Brian Stel­freeze

The Shadow Of The Bat/Day Men artist tells Stephen Jewell about col­lab­o­rat­ing with At­lantic writer and Be­tween The World And Me au­thor Ta-Ne­hisi Coates on Mar­vel’s new Black Pan­ther monthly

Comic Heroes - - CONTENTS -

Black Pan­ther’s artist ex­traor­di­naire on T’Challa’s new ad­ven­tures.

Comic Heroes: What are your ear­li­est mem­o­ries of the Black Pan­ther?

Brian Stel­freeze: It would have been read­ing Jack Kirby

Fan­tas­tic Four is­sues. But I re­ally wasn’t a fan of Jack’s work when I was a kid, so it didn’t leave much of an im­pres­sion, so it would have been Neal Adams and John Buscema (on Avengers and Black Pan­ther’s 1970s solo ti­tle Jun­gle

Ac­tion re­spec­tively) who re­ally started to make me pay at­ten­tion to the char­ac­ter.

CH: How did you first come to team up with Ta-Ne­hisi Coates on the new Black Pan­ther

se­ries?

BS: For me, it was all about Mar­vel edi­tor-in-chief Axel Alonso and edi­tor Wil­son Moss. Wil and I worked to­gether a few years ago on an is­sue of Jonah Hex at DC and we’ve had

a great

re­la­tion­ship ever since. He was very cagey about get­ting me to agree to the project be­fore re­veal­ing the writer’s name. I agreed on the blind be­cause I trusted him, but I did men­tion we should con­sider Ta-Ne­hisi for a fill-in is­sue! Wil got sus­pi­ciously quiet when I men­tioned that re­quest…

CH: What’s it like work­ing with Ta-Ne­hisi? Has he taken quickly to the comic book medium?

BS: I was con­sid­er­ably ner­vous at first. Comics re­quires a strange set of dis­ci­plines from both writ­ers and artists, so both new writ­ers and other peo­ple com­ing in from other me­dia tend to miss the mark and make it all about the di­a­logue. The most dif­fi­cult thing to un­der­stand is that the sto­ry­telling takes prece­dence over both the writ­ing and the art. But Ta-Ne­hisi en­tered the process of col­lab­o­ra­tion with no ego and mag­nif­i­cent ideas. He is such an easy guy to work with and we’ve quickly got to the hive mind stage, so now we both just do our best to sur­prise each other.

CH: Black Pan­ther is be­ing re­leased un­der the “All-New, All-Dif­fer­ent” Mar­vel ban­ner, which is at­tempt­ing to present a more di­verse range of char­ac­ters, done by a more di­verse range of

cre­ators. Is that some­thing that is im­por­tant to you?

BS: Ab­so­lutely. It’s funny, but I think all cre­ators have the abil­ity to pull from their per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences, and then project and ex­pand those ex­pe­ri­ences to fit any char­ac­ter. We can use our per­sonal sense of so­cial iso­la­tion for a Spi­der-Man story, or our own sense of in­jus­tice writ large to tell a Bat­man story. I think per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences are univer­sal to a cer­tain ex­tent and if you’re cre­ative you can tell the story. But I also be­lieve some­thing unique comes from putting di­verse peo­ple on di­verse char­ac­ters. We can put less en­ergy into be­ing cre­ative and more into just telling the truth.

CH: Wakanda is a big part of the new se­ries. Have you taken a par­tic­u­lar ap­proach to il­lus­trat­ing its dis­tinc­tive ge­og­ra­phy, cloth­ing and ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy?

BS: I went to Ja­pan a while back and I was struck by the fact of within this high-tech city you still had some peo­ple walk­ing around in ki­monos and tra­di­tional cloth­ing. I wanted Wakanda to feel some­thing like that, but at the same time I didn’t think the tech should be too ob­tru­sive. Wakanda’s tech­nol­ogy is a lit­tle more or­ganic in the se­ries and I thought it would be a good

This page: The su­per­hero is at the fore­front of Mar­vel’s ex­cit­ing All-New, Al­lDif­fer­ent ban­ner.

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