In September, it was announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates will be penning a Black Panther comic book issue for Marvel – news that was met with much excitement from fans of the superhero, fans of Coates (even if they weren’t fans of Black Panther), and really just about everybody else it seemed. It was the kind of announcement that was almost universally welcomed, and I assume many are thus looking forward to seeing what Coates brings to the comic book franchise.
You’ll be tickled to learn that, today, in a piece on The Atlantic titled “Conceptualizing the Black Panther,” Coates shares his early ideas for the upcoming comic, including a look at illustrator Brian Stelfreeze’s art for the series, which I embedded below.
It’s a short post on The Atlantic, in which Coates discusses his process in writing comics generally, and Black Panther specifically. Here’s a little bit of it: “A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be contracted to work on Marvel’s Black Panther. I didn’t want to say too much before I got started, but now, with a few scripts in, having gotten comfortable with my editors, and having been blown away by Brian Stelfreeze’s art… I’m feeling a little better. With that in mind, my hope is, from time to time, to update you guys on the process of making the thing. I guess I should start by saying I’ve never done this before. I expect that there will be stumbles and screw-ups on my part. My nightmare basically involves this turning into some sort of stunt or vanity project. I did not take this on to look pretty, or add a line to my CV. I took it on for the same reason I take on new stories—to grow intellectually and artistically. In this case it’s another genre—fictional, serial story-telling—one a good distance away from journalism, memoir, and essays. Still I find myself falling back on old principles. I’m a writer who really values organization. I value it even more when saddled with the relatively high probability of failure. In that regard, my basic approach has been as follows:”
Read his “basic approach” on The Atlantic website here, and, below, check out some of the concept art he mentions. By the way, Brian Stelfreeze is an African American artist for those who don’t know. To be titled “A Nation Under Our Feet,” with a story by Coates and drawn by Brian Stelfreeze, the series will find Black Panther dealing with a violent uprising in his country set off by a superhuman terrorist group called the People.
Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel, says: “It’s going to be a story that repositions the Black Panther in the minds of readers… It really moves him forward.”
Coates’ Black Panther series reign will begin next spring. Comic book geeks, feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what you read and see here: