Deconstructing Whiteness in “Incognegro”

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2020-12-06 03:11Z by Steven

Deconstructing Whiteness in “Incognegro”

Interminable Rambling

Matthew Teutsch, Director of the Lillian E. Smith
Piedmont College, Demorest, Georgia

Every semester, I am amazed at the connective tissue that runs through the texts I place on the syllabus and the themes that arise. No matter the class, I construct my courses around themes, all teachers do. However, when a class ends poignantly on a recurring theme, I find it a really serendipitous occasion. This semester, in my Ethnic American Literature course, we explored the ways that we, as individuals, construct our identities based on ourselves and on the ways that others view us, specifically when they place their preconceived notions upon us. We looked at this from the beginning of the semester through the end. We explored it in the ways that Manar navigates her identity in a new land in Mohja Kahf’s “Manar of Hama” to the ways that Long Vanh navigates his Afro-Asian identity in the face of the community and his own family in Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land South of the Clouds.

We concluded the semester with Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro, a graphic novel that breaks down constructs of race and highlights the ways that society, especially those who want to maintain power, constructs one’s identity. Today, I want to look at a couple of moments from Incognegro and discuss how these moments add to the class’s discussions we have had throughout the course of the semester…

Read the entire article here.

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Slavery graphic novel goes to schools to shed light on Scots history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Teaching Resources, United Kingdom on 2018-08-21 03:05Z by Steven

Slavery graphic novel goes to schools to shed light on Scots history

The National

Kirsteen Paterson

The work is an 'ambitious collaboration' between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University
The work is an ‘ambitious collaboration’ between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University

EVERY third year pupil in Scotland is to be schooled on Scotland’s slave past thanks to a new graphic novel.

As many as 12,000 copies of Freedom Bound, which draws from research into slavery in the 1700s, are to be distributed around the country within weeks.

The work is an “ambitious collaboration” between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University, with illustrations from veteran artist Warren Pleece, whose credits include DC Comics and 2000AD.

The result is 144 pages that tell the stories of three people brought to Scotland to serve white masters…

…Launching the online archive in June, Professor Simon Newman of Glasgow University, who worked on Freedom Bound, said the loss of slave stories from the national memory had been “accidental”, telling The National: “Because there weren’t huge numbers of these people, because they formed relationships with the white population, they just disappeared.

“I suspect there are a good number of us who have African DNA.”

Read the entire article here.

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Incognegro: Renaissance #1

Posted in Articles, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:31Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance #1

Dark Horse Comics
32 pages
b&w, Miniseries
UPC: 7 61568 00235 5 00111

Writer: Mat Johnson
Artist: Warren Pleece
Editor: Karen Berger

After a black writer is found dead at a scandalous interracial party in 1920s New York, Harlem’s cub reporter Zane Pinchback is the only one determined to solve the murder. Zane must go ”incognegro” for the first time–using his light appearance to pass as a white man–to find the true killer, in this prequel miniseries to the critically acclaimed Vertigo graphic novel, now available in a special new 10th Anniversary Edition.

With a cryptic manuscript as his only clue, and a mysterious and beautiful woman as the murder’s only witness, Zane finds himself on the hunt through the dark and dangerous streets of ”roaring twenties” Harlem in search for justice.

A page-turning thriller of racial divide, Incognegro: Renaissance explores segregation, secrets, and self-image as our race-bending protagonist penetrates a world where he feels stranger than ever before.

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Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:12Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White


Charles Pulliam-Moore

Dark Horse

In Dark Horse’s Incognegro: Renaissance, Zane Pinchback—a young black journalist and New York transplant by way of Tupelo, Mississippi—finds himself smack dab in the middle of Harlem at the height of its Renaissance during the 1920s. Zane, like Incognegro: Renaissance creator Mat Johnson, is a black man with a light enough complexion that people are sometimes unsure or entirely unaware of his race.

To those who know him, Zane’s identity isn’t a question, but for many of the new people he encounters in New York—particularly the white ones—Zane is able to pass as white, and thus move through certain spaces that other black people can’t. Drawn by Warren Pleece, Incognegro: Renaissance opens on a very taboo and illegal book party in Harlem where black and white people co-mingle as the champagne flows freely.

When a black guest suddenly turns up dead of an apparent suicide, the authorities show up on the scene to shut the gathering down, but have zero interest in investigating whether the death may be a homicide because the man is black. Realizing that his ability to pass (and willingness to do work others won’t) might allow him to dig deeper into the potential crime, Zane sets out on a mission to uncover the truth.

When I spoke with Johnson recently about his inspiration for the new series, he explained that much of the core premise is based on his own experiences and a life-long love of Walter Francis White, the civil rights activist who was the head of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955. But what Johnson really wants readers to get out of the series, he said, was a better understanding of the fact that identity in all its forms is fluid…

Read the entire interview here.

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Incognegro, A Graphic Mystery

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2015-11-28 19:06Z by Steven

Incognegro, A Graphic Mystery

136 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-140121097

Mat Johnson, Author

Warren Pleece, Artist

Mat Johnson, 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 Warren 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 for white. They called this dangerous assignment going “incognegro.” Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, is 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.

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“Watch me go invisible”: Representing Racial Passing in Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-11-28 15:53Z by Steven

“Watch me go invisible”: Representing Racial Passing in Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro

South Central Review
Volume 32, Number 3, Fall 2015
pages 45-69

Sinéad Moynihan, Senior Lecturer
University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom

This essay examines the potential of the graphic novel as a vehicle to explore one of the most enduring tropes in American culture: racial passing. As what Hillary Chute and Marianne DeKoven term a “hybrid project,” graphic narrative has the potential to pose “a challenge to the structure of binary classification that opposes a set of terms, privileging one.” Since passing narratives are themselves devoted to unsettling binaries – racial binaries – this essay considers the marrying of the graphic novel and the passing narrative in Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro (2008). How, in other words, can what Scott McCloud terms “the art of the invisible” (comics) depict what Joel Williamson memorably calls “invisible blackness”?

The essay is particular interested in two aspects of Incognegro’s hybridity, one of which relates content, the other to form. First, in terms of content, the collaborators make several significant revisions to the comic book’s signature character, the superhero, amalgamating the conventions of the superhero story with those of passing narratives in order to destabilise some of both genres’ most telling assumptions. Second, in terms of formal devices, this essay examines the particular combination of visual and textual vocabularies deployed in Incognegro to portray the ambiguously-raced subject, comparing it to the ways in which such subjects have been racially-encoded in more conventional literary and cinematic narratives of passing. Ultimately, this essay considers whether Incognegro’s hybrid properties offer new political possibilities for the narrative of racial passing.

Read or purchase the article here.

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