[Blackstudies-l] Ta-Nehisi Coates's last endeavor

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon Apr 18 08:33:09 EDT 2016


lima at geneseo.edu sent you this article.


Democrat and Chronicle - 04/18/2016 - C05



SUPERHERO

Ta-Nehisi Coates pivots from politics to comic books

Author sees ‘Black Panther’ as platform for issues

JESSE J. HOLLAND

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - One of America’s most popular writers on race is now
concentrating on the life of the superhero king of a mythical African
country.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ lifelong love of comic books made him jump at the chance
to write Black Panther, one of the first comic book heroes of color for
Marvel. While it may seem like a diversion from his serious commentary on
race, Coates says it still allows him to talk about issues that he feels
deeply about — through a good superhero story.

“Can this promise of rights — human rights and civil rights — be expanded
equally to everybody?” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“T! hat is very much alive in Black Panther, even though it’s not a ‘race’
story. The spirit of it is very much there.”

Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine. His 2015 book
Between the World and Me won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and has
been on the New York Times’ bestseller list for 37 weeks and counting. He
also was a recipient of a McArthur Foundation “genius” grant last year.

Now living in Paris, Coates is taking on a character with a long comic book
history and a rising public profile. The Black Panther was introduced as a
supporting character in Fantastic Four in 1966, ! and will be featured in
Marvel’s

Captain America: Civil War movie in May. There is also a 2018 movie
scheduled to be helmed by Fruitvale Station and Creed director Ryan Coogler.

The Black Panther is the alter ego of T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, a
technologically advanced African country. In addition to being monarch, he
controls the country’s vibranium, a fictional metal that absorbs vibrations
and forms the bedrock of the country’s wealth and power. A longtime ally
and one-time member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, T’Challa
uses his wealth, inventions and the country’s resources to battle against
evil from both inside and outside his country’s borders while ! serving as
the head of the government.

Coates said he hopes to be part of making the Black Panther more popular in
American society.

“My job is to make people regard Wakanda and the Black Panther in the same
way that I regarded Marvel’s New York and Spider-Man when I was a kid,” he
said.

It may be on its way. Marvel took more than 300,000 pre-orders for Black
Panther #1, officials said. According to John Jackson Miller’s The Comics
Chronicles, the top selling comic book in March — Batman — sold 163,406.

Coates is writing an 11-issue run, with artist Brian Stelfreeze. It will
explore questions of morality and power, such as why such a
technologically! advanced country would even have a monarch, and whether a
good man can! be king.. When asked if there is an allegory for the current
state of politics in the United States in those questions, Coates laughed.

“That is probably for people who are interpreting it to say,” he said. “I
can paint the story, but I’ll be interested in what people draw from it.”

Some have questioned why Coates wrote a comic book instead of continuing to
focus on real-life issues of racism and violence, especially with the
issues playing such a vital role in the presidential campaign. Coates said
he considers that question an attack on art.

“In every stage in history when people make art, horrible things are
happening in the politics of the world. That’s where a lot of the art came
from,” he said. “What people are really saying is, ‘Why don’t you write
about the things I would write about? But I! don’t actually have time to
develop the chops to become the kind of person who can do journalism; I
just want you to do what I would do.’ ” Besides, Coates explained, comic
books heavily influenced his writing and are an underappreciated form of
literature.

“I think comic books function as a form of visual poetry, at least when
they’re done at a certain level,” he said.

“I know what moves me,” he added, “and comic books have always been part of
that.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates has had a lifelong love of comic books.

NINA SUBIN/MARVEL COMICS VIA AP

Coates jumped at the chance to write Marvel’s Black Panther.

MARVEL COMICS VIA AP

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