Incognegro

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Editorial Reviews

George Gene Gustines
Zane Pinchback, a reporter for The New Holland Herald of New York, is a black man who can pass for white. Zane uses this ability to go undercover to investigate lynchings in the 1930s South. "Identity is open-ended," he proclaims. "Why have just one?" That belief is a theme that comes up in unexpected ways in this engrossing graphic novel, with its smart dialogue and sharp images…The ultimate examples of passing are tied to the central mystery and the coup de grace of Incognegro, both of which are best not revealed here. The former is a tragedy while the latter, which punishes the man behind the lynchings, is a case of both poetic justice and deliberate mistaken identity. The powerful coda well befits the story, much as Incognegro proudly exemplifies the graphic novel.
—The New York Times
Library Journal

This crime noir story was inspired by the real-life Walter White, who passed as white in the Deep South to sleuth out lynchings in the 1930s. Johnson's journalist is Zane Pinchback, writing a Harlem "Incognegro" column that similarly exposes racist atrocities. Zane is about to trade his column for an editor job when he hears that his brother has been set up for murder in Tupelo, so he heads south one last time for an investigative gig too close for comfort. And when jive-ass friend Carl invites himself along, Zane knows the affair could get even more complicated. Then the murdered woman turns up alive, and Zane thinks he can clear his brother's name, but a furious Klan leader and a heartbroken sheriff enter the mix and Carl's posturing as a foreign cognoscente tips Zane's plans into chaos. Heavy-handed at times, the fast-paced plot features multiple twists and a tragic resolution. Pleece's black-and-white art gives a sometimes too static, old-newspaper-photo feel, but his action sequences work well. This would be a fine addition to curricula and African American period studies, conveying the chill of serious racism as no textbook can. Rated mature owing to strong language and violence but still appropriate for older teens.
—Martha Cornog

School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up -This bleak but incredibly compelling and fast-paced historical graphic novel reads like a classic film noir. Beginning with some voice-over narration from our hero, Zane Pinchbeck, the book transports readers to the Deep South of the early 20th century, where they become witness to a lynching. The protagonist is a light-skinned African-American newsman who poses as white to infiltrate pockets of the racist South. Known as Incognegro, he reports for a Harlem newspaper about the events he witnesses. After a close call with the Ku Klux Klan, he decides to retire his alter ego, until he is given an offer he cana't refuse. The ensuing story involves mistaken identity, bizarre love affairs, kidnapping, the frighteningly sad demise of a supporting character, and a thoroughly satisfying end panel. The extreme black-and-white illustrations (there is no gray) add to the noir feel. Both the depictions of violence and the use of racist language can be harsh, but honest, all in keeping with the plot and tone of the story and the time period. However, the book is not without touches of humor, particularly in Zane's tagalong playboy friend. Johnson and Pleece have combined their considerable talents to create this cinematic portrayal of one of America's most shameful time periods.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401210977
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Publication date: 2/6/2008
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    A reviewer

    This powerful collection of poems caused emotions to emerge that energized my very existance. This book is a must read for anyone trying to better understand those would are outside of the inner circles of our society. It is also a must read especially for every Black American.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2008

    His best work yet!

    I have read all of Mr. Johnson's books and this book of poetic reflections is his best work yet!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    Issues we need to address

    I initially planned to read only one poem. After reading the poem, I was hooked. I didn't put the book down until I had read every poem. The poetry was very thought provoking. It opened my eyes and my mind to issues I have never faced. I would strongly recommend the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2009

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