A Hostile Life In The Boondocks

In 1999 Aaron McGruder shook up the comics pages in America’s newspapers.

In 1997, not long after Aaron McGruder pulled The Boondocks from his college newspaper, he submitted his strip to syndicates, companies that provide comics, puzzles, and advice columns to hundreds of newspapers…The rejections piled on, with the syndicates feeling that The Boondocks was too edgy or incendiary for the otherwise toothless comics section of the average newspaper. Of the major comics distributors, only Universal Press Syndicate showed any interest in The Boondocks, but even then, it took its sweet time. The strip didn’t debut as a national newspaper feature until April 1999, two years after McGruder first shopped it.

At its peak in the mid-2000s, The Boondocks was one of the most widely distributed strips of all time. After one of the biggest debuts in syndication history (nearly 200 outlets carried the strip in its first year), the strip ran in around 350 newspapers in the U.S. alone. Not only was it one of the most read comics ever, The Boondocks was easily among the most censored, too. Some newspapers, notably The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tried to quell the impact of the strip, choosing to run it not on the funny pages but deep in the editorial section…

ALMOST as funny as the strip itself were the newspaper editors clutching their pearls as the comic strip they signed on for its edginess was, in fact, doing edgy humor.

Major papers like Newsday, the New York Daily News, and The Dallas Morning News placed the strip on its editorial page, while other publications didn’t run the strips in question at all. They had a similar reaction when the strip took opposition to the war in Iraq and when it used a variation of the “N-word.”

Brian Boone, at Looper tells “The Untold Truth of The Boondocks,” a great article of the history of
The Boondocks as a comic strip and an animated show. Ending with a hope for the future:

And there’s good news for fans of the show, as later in 2020, there will be a reboot of the series. Upstart streamer HBO Max ordered two seasons worth of new Boondocks episodes, adding 24 to the Adult Swim package of 55, which the service also acquired and put into circulation.