Skip to main content

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Superman and Compensation for Comics Creators

Coates is wrapping his 6 year run on Black Panther.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Acclaimed author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is bringing his 6 year run writing Black Panther to an end. His final issue, Black Panther #25, with art by Daniel Acuña and Brian Stelfreeze, will wrap up with an epic battle that sees Symbiote-bonded Emperor N’Jadaka versus King T’Challa, the Wakandans, and nearly every Black superhero in the Marvel Universe. Coates discussed wrapping Black Panther with journalist and fellow Black Panther author Evan Narcisse in a new interview with Polygon.

In the extensive interview, Coates discussed compensation for comics writers, who have largely been shut out from the massive profits made by the Marvel cinematic universe. Coates touched on writer Ed Brubaker’s recent interviews, where the author shared that he made more money from his cameo performance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier than for his creation of the Winter Soldier character itself.

Coates said, “I’m not talking about myself here, because I feel like I’m somebody who is fortunate in the sense that I’ve been able to make a living in all kinds of other ways. But there are people who make their living off of comic books. And I wish that Marvel found better ways to compensate the creators who helped make Black Panther Black Panther. I wish that they found better ways to compensate the folks who made Captain America Captain America.”

He continued, “I’m talking very specifically here, I wish they found ways to compensate the author of the greatest Winter Soldier stories that you’re ever going to read. I don’t love that there’s a Falcon and Winter Soldier show on TV and I’m hearing from Ed [Brubaker] that he can’t even get in contact with … I just don’t love that. I don’t love that … The corporate side of this, though … the corporate side of this is not pretty. It’s not pretty at all. How you treat people who create the basis for this, I don’t love it.”

Coates summed it up by saying, “I don’t know what the relationship will be like in the future, but as a creator, you think about that. You think about how people treat other people. You think about how corporations treat other people. And I just don’t love it, dude.”

While Coates’ tenure on Black Panther is ending, he is moving on to his highest profile work to date: a Black Superman movie for Warner Bros. and DC. But Coates, who is well aware of the relentless coverage of superhero vehicles, is keeping his cards close to his chest.

He said, “Nothing I can say would be helpful here. Absolutely nothing. Nothing I can say will do anything to improve how this film is ultimately received. I got a big thing: I want people to have their own experience with the art, and I don’t want to step on it. I don’t want them to hear me. I don’t want them to see me. As much as possible, I really don’t want them to see me. I want them to see what we ultimately produce. And so what I’m trying to do is … I’m not even being coy here.

We live in an era where people — because you have social media and can share so much — the instinct when you’re creating is to let fans in on the process, to let them see where you’re going. And I might could do that after. That might be an aftermath thing I would do, but I do worry about doing injustice to the art.”

The interview is well worth reading in its entirety, especially for Black Panther fans. What did you think of Coates’ Black Panther run? Are you excited to see what he has in store for Superman? Let us know in the comments.

(via Polygon, image: via Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Gordon Parks Foundation)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.