Zane Pinchback, the light-skinned reporter from the black newspaper The New Holland Herald is back! The graphic novel Incognegro introduced us to Zane and the daring way he goes about writing stories about the lynchings that were taking place all over the south during the 1920s.
Zane continues to use this approach in a new graphic novel called Incognegro Renaissance #1. This will be the first in a series of graphic novels featuring Zane Pinchback and continues to take place in New York during the Harlem Renaissance, giving the name to the series.
The story begins of course with a murder as most mysteries do, but soon we see that Mat Johnson the author is setting central characters, setting, but most of all social complexities of this time period for black people. We’re in New York and Johnson shows the race division was clearly traced of where black people were allowed to be even within the famous Cotton Club of the time located in the heart of Harlem. Zane is a determined reporter and won’t stop until he uncovers the truth.
Incognegro Renaissance #1 is a pretty straight forward mystery, with beautiful black and white artwork from Warren Pleece who also drew for Incognegro. The graphic novel is split into 5 major chapters. The 2 major complaints I have with Incognegro Renaissance #1 is that it’s too short and secondly the pages aren’t numbered. I was expecting the story to be a lot more developed like Incognegro, but I guess Mat Johnson is taking his time to build this series. Despite those two complaints, it was a very quick and enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to seeing how Zane passing for white helps him solve the murders of black people but also affects his relationships with his friends and colleagues in future volumes.
I recommend beginning with Incognegro because it will give you more background on the character of Zane Pinchback, as well as the other minor characters surrounding him. You’ll then be able to get into the prequel, Incognegro Renaissance #1 with a better feel of the story. I checked to see if the following graphic novels Incognegro #2 and Incognegro #3 have been released. I found that they have been but sadly only in Kindle format. I’ll have to wait until they come out in paper format and I have no idea when that will be. If and when I hear anything I’ll let you know. If you hear anything please let me know. 🙂
Incognegro Renaissance #1, hardcover (Berger Books)