Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Written by Mat Johnson
Art by Warren Pleece
Book Review by Dan Tres Omi
It is a nerd's sweet revenge when graphic novels and comic books are considered literature. It is about time that these genres get their recognition. In the last few years, we have seen several comic books (I.e., Y: The Last Man ,
Ex Machina ) and graphic novels garner critical acclaim. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery is another one of those novels that are definitely top choice. It is published by DC's own Vertigo line. Although I have never been a huge fan of DC comics, their Vertigo line has released several high quality graphic novels such as Sentences: the Life of Grimm and DMZ.
Although the story in Incognegro is fictional, it is based on the true accounts of African American news reporters who traveled to the deep south in the early 20th century to cover lynchings. This African Americans could pass for European Americans and infiltrated many lynchings. This was called “going incognegro.”
Zane Pinchback, an incognegro, decides to pull one more stunt even after almost being caught playing a white man during a lynching in Mississippi. This time, the stakes are higher as he learns that his brother is framed for the murder of a white woman. He takes his friend Carl, another African American who can pass for white but who is an actor, along with him. To make matters worse, Carl heads into Tupelo, Mississippi and poses as an Englishman and has the entire town infatuated with his British airs. Pinchback also learns that the woman his brother is accused of killing is actually not dead.
What the reader will appreciate about this graphic novel is that it is drawn in black and white. At times, even the reader will not be able to tell who Pinchback or Carl is when he is drawn amongst white people. This adds much more mystery to the story and also makes the reader see how these reporters were able to get the inside scoop.
Mat Johnson's writing is top notch. The story twists and turns almost at each panel. The ending will shock everyone. The final panel caused this reader to laugh out loud while on a bank line. Non comic book readers will get a big kick out of Incognegro. Warren Pleece's work shines and both of them work well together.