by Carmen Van Kerckhove
Mat Johnson is winner of the prestigious Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction and currently teaches at the University of Houston, Creative Writing Program. Read more about him at Niggerati. Click the thumbnails below to read full-size pages from his new graphic novel, Incognegro.
Carmen: Mat – congrats on all the great media coverage your new book is getting! (New York Times, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle)
Mat: Thanks. It’s a hell of a lot better than watching a book tank, I’ll tell you that.
Carmen: LOL I’m sure. Well you’ve been a co-host on our podcast, Addicted to Race a couple times (episode 57 and episode 61)…
Mat: I miss that. We had fun.
Carmen: …and longtime listeners will remember that former co-host Jen and I used to do a segment called “Racial Spy.” Your book takes the racial spy concept to a whole new level – can you explain to our readers what Incognegro is all about?
Mat: Incognegro is about a mixed race Negro journalist who looks white who investigates lynchings in the 1930s. The story is about when his own brother is framed for a murder, and he must go Incognegro to solve the crime and free him.
Carmen: As soon as I read that synopsis, I was hooked.
Mat: So was Vertigo. I sold them the idea based on the synopsis. [Note from Carmen: Vertigo is Mat’s publisher, they’re an imprint of DC Comics.]
Carmen: How did you come to make Incognegro a graphic novel?
Mat: I have read comics since I was 6 and still read them. I thought this story had the elements of the comic hero, but had the chance to do something new in the form as well. With my prose, the work is character based, prose based. Graphic writing just let me focus on the story and the dialogue.
Carmen: I think the format really works well – as I was reading it, I kept imagining what an awesome movie it would make. Speaking of… I hear there is interest in turning Incognegro into a film. Anything you can say on record about that at this point? Read the Post Interview with Mat Johnson, author of graphic novel Incognegro