The Genius Of Aaron McGruder: 13 Facts About ‘The Boondocks’ Creator’s Life And Legacy

The Genius Of Aaron McGruder: 13 Facts About ‘The Boondocks’ Creator’s Life And Legacy


"The Boondocks" comic strip creator Aaron McGruder, June 21, 1999 in Columbia, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton).

Cartoonist Aaron McGruder made entertainment history with his innovative cartoon strip and animated series “The Boondocks” about Black life. Its biting humor and societal insights were unlike anything on TV. Some called McGruder a creative genius.

Here are 13 facts about “The Boondocks” creator’s life and legacy.

1. About Aaron McGruder

Aaron McGruder was born in Chicago, Illinois. When Aaron was 6 years old, his family moved to Columbia, Maryland. He attended the Jesuit school Loyola Blakefield before transferring to a public high school, Oakland Mills High School, in the ninth grade. He went on to study at the University of Maryland, from which he graduated with a degree in African American Studies.

2. About ‘The Boondocks’ strip

While in college, McGruder created a cartoon strip called “The Boondocks,” which he began in 1996 as a webcomic on Hitlist.com, one of the first online music websites. McGruder was also a DJ on “The Soul Controllers Mix Show” on WMUC, a student-run non-commercial radio station licensed to the University of Maryland. 

The strip also ran briefly as a comic strip in the University of Maryland’s newspaper The Diamondback. In 1999, McGruder signed a deal with the Universal Press Syndicate, and the strip began appearing in 160 newspapers nationwide.

3. ‘The Boondocks’ storyline

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. They are from inner-city Chicago but relocate to live with their grandfather in a suburb.

4. ‘The Boondocks’ success

Within six months of being part of the Universal Press Syndicate family, the comic strip was being distributed to more than 200 publications. Since then, there have been five collections of “The Boondocks,” “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.”

Riding on the success of the strip, “The Boondocks” was turned into an adult animated television series on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim channel.

5. Exploring the characters of ‘The Boondocks’

“The Boondocks” was critically acclaimed. “It is the most poignant thought-provoking and accurate depiction of Black People ever to grace the small screen,” raved The Berkeley Daily Planet in 2005. Most seemed not just with the writing but the characters.

“Riley is a metaphor for today’s urban Black youth more concerned with popular culture and trends than the struggle that it took to allow him to enjoy them. Grandpa is the embodiment of too many Black grandparents nationwide who can’t enjoy the fruits of a long life’s labor because they have to raise their grandchildren,” The Berkeley Daily Planet pointed out.

6. Real-life characters in ‘The Boondocks’

“The Boondocks” had some characters based on real people, such as the characters Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy, who were actually based on real-life political figures George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, respectively, Screen Rant reported. Wuncler’s nickname “W” is Bush’s nickname, while Rummy’s last name resembles that of Rumsfeld.

7. The voices of ‘The Boondocks’

Hip-hop artist Busta Rhymes, comedian Katt Williams, and actor Samuel L. Jackson all made voice appearances on the series.

8. McGruder’s movie dreams

In 2013, McGruder wanted to film a movie featuring “The Boondocks” supporting character Uncle Ruckus. 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, according to Kiddle.

9. Separating from ‘The Boondocks’

In March 2014, “The Boondocks” was revived for a new season on Adult Swim, but McGruder pulled out as showrunner. The fourth season started on April 21, 2014. In 2019, it was announced a fifth season was produced with McGruder’s involvement. The project was canceled in February 2022.

10. Beyond ‘The Boondocks’

McGruder also did “Super Deluxe,” another animated series on Adult Swim, and a variety comedy series called “The Super Rumble Mix Show.” He developed “Black Jesus,” another comedy series broadcast on Adult Swim.

With filmmaker Reginald Hudlin, McGruder co-authored a graphic novel entitled Birth of a “Nation: A Comic Novel” in 2004. It was about African Americans in East St. Louis during an election.

11. ‘Red Tails’

In 2010, McGruder worked as a screenwriter in the final treatment of the feature film “Red Tails,” which was released in 2012. “Red Tails” is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, who were a group of African-American combat pilots during World War II.

12. ‘Black America’

In August 2017, it was announced that McGruder and producer Will Packer would be developing a series for Amazon Video called “Black America,” which offers an alternative history where emancipated Black Americans receive three Southern states as reparations. In 2021, it was still being developed, as per The Hollywood Reporter.

13. ‘The Boondocks’ and more

McGruder wasn’t just the creator of “The Boondocks,” but he also drew the comic strip and served as the creator, executive producer and head writer for the groundbreaking animated series, Shadow and Act reported.

“The Boondocks” comic strip creator Aaron McGruder pauses in his studio, June 21, 1999 in Columbia, Md.(AP Photo/Gail Burton).