Tag Archives: mat johnson

Review: Incognegro Renaissance #1

You’ll know all about Zane Pinchblack if you have read Incognegro, the masterful 2008 Vertigo graphic novel by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece. Even if you haven’t  (and you totally should) you should still find Incognegro: Renaissance, published this week under the banner of Dark Horse‘s Berger Books imprint, one hundred percent approachable.

Johnson and Pleece both return for a prequel, an origin story of that explains how Zane, a young African American reporter covering the arts scene New York  during the Harlem Renaissance, became The Incognegro: an undercover journalist exposing the fetid underbelly of racism at the beginning of the American Century. When a black man is found dead at a party full of wealthy white literati the police are only too happy to label it a suicide. Zane decides to use the fact that he is light skinned enough to pass for white to investigate the truth.

Comparisons between the two series are inevitable but also bit premature. The original Incognegro is a complete piece of work, conceived of and published as a true graphic novel. Renaissance is a serial story being told in monthly chunks. While it has a good beginning it’s hard to say how it will end. Based on what I’ve seen so far however, it is shaping up to be at least as good as its predecessor if not as groundbreaking.

As a James Baldwin Fellow whose first novel was a Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Selection, Johnson has a much more literary pedigree than other traditional novelists who have found success in comics but he clearly understands the medium just as well. His dialog is pithy and to the point, capable of shifting between divergent points of view so that every character has a distinctive voice. He also knows when to have the characters stop talking and let the art carry the load.

Speaking of the art Pleece is just as good as he was ten years ago. His style is understated but distinctive, capable of capturing a range of emotions in the characters while simultaneously evoking them in the reader. There is just enough abstraction to allow for the greatest possible identification between the reader and the characters but not so much that it descends to the level of a cartoon. Everything moves at a good clip despite the fact that there is no real action to speak of and you’re never left wondering which way to move your eyes. Clem Robbins lettering is smooth and easy to follow as well.

In a day and age when too many creators feel like interchangeable cogs in a corporate machine and too many comics feel like they are mass produced to appeal to the majority of hypothetical readers a book like Incognegro Renaissance is refreshing because it is unique. This is a book that only Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece could have made and one of the best things I’ve read this year in any format.  

Story: Mat Johnson Art: Warren Pleece Lettering: Clem Robbins
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy.

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece Reunite for Incognegro: Renaissance

Dark Horse and Berger Books are excited to reveal art from acclaimed novelist Mat Johnson and veteran artist Warren Pleece’supcoming series, Incognegro: Renaissance. This new series is a perfect companion and prequel to the tenth-anniversary edition of the 2008 Vertigo graphic novel, Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery.

Incognegro: Renaissance is a new prequel series that follows cub reporter Zane Pinchback through the glittering nightlife of the Harlem Renaissance as he goes undercover, passing as white, for the first time. When a black writer is found dead at a scandalous interracial party in 1920s New York, Zane is the only one determined to solve the murder. Zane goes “incognegro” for the first time to bring the murderer to justice. 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.

The tenth-anniversary edition of Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery finds Zane Pinchback going “incognegro” to investigate the arrest of his own brother who is 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. This edition of the acclaimed and fearless graphic novel features enhanced toned art, an afterword by Mat Johnson, character sketches, and other additional material.

The first issue of Incognegro: Renaissance goes on sale February 07, 2018Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery goes on sale February 06, 2018 and retails for $19.99.

Berger Books Details Revealed

In early 2017, Dark Horse announced Berger Books, a new line of creator-owned comic books and graphic novels, from Karen Berger, the legendary, award-winning comic book editor and founder of DC Comics’ influential imprint Vertigo. Today, Dark Horse has revealed the new imprint’s premiere titles. Berger Books will release four new comics series, each to be later collected as a graphic novel: Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose; Incognegro: Renaissance by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece; Mata Hari by Emma Beeby and Ariela Kristantina, and The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja. Berger Books will also publish a tenth-anniversary edition of Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece and The Originals: The Essential Edition by Dave Gibbons.

Author, chef and Emmy award-winning television star Anthony Bourdain and acclaimed writer Joel Rose tell haunting tales of terror, irritable spirits, and horribly strange beings in Hungry Ghosts, a four-issue anthology series including art by Vanesa Del Rey, Leo Manco, Alberto Ponticelli, Paul Pope, and Mateus Santolouco. Inspired by the Japanese Edo Period game Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai or 100 Candles, played by samurai warriors to test their courage, Hungry Ghosts reimagines this classic game of dread and terror as a circle of international chefs invoke modern tales of horror, terrifying yokai, yorei, and obake, all with the common thread of food. Hungry Ghosts #1 goes on sale January 31, 2018.

Acclaimed novelist Mat Johnson  and veteran artist Warren Pleece reunite for Incognegro: Renaissance, a new prequel series that follows cub reporter Zane Pinchback through the glittering nightlife of the Harlem Renaissance as he goes undercover, passing as white, for the first time. The first issue (of five) goes on sale February 7, 2018. This new series is a perfect companion to the tenth-anniversary edition of the 2008 Vertigo graphic novel, Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery features enhanced toned art, an afterword by Mat Johnson, character sketches, and other additional material. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery finds Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, 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. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery goes on sale February 6, 2018, and is available for preorder on Amazon, Penguin Random House, and at your local comic shop.

Breakout talent, writer Emma Beeby and artist Ariela Kristantina join together for a new five-issue series based on the controversial and historical figure, Mata Hari. Mata Hari is notorious as the original “stripper-spy”: exotic dancer, convicted double agent, and femme fatale. Executed by a French firing squad in 1917, many have since questioned the conviction. A century after her death, Mata Hari tells her story through fictional diary excerpts, drawn from biographies of the real woman whose past has been shrouded in mystery by both the lies of her accusers and the outlandish stories she told about herself. The first issue of Mata Hari goes on sale February 21, 2018.

Award-winning artist David Aja and filmmaker, journalist and writer Ann Nocenti team up for The Seeds, a new four-issue series. In an imminent America where fact-based reporting is gasping its last breath, an idealistic journalist stumbles into the story of a lifetime, only to realize that she can’t report it. Instead, she has to pitch the biggest myth of her career. An eco-fiction tech-thriller where flora and fauna have begun to mutate, The Seeds is also a story of love beyond race and gender, and of the resilience of both human and animal kind. The first issue of The Seeds goes on sale March 28, 2018.

The Originals: The Essential Edition is an oversized new edition of Vertigo’s 2004 Eisner award-winning graphic novel from comics legend, Dave Gibbons. In a retro-futuristic city of industrial gray where hover scooters, music, and drugs rule the street, The Originals are the toughest, most stylish gang around. For two childhood friends, nothing is more important than being one of them, but being part of the crowd will bring its own deadly consequences. This new edition includes 32 pages of never-before-seen development art, process pieces, and behind the scenes extras—all annotated by Gibbons. The Originals: The Essential Edition goes on sale April 18, 2018.

Around the Tubes

The long weekend is almost here.  Yay!

Around the Blogs:

Grantland – Northstar’s Same-Sex Wedding and Comic Books’ Uncomfortable History With Gay HeroesA really good read.

CBR – Mat Johnson On Race, The Right Wing & “Right State” – I can’t wait to read this.

Around the Tubes Reviews:

ERS Ink – Animal Man Volume 1: The Hunt

CBR – Batman Incorporated #1

Flames Rising – Dear Creature

Booke Sake – Green Lantern Vol. 1: Sinestro

Poisoned Rationality – Superman Earth One Vol 1

Complex – Review: “Batman Incorporated” Returns To DC’s “New 52” Universe In Excellent Fashion

Paste Magazine – Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round-Up (5/23/12)

Review – Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story


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Dark Rain: A New Orleans StoryMuch has been written and filmed about Katrina and the events surrounding the failure of our government to protect it’s citizens.  Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story, published by Vertigo, written by Mat Johnson with art by Simon Gane take on the tragic events through the eyes of a couple of not so typical characters.

The story is a crime thriller set in the days before, during and after the national tragedy.  The story follows two ex-cons and a plan to rob a bank.  The beauty of the story is how it deftly touches upon the chaos and mood that permeated that time.  The story could of easily fell into the incorrectly reported events, but instead focuses on the tragedy that fell not upon a race but a class.

There’s subtle commentary here.  Reasons for the slow response are hinted at as well as the reaction from surrounding communities.  No finger is squarely pointed, but a lot is left for the reader to chew on.

The crime thriller is good on it’s own.  But wrap that with the social and political commentary and you have an amazing read.

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