Brian Stelfreeze on Illustrating the New Black Panther Series & Working with Ta-Nehisi Coates
The new Black Panther comic book series at Marvel, featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates as the writer and Brian Stelfreeze as the illustrator, will be the first time in a little while that a high-profile character will be penned by two creators of color — and it’s for Black Panther, one of the first black superhero characters ever. Newsarama spoke to Stelfreeze about that, as well as his experience working with Coates and the pair’s plans for the series.
Here’s what Stelfreeze had to say about how his own identity relates to his experience with illustrating this series:
I think to a certain extent it’s massively important and to another extent, it’s not important at all. I kind of jump back and forth on that. The nice thing about it is that because of who I am and how I grew up and everything, I think that’s going to give me information on the character that’s going to make me able to approach the character in a different way. At the same time, as a creator, I try my best to be invisible.
Stelfreeze also described his own aesthetic vision for Wakanda:
I’m designing Wakanda with a different eye towards technology. I’m thinking of technology in a different way. I don’t want Wakanda to be Silicon Valley or Dubai, or anything like that. What I want to do is show Wakanda as having technology that was created in a completely different way than technology that we know.
As for Coates’ script, here’s some more hints about what’s to come, in Stelfreeze’s words:
The thing that got me really excited about it was, when I read it, it wasn’t a superhero script. It wasn’t a bang zoom some guys are robbing a bank and Black Panther is going to jump in and stop them kinda story … Ta-Nehisi’s script goes in a different direction and really explores what is this guy about. What would Wakanda be like if it was a real thing.
… Ta-Nehisi and I, we’re kinda approaching everything very respectfully. We want to make things very believable and want this to be a book that someone who has never read Black Panther before can pick up and really enjoy this. At the same time, we’re both fans, so we’re doing something that if you’re a Black Panther fan, you’ll get a nice bit of Easter eggs for you, but this is still something different. I personally think that the Black Panther is a character that is really underdeveloped, so we’re sort of taking the opportunity that Marvel is giving us to do something with him.
Are you a newcomer, or a lifelong Black Panther fan? Are you planning to add this series to your reading list in 2016?
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