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Aaron McGruder, creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip “The Boondocks,” will speak on “What’s the Color of Funny? Race, Society, and Comic Strips,” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Jaqua Auditorium, Hugel Science Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

McGruder will discuss the role of comic strips in improving racial discourse in America. He also will address the response to his treatment of issues related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., including the suspension of his strip by the New York Daily News.

McGruder’s visit is sponsored by the American Studies program, the English department, the First-Year Seminar program, the Intercultural Development Office, and the Office of the Provost.

“He’s interested in expanding the discourse on race in America,” Andrew Smith, instructor of English, says of McGruder. “I think students will be able to connect with what he’s talking about.”

While Smith initially conceived the idea of inviting McGruder to address themes being discussed in his Introduction to American Studies class, the numerous sponsors of his visit are indicative of the many different issues the lecture will raise, he says.

“McGruder allows us to talk about popular culture in a visual way; he allows us to talk about race in a frank way,” says Smith. “He’s steeped in hip-hop culture, and also very topical.”

McGruder began “The Boondocks” while in college, creating a group of African-American city youth adjusting to life in white suburbia. The strip combines childhood antics with contemporary political and social satire.

After an initial debut on the Internet, “The Boondocks” made its print debut in 1997 in The Diamondback, the independent student newspaper of the University of Maryland. After McGruder graduated with a degree in African-American studies, The Source, one of the country’s largest urban music magazines, began publishing the strip. Universal Press Syndicate started syndicating “The Boondocks” to newspapers in 1999.

Stories about “The Boondocks” have appeared in Time, Newsweek, People, National Journal, The Washington Post, London’s The Guardian, and numerous other newspapers and magazines. McGruder has been profiled on all three major U.S. television networks, PBS’s “The Charlie Rose Show,” and “Johnnie Cochran Tonight,” among others.

McGruder lives in Los Angeles.

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