Aaron McGruder is a successful American cartoonist best known for writing and drawing the Controversial Comic Strips & TV Show “The Boondocks“, based on two young African American brothers from inner-city Chicago now living with their grandfather in a sedate suburb.
Aaron McGruder, started drawing in his teenage years. Through his own research, Aaron knew that most professional cartoonists are self-employed. So in some sense, Aaron knew what he was getting his self into. For example, he knew that professional cartoonists typically had their work disseminated through newspapers via syndicates. This allowed Aaron to focus his energies effectively.
In hopes of polishing his craft, Aaron began submitting his comic strips to the “The Hitlist Online” in 1996. There, he received tremendous feedback. He recalled receiving 100’s of emails with positive feedback. However, he does recall receiving one email that told him he was “wack.” He was able to get his comics into his University paper, which had a readership of 20,000 people. Unfortunately, Aaron’s comic was pulled within 2 months. However, later on in the same year, Aaron’s comic was featured in “The Source” magazine.
Aaron, later, successfully got a writer at “Editor & Publisher” to write a story on him. This got Aaron nation-wide attention. Aaron used this opportunity to get in contact with key people. He contacted these key people associated with syndicates (e.g., Universal Press Syndicate (UPS)) by mail and in person. He met some people from UPS at a National Association of Black Journalists convention.
The UPS expressed interest in Aaron’s work. Having done his research, Aaron knew that it would best he let the lawyers handle the negotiations (something that, from his research, he knew other African American cartoonists didn’t do). This allowed him to maintain rights over all of his characters. Aaron was quoted as saying that in his first year of syndication he would be pulling in a successful income in the “six-figure range.”
Aarons Advice: Get help when you need it. When you’re about to get into negotiations that has to do with your intellectual property, make sure you have lawyers on your side, because if you’re dealing with a large company, they DEFINITELY got lawyers on their side.
Inside the mind of Aaron McGruder – Boondocks Exclusive (Part 1)
Inside the mind of Aaron McGruder – Boondocks Exclusive (Part 2)
Primary Source: Entrepreneurial Small Business by Jerome Katz and Richard Green & Hard Knock TV.