Austin writer Evan Narcisse helping to shape ‘Black Panther’ story arc with new 6-issue prequel series

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Journalist Evan Narcisse has spent much of his career writing about the comic book industry. These days, he’s writing one with alongside National Book Award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The six-issue comic book series will feature a personal favorite from the Marvel Comics universe, The Black Panther.

Based in Northwest Austin by way of New York City, Narcisse is co-writer of the “The Rise of The Black Panther” series, which just saw Issue No. 2—subtitled “Monarch Meets Monarch”—hit the racks in comics shops across the U.S. on Feb. 7, according to Marvel’s website. The prequel series is timed to coincide with the Feb. 16 release of Marvel’s “Black Panther” film, starring Chadwick Boseman in the title role.

To promote the release of Issue No. 2, Narcisse will sign copies of his comics from 8 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at a “Black Panther 101” event at Dragon’s Lair, 2438 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. B1, Austin. In addition,

Narcisse will also sign comics from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, during festivities for the advance movie screenings of “Black Panther” at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Mueller, located at 1911 Aldrich St., Ste. 120, Austin.

Narcisse said in an interview via Skype that “Rise of the Black Panther” provides insight into the character’s origins as Prince T’Challa first ascends to power as ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Marvel ‘s Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created The Black Panther in the mid-‘60s, he added.

“The character was first introduced in 1966 in a ‘Fantastic Four’ comic—he was kind of a villain. He lured the Fantastic Four to the fictional country of Wakanda, fought them and nearly defeated them,” Narcisse said, referring to T’Challa, also known as The Black Panther. “And then it was revealed that he did that because he was testing himself to try and fight the man who killed his father.”

Narcisse also noted that The Black Panther was a member of The Avengers and was featured in a key subplot in the 2016 film, “Captain America: Civil War.”

“It was kind of a shorter story arc initially when the character appeared but over the years, the history of his lineage—of his family lineage of kings and queens—got built out. And the history of Wakanda got built out as well,” he said.

Narcisse first became involved with The Black Panther after a series of interviews he conducted with Coates regarding his work as a writer for “The Black Panther.” Narcisse said Marvel editor Will Moss read the interviews and asked Coates to find out if Narcisse would be interested in writing for a “Black Panther” project.

“Some conversations with Will followed and after hashing out—you know—what the possibilities were, we settled on the ideas that became the plot for ‘Rise of the Black Panther,’” he said.

A longtime fan, but a first time comic book writer, Narcisse said one of the more significant challenges he faced was developing a sense of what would fit on the page after the art was placed.

“The thing about comics as a form of storytelling is that they freeze a moment in time and you have to think visually,” Narcisse said.

Narcisse said the series, which releases a new issue monthly through June, explores T’Challa’s first year as king of Wakanda.

“We see the death of his father in the first issue and from the second issue on, we see him come to the decision to reveal Wakanda to the world,” he said. “Wakanda has been hidden from the world for centuries; they’ve kept themselves secret and they’ve kept themselves unconquered and uncolonized for centuries.”

Narcisse said he hopes his series will help to grow the character’s considerable fan base one new reader at a time.

“I want to inspire readers to love the world of The Black Panther as much as I do,” he said. “I think he’s a unique character that serves as a powerful symbol of black excellence in a world that seeks to diminish that.”

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In communications since 1999. Written bits about bands and ideas since 1988.
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