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Incognegro by Mat Johnson

Incognegro (2008)

by Mat Johnson, Warren Pleece (Illustrator)

Other authors: Clem Robins (Letterer)

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2441447,176 (3.83)10

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I have to admit that I wasn't sure this would be a hit for me - the murder mystery is not always my cup of tea. But reading the author's introduction, detailing his life as a "black boy who could pass for white", and learning how much that influenced the writing of this novel, I was intrigued. And then the novel itself was just really really good.

I thought the historical information was well-integrated into a page-turning thriller, and the twists were genuinely surprising. I was significantly more drawn in than I ever expected to be, and I enjoyed the reading of this graphic novel greatly. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Oct 17, 2015 |
The author was inspired to write this story after reading about NAACP leader Walter White posing as a white man and going undercover in the early 20th century to investigate lynchings in the deep south. It's a disturbing, painful, and sometimes funny story. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Warren Pleece's black and white panels unfold Mat Johnson's compelling story of an undercover African American journalist in the Harlem Renaissance--the Incognegro. Passing for white, Zane Pinchback is able to attend and report on Klan lynchings to try to bring those murderers to justice. ( )
  kivarson | Jan 9, 2011 |
A New York City reporter passes for white, going around the South and reporting on lynchings as Incognegro. When he goes to one small Southern town before the lynching, it’s not to report—it’s to save his brother, who’s in jail for the murder of a white woman. Intrigue and all kinds of passing, lies, and betrayal ensue. A good read (can you say that about a graphic novel?), without either triumphalism or despair. ( )
  rivkat | Oct 28, 2010 |
The Short and Sweet of It
Zane is a reporter in Harlem. He is black, but he can pass as a white man, and this skill allows him to infiltrate the south and reveal the horrors of lynch mobs. When an assignment goes bad, he barely escapes with his life, and he returns to Harlem determined to stop his incognegro work. But when Zane's brother is arrested for murdering a white woman down in Mississippi, Zane has to go undercover once more.

A Bit of a Ramble
I went into this graphic novel expecting an education on race relations in the 1930s and what I got was an entertaining mystery which was also powerfully informative and moving. The author, Mat Johnson, "grew up a black boy who looked white" and dreamed of using his appearance to promote racial equality. While in college, he read about Walter White, a pale-skinned black man who went undercover to investigate lynchings in the deep south. This is the inspiration for Incognegro.

It would be very difficult to read this graphic novel and not admire and fear for the protagonist, Zane. I would hazard a guess that everyone picking it up comes in to the story with negative feelings about lynchings and a deep understanding of the hate, sorrow, despair, and fear surrounding race relations in the 1930s. For most, it requires very little prompting to call up the emotions necessary to access the book.

I do want to stress that while the book is certainly evocative, it is also entertaining. The plot is a well-crafted mystery with unique characters. My mind continually strayed from thinking about the "message" to wondering whodunit and how.

Drawn in stark black and white panels, the artwork really makes apparent the difficulty of assigning race and the fluidity of race. The characters don't have skin tones, so the distinction between the black and white characters is practically non-existent. ( )
1 vote EclecticEccentric | Jul 24, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Incognegro is an involving melodrama with serious undertones, a wild ride to make a point about forgotten history.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mat Johnsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pleece, WarrenIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Robins, ClemLetterersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Between 1889 and 1918, 2,522 negroes were murdered by lynch mobs in America.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140121097X, Hardcover)

Writer Mat Johnson (HELLBLAZER: PAPA MIDNITE), winner of the prestigious Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction, constructs a fearless graphic novel that is both a page-turning mystery and a disturbing exploration of race and self-image in America, masterfully illustrated with rich period detail by Wareen Pleece (THE INVISIBLES, HELLBLAZER).

In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could "pass" among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going "incognegro."

Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald barely escapes with his life after his latest "incognegro" story goes bad. But when he returns to the sanctuary of Harlem, he's sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi.

With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane must stay "incognegro" long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder in order to save his brother -- and himself. He finds that the answers are buried beneath layers of shifting identities, forbidden passions and secrets that run far deeper than skin color.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:47 -0400)

"The early 20th Century: an era when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South. To most of the press, this epidemic of racial murder wan't even news. But a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were light-skinned African-American men who could 'pass' for white. They called this dangerous assignment 'going incognegro.' Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, barely escapes with his life after his latest 'incognegro' story goes bad. But when he returns to the sanctuary of Harlem, he's sent on a new story-- the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi" -- from dust jacket.… (more)

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