards.[9] In 2009, Richmond, Indiana newspaper Palladium-Item reported that McGruder told a Martin Luther King Day audience at local Earlham College that then-President-elect Barack Obama was not black.[14] McGruder released a statement insisting he was misquoted, while maintaining he remained "cautiously pessimistic" about Obama's presidency.[14]

A long-standing feud with Black Entertainment Television provided McGruder with material both for his strip and the animated series. Two episodes of the second season of The Boondocks, "The Hunger Strike" and "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show", were never broadcast in the United States due to possible legal action against Cartoon Network's parent company Time Warner by Viacom (BET's parent company, also the owners of Cartoon Network rival Nickelodeon and Comedy Central) because of satirization of BET; however, they resurfaced for television airplay weeks later in Canada and were included in the DVD release. (The episodes depict BET as an evil media empire plotting the destruction of black people.[21])

Personal life[edit]

By 2005[3] and as of 2013, McGruder was residing in Los Angeles[1][3] with his three dogs: Remix, Retro, and Hooligan.[22]


  1. ^ a b c "McGruder, Aaron 1974". encyclopedia.com. Gale. 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Aaron McGruder". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2009. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e McGruder, Aaron (November 3, 2005). "Aaron McGruder". The A.V. Club. Interviewed by Interview by Nathan Rabin. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Younge, Gary (December 22, 2005). "Strip Tease". The Guardian. London. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Astor, David (October 9, 1999). "'Boondocks' Artist Still Living on the Edge of Controversy: Aaron McGruder Comes to Canada to Talk about His High-Profile Comic". Editor & Publisher. republished excerpt online at Questia.com.
  6. ^ "The Boondocks (1995)". IMDb. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  7. ^ "Outstanding Young Alumnus Award". University of Maryland Alumni Association. May 25, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "The Boondocks" (PDF). UClick.com. Andrews McMeel Universal. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 4, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d McGrath, Ben (April 19, 2004). "The Radical: Why do editors keep throwing 'The Boondocks' off the funnies page?". The New Yorker.
  10. ^ "The Uncle Ruckus Movie by Aaron McGruder". Kickstarter.com.
  11. ^ a b Moore, Frazier (April 18, 2014). "'The Boondocks' Back For Final 'Offensive' Season". Associated Press. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  12. ^ "The Boondocks (2005) Episode List: Season 4". IMDb. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Speakers and Panels". H2K2.net. 2002. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Rose, Kim (January 22, 2009). "'Boondocks' Creator Explains Obama Comment". BET.com. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  15. ^ Larnick, Eric (January 20, 2012). "Aaron McGruder, 'Boondocks' Creator, on Writing 'Red Tails' and Working With George Lucas After Making Fun of Him". Moviefone.com. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  16. ^ "'Boondocks' Creator Preps Alt-History Drama 'Black America'".
  17. ^ Izadi, Elahe. "Another Civil War alternate history comes to TV – but with black independence and reparations".
  18. ^ "Alt-History Drama 'Black America' Reveals Premise in Response to 'Confederate' News". August 1, 2017.
  19. ^ Gray, Jonathan; Jones, Jeffrey; Thompson, Ethan (April 2009). Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era. New York University Press. p. 271.
  20. ^ McGruder, Aaron (July 13, 2002). "Keynote address, H2K2" (MP3). Event occurs at 21:08 – 21:51. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  21. ^ Braxton, Greg (June 4, 2008). "'Boondocks' to BET: !*%#!". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  22. ^ "The Uncle Ruckus Movie by Aaron McGruder". Kickstarter.com. 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2016.

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