In late 2016, Marvel Studios asked Jesse Holland to re-tell the story of one of our nation’s most recognizable Black superheroes, the Black Panther. He happily obliged, and now this Bowie resident is making a household name for himself and bringing a little Hollywood to the DMV area.
It didn’t take long for Holland to agree to write the “The Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther” for Marvel. Nor did it take much time for him to write it.
The writing process was a little over a year, to be exact—no surprise from a self-proclaimed “comic book guy” with a passion for writing and history.
Holland attributes his literary love to his mother. In fact, she was his English teacher for two years in 7th and 8th grade. Holland’s father also helped him become the writer he is today.
“My dad started buying me comic books when I was really young, and I just never let them go,” Holland told the AFRO in a Jan. 28 interview. “I read The Avengers, Batman, Superman, the Justice League…anything I could get my hands on. I also read Terry Brooks fantasy novels.”
Today, Holland stresses the importance of books as a professor in Goucher College’s graduate Nonfiction program and in conversations with students nationwide.
”Any reading is good reading,” said Holland. “When someone enjoys doing it you should encourage it. You can tell stories through comic books just as well as you can literature.”
Unlike the “Black Panther” movie, Holland’s novel offers readers in-depth insight into the Black Panther characters, why they are important, and who they are.
“I most identify with Shuri, the Black Panther’s sister,” Holland said. “Imagine you have an older sibling that has a great destiny…but you are the little sister, what is your destiny? How can you stand out? That’s what I love about her. She’s able to stand on her own as a powerful Black woman.”
The strength of the African-American community can be seen throughout the movie and in Holland’s book. To the author, the story of Black Panther isn’t just about entertainment—it can provide hope and, in a way, aspiration.
“It’s always great to see a reflection of what you can be on the screen,” said Holland. “Instead of tearing on somebody else, we are now turning on something that our children can aspire to, something that looks like you…and to me, that’s the strength of the character.”
“Black Panther” opened in theatres nationwide on Feb. 16.