Cincy ‘Enquirer’ Cancels ‘Boondocks’

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By: Dave Astor

Reader reaction was relatively muted to The Cincinnati Enquirer’s cancellation of “The Boondocks” last week. The paper stopped buying Aaron McGruder’s comic partly because it was frequently pulling specific strips.

As of Jan. 9, about 300 people had contacted the Enquirer (Click for QuikCap) about the cancellation of “The Boondocks” and four other comics, according to Sara Pearce, assistant managing editor for features. She told E&P that the pulling of “Agnes” drew the most response, followed by “Cathy” and then “The Boondocks.”

Pearce — who was in the process of replying to each reader when interviewed — did not yet have a figure for how many readers praised or protested “The Boondocks” removal. Pearce did note that there’s “always a chance” any canceled comic will return if enough readers complain.

Why did the Enquirer drop “The Boondocks”? Pearce, in an article to readers, wrote: “We did not want to keep publishing a comic that we regularly needed to censor. During the past year, ‘Boondocks’ was substituted a number of times because it was deemed inappropriate for a family newspaper.” She said the comic “has its fans” but makes others “uncomfortable.”

It’s not unusual for a newspaper to cancel a comic for various reasons, ranging from too controversial to over the hill. Also, a paper might want to save money or make room for another comic.

Greg Melvin, associate editor of Universal Press Syndicate and McGruder’s editor, said: “I respect the Enquirer’s right to drop a strip that doesn’t meet its needs. It’s their newspaper.” But he did note that “The Boondocks” is popular among younger readers — a demographic, said Universal Director of Communications Kathie Kerr, “most newspapers are eager to embrace.”

Younger readers don’t respond to newspaper polls as much as older readers do, said Melvin. McGruder’s strip finished 20th out of 24 comics in a recent Enquirer survey that drew a huge total of 15,000-plus responses.

After the Enquirer dropped “The Boondocks,” Kathy Wilson of Cincinnati’s CityBeat weekly wrote: “‘Boondocks’ is honest, daring, acerbic, fresh, and funny as hell. But ain’t a damned thing funny about stripping the strip.”

Melvin said Universal gets an average of two calls a week from a “Boondocks” client that wants to substitute a particular strip, but few newspapers cancel McGruder’s comic completely — as the Enquirer did. “The Boondocks” has about 250 subscribers.

The other two comics dropped by the Enquirer were “Mary Worth” and “James.” Five comics added were “Red & Rover,” “Flo & Friends,” “The Hots,” “Frazz,” and “Tina’s Groove.”

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