I attended a reading by Mat Johnson on April 5th for the Agnes Scott Annual writer’s festival.
Honestly, I was not expecting to see such, what I would consider, a well rounded author. I had read one of his graphic novels, Dark Rain, and knew he had a focus on minority characters. In his readings, he briefly took questions and I was hesitant to ask him how his experience as a man has influenced his work on female characters. I had read Dark Rain so long ago, I forgot about the female character’s treatment. But thus is the curse of an Agnes education.
I wondered, does his depiction/narration of his characters change drastically from novel to comic? Is there a disconnect between the two processes? or is it as simple as adding pictures to text?
I looked up Mat before his talk, just to get a feel of his other work, and it reads as follows:
Mat Johnson is the author of the novels Loving Day, Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the comic books Incognegro and Dark Rain. He is a recipient of the American Book Award, the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature.
Mat Johnson is a Professor at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
So he’s also in academia, which makes him more “legit” to me in some reason. It reassures me that his ideas about representation are more researched. I know that’s biased, but my history of reading mainly science fiction novels has made me jaded. I’m pleased to say he lived up to the expectation. Normally during readings, I expect to fall asleep or zone out. But he had my rapt attention; there is a clear care for his stories. So much so that I went out to get his book Loving Day. Being mixed, I identify so much with his candor towards black community. I’m glad to have met him.