Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Johnny Come Lately: Incognegro

Action Ash 
I had flirted with the idea of buying this when it first came out but for some reason I never did. That was about three years ago and I had completely forgotten about it until Chaos City had a sale that I noticed it again and decided to make the purchase. I'm glad I did because this book was a fantastic read and is a fitting example of how the comic is a medium that can be used to tell all kinds of stories.

For those of you who don't know, Incognegro is the story of an extremely light skinned black man named Zane Pinchback who uses his genetic lot to go undercover, posing as a white man and reporting on the lynchings in then southern states. When his darker skinned brother is arrested for murder he decides to go "Incognegro" again and find out what really happened before his brother becomes the next lynch victim of a small southern town in Mississippi.

Set in the 1930's, this book is an intriguing look at the racial views of the time and shows you just how different being black was in the south, as opposed to somewhere like New York. However, Mat Johnson tells the story in a matter of fact way without trying to ram a message down your throat. It's clear that what is happening is wrong, but you are left to see that yourself without being beaten over the head with it too much.

The art is beautifully handled in stark black and white by Warren Pleece, and there is a remarkable attention to detail while keeping it relatively simple at the same time. Also, I would like to point out something which, as a person of black heritage I appreciated very much. Pleece draws black people that look like black people, with black features and although in black and white it is clear who the black characters are. This is refreshing to see in a medium where a lot of artists just draw a white person and colour them in brown (e.g. Storm from X-men, M from Generation X and some versions of Bishop... maybe it's just X-Men titles?).

A great crime thriller set against the backdrop of a time that was turbulent to say the least. I heartily recommend it.


2badguys said...

They don't even colour M in brown half the time!