Enlarge / In his opening soliloquy, Anansi/Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) sums up the story of black slavery in one sentence: “Once upon a time, a man got f**ked.” (credit: Starz)
American Gods‘ second episode took us to a place that the book never did: straight into the belly of the slave ship that bore the spider trickster god Anansi (Mr. Nancy) from West Africa to America. Our guest this week is Evan Narcisse, who writes for io9 and is working on a super secret comic book project for Marvel.

This is his second time on the show, and it was great to have him back and force him to tell me all about the New Gods that Jack Kirby invented for DC Comics.
In this episode, we discuss the meaning of Mr. Nancy’s incredible opening soliloquy and how slavery left its mark on American history. We agreed that Orlando Jones is pretty much on fire in this role, literally and figuratively. We talked about how this scene helped create an interesting context for the lynching in episode 1, and how slavery fits into the immigration stories of so many Americans.
I noted that Mr. Nancy’s oddly anachronistic look was part of a tradition in African-American storytelling where slavery collapses time (this is an idea I stole from Stanford literary scholar Andrew Shepherd).
This led us into musing about whether it matters that Shadow is black in the show, even though he’s racially ambiguous in the novel. (The answer: it’s complicated.)
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