With Black Panther finally showing his face in Captain America: Civil War marketing material, Black Panther's comic book writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is pulling back the curtain on his and Brian Stelfreeze's upcoming 12-part series -- including concept art.
“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,” Coates said in an editorial on The Atlantic. “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.”
Coates went on to explain his process for writing Black Panther.
“1.) Read a ton of back issues and try to think about what I find interesting (Ramonda) and what I find less interessting (M’Baku.) 2.) Get a detailed outline done of all the issues I was contracted to write. 3.) Write those scripts early in order to give Brian, and my editors, a chance to tell me what I am doing wrong. 4.) Revise the outline regularly, as events (and finished scripts) dictate a need to change. That has been the plan. Having a plan doesn’t guarantee success. But not having a plan probably guarantees failure.”
Coates heavily plays up how big a role Stelfreeze plays in the series' plans, beyond just illustrating his scripts.
“One thing I did not count on was the extent to which the art would shape the story. Brian’s thoughts on T’Challa, and his supporting cast, have been invaluable. You can see the fruits of collaboration in the images [seen here]. "
Stelfreeze even helped define some new ablities for Black Panther.
"After talking back and forth we came up with some new ideas for how T’Challa’s famed Vibranium-weave suit might work," explained Coates. "In this case, absorbing kinetic energy and allowing him to fire that energy back out in short energy bursts. 'Energy bursts' almost gets it wrong—think 'force-push' not 'optic blast.' All the old powers are there—enhanced senses, agility, peak-human strength, etc. But this idea (and others) really came out of Brian’s thoughts—not just on the suit—but on the properties of Vibranium itself.”
Black Panther #1 hits shelves in early 2016.