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Comic Book / Incognegro

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Incognegro is a black-and-white graphic novel written by Mat Johnson and illustrated by Warren Pleece, published by DC Comics imprint Vertigo in February 2008.

The plot of the graphic novels follows Zane Pinchback, a reporter for a black newspaper in the early 1930s New York City. He goes to the American South to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi. He goes undercover as a white person due to his fairer skin to save his brother and uncover the truth.A prequel, Incognegro: Renaissance, was published in 2018 at Dark Horse Comics, with the same creative team.


Tropes associated with this work:

  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Francis' family is shown to be both insane, racist, and knew that Francis was a female victim who was pretending as a man and her status as a deputy to Sheriff of Tupelo.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Michaela was actually a true murderer, blaming Zane's brother to take over his moonshine distillery.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: While Zane saved his brother from being lynched and convicted for murder, Carl was lynched by the mob. On the other hand, Huey would possibly be lynched by a mob when Zane published a false story that he's a light skinned black reporter posing as a white man.
  • But Not Too Black: Invoked, as Zane and his friend Carl are light-skinned enough to pass as white. They aren't found out until Carl decides to raise his profile by mingling with the white upperclass.
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  • Deep South: The setting of the graphic novel.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Mat Johnson showed the morality of 1930's South through the lynchings, which many of the participants even take a photo of them as memorabilia.
  • Femme Fatale: Michaela Mathers
  • Intrepid Reporter: Zane.
  • Karmic Death: Huey, possibly lynched after Zane published a false article that he's the "Incognegro," or a light skinned undercover reporter.
  • Pass Fail: Zane and his brother, Alonzo, has the same white father and black mother. The problem is that Zane's skin was light enough to pass for white but Alonzo can't.
  • Reality Subtext: Mat Johnson, the writer of Incognegro, was half-African American half-White himself and met Walther White (not the one from Breaking Bad) whose lighter skin allowed him to go undercover on lynchings in the South.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Sheriff of Tupelo stand out among the white inhabitants due to his lack of interest in lynching and help Zane and his brother escape from the town after Michaela Mathers was exposed as the true culprit and killed during a struggle.
  • Scary Black Man: Cited as part of the reason his Zane's brother was arrested, the other part being plain old racism.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: The Sheriff's deputy, Francis, is actually a female victim who pose as a male.