After a 4-year hiatus, Aaron McGruder’s “The Boondocks” is returning to Adult Swim television for a fourth season but without its creator, who also created the newspaper comic strip upon which the animated tv show was based. McGruder commented publicly on his departure only through press releases and official posts on the Facebook page of his new show “Black Jesus,” reported Rich Goldstein at thedailybeast.com.
On March 16, McGruder posted this: “Just found out someone has hijacked The Boondocks Facebook page. This was done without my permission and I have absolutely no control over the content being posted as of Friday, March 14.”
Then on March 27 McGruder posted the following statement (in italics):
As the world now knows, “The Boondocks” will be returning for a fourth season, but I will not be returning with it. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Sony and Adult Swim for three great seasons. I created The Boondocks two decades ago in college, did the daily comic for six years, and was showrunner on the animated series for the first three seasons. The Boondocks pretty much represents my life’s work to this point. Huey and Riley Freeman and their Granddad are not just property to me. They are my fictional blood relatives. Nothing is more painful than to leave them behind.
To quote a great white man, “Hollywood is a business.” And to quote another great white man, “Don’t hold grudges.”
What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks — particularly the television show and its relatively young audience. It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable.
As for me, I’m finally putting a life of controversy and trouble-making behind me with my upcoming Adult Swim show, “Black Jesus.”
Goldstein continues: McGruder’s absence from the fourth season of “The Boondocks” is a sore point for fans of the show, but if anyone is equipped to explain the pain and loss it is unironically Aaron McGruder. In the first year of the comic strip’s syndication, he told Baltimore’s CityPaper.com,
“This is a strange job. The combination of talents that you need to be a daily cartoonist is weird. And we are weirdos. Charles Schulz has this really dark streak that comes out in Peanuts ... Lynn Johnston talks about dealing with depression. [Calvin and Hobbes creator] Bill Watterson is up in a cabin somewhere. And I have my own head stuff. Doing this day in and day out is hard.”
The comparison to Watterson and Schulz is particularly poignant given each creator’s approach to media rights. Watterson never authorized his characters for reproduction in other media, and yet the place most people see Calvin these days is stuck to the back windows of trucks peeing on things. And as for Schulz, last Christmas ABC aired the Charlie Brown special for the 40th year, not shown were the lesser known cartoons produced direct-to-video after Schulz’s death. [Being a blithely ignorant old gaffer, I don’t know about any of these and, in fact, doubt that there are any.]
Unlike those post-Schulz Peanuts, McGruder has not disappeared. He will return in Adult Swim’s “Black Jesus,” which Boondocks fans will recognize as the title of Boondocks protagonist Huey Freeman’s play from Season 1. That show received a “twenty minute standing ovation” and was called “a stunning revolution in theater” by the completely unbiased Woodcrest Post Gazette. This incarnation of Black Jesus is live action and features a modern day Christ, complete with apostles, healing the sick and the lame on the pavement of Compton, California.
Concludes Goldstein: The real Jesus, if he existed at all, only preached for about two years before he was crucified by Rome. Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks has been around for almost 20 and it's come back from the dead more than once. And besides, what is walking on water and feeding the masses some meager loaves and fishes besides parlor magic and Judaic frugality. But getting a show with an all-black cast on American television? That's some kind of miracle.