Investigating INCOGNEGRO – Race in America

Episode 73: Investigating INCOGNEGRO – Race in America

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INCOGNEGRO is one of the most entertaining and important graphic novels I have had the pleasure of reading, and during this podcast, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by brilliant and beautiful people who shared my enthusiasm for this book.Written by Mat Johnson, INCOGNEGRO is about a black reporter in the early 1930’s using his light skin and Eurocentric features to impersonate a white man as he investigates lynchings in the south. This panel was immaculately hosted by Gabby Beans, she kept the conversation going as Malia Knight, Bintu Conte, Travelle Barksdale, and myself gave our shiny two cents on race relations in America, systematic oppression, and of course this hilarious, entertaining, and important comic.

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Written by Mat Johnson, INCOGNEGRO is about a black reporter in the early 1930’s using his light skin and Eurocentric features to impersonate a white man as he investigates lynchings in the south. The podcast panel was immaculately hosted by Gabby Beans, she kept the conversation going as Malia Knight, Bintu Conte, Travelle Barksdale, and myself gave our shiny two cents on race relations in America, systematic oppression, and of course this hilarious, entertaining, and important comic. The current social landscape is occupied by dangerous Trump rallies and the Black Lives Matter movement means there couldn’t have been a better time for this comic to be analyzed and discussed. This book would be relevant at most times in American history, but with themes of race and gender being central to the narrative, our current social climate seemed like a perfect coincidence. An even greater coincidence was that we were able to record this podcast in February, which is considered Black History month (in some parts of this country).

Mat Johnson managed to craft a refreshing noir filled with analysis on racial and gender politics while still finding time for colorful characters and an intriguing murder mystery. INCOGNEGRO truly represents some of the best work in the medium we at ComicsVerse love to analyze deeply. British artist Warren Pleece provided the artwork. In terms of character design, it seemed that Warren Pleece intentionally made the physical differences between black and white characters close to non-existent, and white a black and white color scheme (keeping with the noir theme) the race of the characters is almost impossible to decipher without context. Johnson and Pleece have brought the world and the awesome medium of graphic novels a spectacular, funny, uncomfortable, important book. We hope you enjoy all that we have to say.

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