Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekend Semi-open Thread: Ta-Nehisi Coates and the "Black Panther" Comic Book

Ta-Nehisi Coates will bring new readers to comic books. Where do you think they should begin?

As is our habit, please do consider this a semi-open weekend thread.

Last evening, I saw the new film Sicario. It is excellent. Sicario makes the audience complicit with the violence that is depicted in the film. We are all culpable. Like the under appreciated film The Counselor, Sicario is indifferent to the audience's pleasure or approval. For that reason it transcends being a mere "movie" and is more properly described as a "film". Do seek it out if you have the opportunity.

You likely read elsewhere that The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates is going to be writing a run of Marvel's comic book Black Panther. Coates keeps on winning. I envy him. I will continue to throw out my wish to the universe to write a run of The Punisher (and on that point yes, my first graphic novel project is still in the works. A Kickstarter will appear at some point in the near future).

I want Coates to succeed. I worry that, like others before him who lacked a background in creative writing and the graphic novel form, Coates may fail. But then again, there are lots of folks with tons of experience in graphic novels and comic books who routinely produce hot garbage and are compensated quite nicely for doing so.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most high profile public intellectuals in recent memory (omitting the novelty of a black person in that role) to ever be given a shot at writing a comic for D.C. or Marvel. Coates is going to bring lots of new eyes and readers to the genre (which had to be part of Marvel's decision-making process).

Thus some questions.

1. What pitfalls and traps does Coates need to avoid in writing his Black Panther story? What are some common errors that you have seen when writers try to work in a new storytelling form? Has Coates ever written fiction at a professional level?

(Coates has already given a wink and Easter egg of his intellectual bonafides and creative inclinations by naming the story after historian Stephen Hahn's book on the Black Freedom Struggle.)

2. For those people who may start reading comic books because the hobby is made legitimate and new to them by Coates doing Black Panther, do you have any suggestions for where they should start? Go next after reading Coates' take on Black Panther?

At present I am reading Southern Bastards, American Vampire, Elephantmen, Saga, Manifest Destiny, some of the new Star Wars titles, and (still) The Walking Dead. I want to start reading Ms. Marvel, Midnighter, Bitch Planet, and Astro City.

What are you reading?

And of course, do you have any matters of concern, public or private, that you would like to share?

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