4
| Comics |

R. Alan Brooks Talks Black Panther and Afrofuturism

T'Challa/Black Panther, King of Wakanda, along with Nakia (left) and Okoye (right).
T'Challa/Black Panther, King of Wakanda, along with Nakia (left) and Okoye (right).
^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Anyone who’s paid the slightest bit of attention to superhero movies over the past decade knows there hasn’t been a wildfire of excitement quite like that sparked by director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. And it’s fair to say that the reason for that is because there’s never been a movie — superhero or otherwise — quite like Black Panther, a vibrant, melanin-infused cocktail of superhero fantasy, black cinema, social commentary, action and Afrofuturism.

Local comic-book writer of The Burning Metronome, podcast host and musician R. Alan Brooks was first introduced to Black Panther in the ’80s, when, as a boy, he played with action figures of Sun-Man, an equally muscle-bound black alternative to the golden-haired He-Man.

Brooks notes that back then, the character T’Challa wasn’t “well-defined, but had a lot of potential.” It wasn’t until the ’90s, with comic-book writer Christopher Priest and in the early aughts, with Reginald Hudlin, that the King of Wakanda found his stride.

R. Alan Brooks in his element.
R. Alan Brooks in his element.

“It’s unheard of,” Brooks says about the release of Black Panther. “You’re compelled by the character. He’s intelligent, well-developed, powerful, unapologetically black. Usually, the only black images you see in the media are presented by non-black people. There’s a fascination with black violence.”

It’s Brooks’s hope that audiences will “recognize what it means to have a fully developed black character, that movie creators no longer feel they need a reason to have an all-black cast.”

Brooks wants to see Black Panther churn up interest in Afrofuturism, a multimedia genre that explores sci-fi and fantasy stories driven by black experience — a genre absent from most movies, books, TV shows and the like, where black characters are too often relegated to be sidekicks — and often not even that.

If the Friday release of Black Panther captures the public's imagination, as Brooks hopes, the result will be simple: “Black narratives will be seen as human narratives. Bam!"

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.