Vertigo Spotlight: Postcards from the Ledge (No. 2)

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Robert Murray



Welcome back to the Ledge! I hope everyone enjoyed the last installment, detailing some of the exciting works Vertigo is introducing this month. This week, we’re going to look at some preview pages from the upcoming original graphic novel Incognegro, written by Mat Johnson and illustrated by Warren Pleece. Before we do that, I want to thank all of those readers who e-mailed me praise and suggestions for the column. Without your feedback, the Ledge gets pretty lonely and the comments that come from my fingers get pretty scary, so keep those e-mails coming to “murber74@cox.net”.

One of the e-mails I received suggested I shine my spotlight on Vertigo trade paperback collections, which is something I never thought to do. I’m an issue-to-issue reader, so I rarely buy TPBs unless I have missed the original run. Well, I know that a lot of you wait for the trades to come out before you read a particular title, so I will definitely keep that in mind for further columns. On that note, I’m excited that Vertigo will be reprinting two collections from one of my favorite creators, Paul Pope. New editions of Heavy Liquid and 100% will hit stands early next year (Darn it, missed the holidays by that much!). In other news, four Vertigo trades made the Washington Post’s ‘A List’ for 2007. Army @ Love Vol. 1, The Other Side (by my main man, Jason Aaron), Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm and Silverfish all received recognition, once again displaying Vertigo’s commitment to excellence in comic book entertainment.

As a warm-up for our preview, here are the Vertigo Trends of the Week:

  • Variant Covers: For a Vertigo title? Well, it was the first issue of Northlanders, though I wasn’t expecting an Adam Kubert incentive cover! I’ll take Massimo Carnivale’s version any day.

  • Men Seeking Kinky Entertainment: Both Vinyl Underground and Exterminators had underground parties, and both had lots of naked flesh. These comics are for mature readers, kiddies!

  • Ships + Death = Fun: All three issues had some of this, though my favorite had to be Oliver and Moore’s “Buffet of Darkness.” The captain as Kurtz was hilarious!
Now for our feature presentation! For your consideration are five preview pages from Incognegro, a graphic novel that fits well in Vertigo’s cutting edge tradition. I am basically unfamiliar with Johnson and Pleece, but the concept (a light-skinned black reporter passing for white in the pre-Civil Rights South) and this artwork have me very excited about this work. Plus, both creators are Hellblazer vets, so they can’t be that bad, right? Here’s Vertigo’s official write-up:
Writer Mat Johnson (HELLBLAZER: PAPA MIDNITE), winner of the prestigious Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction, constructs a fearless graphic novel that is both a page-turning mystery and a disturbing exploration of race and self-image in America, masterfully illustrated with rich period detail by Wareen Pleece (THE INVISIBLES, HELLBLAZER).

In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could "pass" among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going "incognegro."

Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based “New Holland Herald” barely escapes with his life after his latest "incognegro" story goes bad. But when he returns to the sanctuary of Harlem, he's 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. He finds that the answers are buried beneath layers of shifting identities, forbidden passions and secrets that run far deeper than skin color.

Vertigo | 136pg. | B&W | Hardcover | $19.99 US | Mature Readers

On Sale February 6, 2008








Wow! This realistic artwork will surely cause some readers to squirm when they read Incognegro. Don’t think so? Do you want to see a different preview spotlighted here? Shoot me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do. Plus, the Vertigo Power Rankings are only two short weeks away, so send me your thoughts on your favorite or least favorite Vertigo titles. This week there are five new Vertigo issues on the shelves, so I’m expecting every reader to pick up all five and tell me what you think. That’s right: You’ve been issued a homework assignment. Heck, I might even test you, so, as the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared.”

Thanks for reading,
Robert

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