Unfunny Business | EW.com

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Unfunny Business

Aaron McGruder's strip The Boondocks finds his satirical strip banned in New York

Since 1999, Aaron McGruder?s comic strip ?Boondocks,? which runs in over 250 newspapers and stars two amusingly surly African-American kids who live with their grandfather in a white middle-class suburb, has taken jokey potshots at everything from white paranoia to Whitney Houston. On Sept. 24, McGruder began a series of strips in response to the Sept. 11 attacks—including one that tweaked Americans? ?blind, unquestioning faith in our almost-elected leaders.? One week later, the strip was banished from New York?s Daily News, replaced by a Jumbo X-Word puzzle.

McGruder, 27, who has won praise for bringing political savvy and African-American sensibilities to a medium not known for either, expected some newspapers to nix his controversial strip. (Besides the Daily News, the only other paper to take action was The Dallas Morning News, which pulled two strips and then moved the comic to another part of the features section.) ?But this isn?t some broad argument about the role of comic strips as much as it is about the control of information,? McGruder contends. ?It?s this notion that in a time of crisis we need to be less critical of our leadership that I just think is ass backwards.?

?The paper feels that heavy-duty politics doesn?t belong in the funny pages and when the strip returns to a milder line, we?ll reinstitute it,? says Daily News spokesman Ken Frydman. The News is, however, continuing to run Garry Trudeau?s Doonesbury, which has also dealt with the aftermath of Sept. 11 (the strip?s current plotline has Mike on a plane, terrified, sitting next to an Arab-American passenger). Trudeau, however, self-censored his strips the week of Sept. 17, pulling material that mocked the Bush administration. In a statement, Trudeau called his own squelched strips ?clearly unsuitable for publication during a time of national crisis.?

McGruder warns that his comic strip won?t soon return to apolitical fare. ?I could talk about Puffy, but nobody cares about Puffy. The whole world has changed and you can?t remove the impact of this incident from any aspect of life,? he says. ?So when I?m asked ?Well, how long are you going to talk about this?? it?s like being asked ?How long are you going to talk about the world???