Y’all know I like to drop a little sassy science every now and then. So when I found out that Aaron McGruder, the creator of the popular cartoon, “The Boondocks,” is not the first African American cartoonist to make social commentary and also make a living from it–something hard to do with Black art– I had to share.
Recently, Mark Anthony Neal published an essay on Oliver W. “Ollie” Harrington on TheLoop21.com, Before ‘The Boondocks,’ there was Ollie Harrington.” Here’s an excerpt from the essay:
The Cartoon Network recently broadcast the finale of the third and purportedly last season of Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks. With the series and the now-defunct comic strip, McGruder offered a contrarian view of Blackness through the lens of 1960s-style cultural nationalism, ghettocentric (faux) realism, and just old-school common sense. At it’s best the show never lost sight of the complexity of Black identity, taking equal opportunity shots at both the Pookies and Baracks of the world.
But well before McGruder elevated The Boondocks to the level of social criticism in the tradition of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury and Berke Breathed’s Bloom County (albeit with a hip-hop edge), cartoonist and essayist Oliver W. Harrington set a standard for Black readers throughout the 20th century, combining his signature wit with incisive critiques and observations about Black life in America.
Enjoy y’all! You know Brother Neal always has something good to say!