1

What was the inspiration behind the creation of T'Challa the Black Panther? what influenced Stan Lee and Jack Kirby when they came up the character?

1 Answer 1

2

Possibly unsurprisingly, given Stan Lee's history of promotion occasionally trumping truth, it's disputed.

The origin of the idea for the character was disputed by both Kirby and Lee. Jack Kirby claimed sole credit for the creation of the character in The Comics Journal #134, from February 1990, stating that a realization that there were no black characters in his comics demanded some be added for "human reasons". Stan Lee claims the character was created by his desire in the mid-60s to include more African and African-American characters in Marvel Comics. While there is no documentation showing which version of the creation is closer to the truth, by 1966 Kirby is thought to have been largely plotting the book on his own and was having to explain the stories to Lee when the pages arrived in the Marvel offices, as had happened a few issues prior with the Silver Surfer in The Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966). In a 1968 interview Lee stated:

Some artists, such as Jack Kirby, need no plot at all. I mean I’ll just say to Jack, ‘Let’s let the next villain be Dr. Doom’… or I may not even say that. He may tell me. And then he goes home and does it. He’s so good at plots, I’m sure he’s a thousand times better than I. He just about makes up the plots for these stories. All I do is a little editing.

In an interview, Kirby shared the same genesis as Lee, "I came up with the Black Panther because I realized I had no blacks in my strip. I’d never drawn a black. I needed a black. I suddenly discovered that I had a lot of black readers. My first friend was a black! And here I was ignoring them because I was associating with everybody else."

Roy Thomas has made claims that support Lee's version of events, while Kirby was supported by his wife and prior artwork. In 1963, they included a black character, Gabe Jones, in the ensemble cast of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, and Lee encouraged artists to include black characters in crowd scenes. In a 1998 interview, Lee explained his motivation: "I wasn't thinking of civil rights. I had a lot of friends who were black and we had artists who were black. So it occurred to me... why aren't there any black heroes?" Soon after Black Panther was introduced, Marvel also added two more recurring black characters: Jill Jerrold in Modeling with Millie, and Bill Foster in The Avengers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.