If you are at all tapped into the literary world, then you have definitely heard Ta-Nehisi Coates’s name mentioned more than a few times. He received the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction as well as the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for Between the World and Me, which was also a best-seller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. He is also a distinguished national correspondent for The Atlantic. But Coates’s talent extends beyond non-fiction and journalism to the world of… comics!
The Black Panther first appeared in 1966 as a character in an issue of the Fantastic Four. In 2015, Marvel gave Coates the opportunity to revive the Black Panther, “the first black superhero in mainstream American comics.” This April, the first of Marvels 11-issue Black Panther series came out and, according to Vulture, was the top-selling comic of April as well as the year thus far. The estimated sales of the first issue for April was 235,259 for North American retailers alone, putting it nearly 80,000 sales higher than the second highest seller. While this statistic is based on how many issues retailers ordered, rather than purchased copies, Vulture points out that “it’s generally a good indicator of interest in a comic.”
The Black Panther, as he appeared in 1976. Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1W0nF2g.
In his article about his excitement for and the challenges of writing the comic (which is definitely worth reading), Coates discussed the influences of other comics and his hopes for the series: “Chris Claremont’s The Uncanny X-Men wasn’t just about an ultracool band of rebels. That series sought to grapple with the role of minorities in society-both the inner power and the outward persecution that comes with that status. And so it is (I hope) with Black Panther.”
Coates has previously discussed the importance of comics in culture and society, especially in regards to displaying diversity, in an interview with Vulture. Comic book lovers have seen in increase in inclusive and diverse superheroes, such as PakistaniAmerican Kamala Khan or Ms.Marvel, which we will love to see continue. Based on his history of writing poignant and powerful stories of race relations and injustice in the United States, Coates should have no problem producing a socially affecting comic-series.
Featured image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1WCPKfP.