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Mat Johnson (August 19, 1970 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American writer who works both in prose and comics. In 2007, he became the first American recipient of the James Baldwin Scholarship, awarded by the United States Artists Foundation.
Mat Johnson was born and raised in the communities of Germantown and Mount Airy, in Philadelphia. His mother is African-American and his father is Irish Catholic, studied at Greene Street Friends School, West Chester University, University of Wales, Swansea, and finally received his Bachelor’s Degree from Earlham College. In 1993, he was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Scholarship. Johnson received a master’s degree in art from the Columbia University School of the Arts (1999).
Johnson has taught classes at Rutgers University, Columbia University, Bard College, and writers’ conferences at The Callaloo Journal. He is currently a senior lecturer in the creative writing team at the University of Houston. Johnson lives in Houston.
Johnson’s first novel, Drop (Bloomsbury, 2000), was about a Philadelphia native who hates himself and thinks he has found a way out when he gets a job at an advertising agency in Brixton, London. The novel was selected by Barnes & amp; Noble as the work of a great new writer; Interview magazine named Johnson an “emerging writer,” and Drop was included among the best novels of the year by Progressive Magazine.
In 2003, Johnson published Hunting in Harlem (Bloomsbury, 2003), a satire on gentrification in Harlem and an investigation of faith, as opposed to fanaticism. Hunting in Harlem won the Zora Neale Hurston / Richard Wright Legacy Award for the Novel of the Year.
Johnson made his first collaboration in the world of comics with the publication of the five-issue miniseries Hellblazer Special: Papa Midnite (Vertigo, 2005), where he narrated, with drawings by Tony Akins, the origin of Pope Midnight, a character previously existing in the mythology surrounding John Constantine. The comic took place in the Manhattan of the eighteenth century, and was based on the research that Johnson was doing for his first historical novel, The Great Black Plot (Bloomsbury). The Great Black Plot is a non-fiction work that tells the slave uprising that took place in New York in 1741 and the resulting judgments and hysteria.
In February 2008, Vertigo Comics published the graphic novel, written by Johnson, Incognegro, a mystery of a black series about the disappearance of the American South. The work had illustrations by the British cartoonist Warren Pleece, with the cover of Stephen John Phillips.
From 2006 to 2007, Johnson wrote the blog Niggerati Manor, in which he discusses African-American culture and literature.
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