EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Black Panther: The Man Without Fear Writer, David Liss!

Hit the jump to read this in-depth and fascinating interview with the Edgar Award winning writer about his work on the hit series, hints at what to expect in future, his thoughts on upcoming comic book movies and much more...

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By Josh Wilding - 1/17/2011
David Liss is an American writer of novels, essays and short fiction; more recently working also in comic books. He was born in New Jersey and grew up in South Florida. Liss received his B. A. degree from Syracuse University, an M. A. from Georgia State University and his M. Phil from Columbia University. He left his post-graduate studies of 18th Century British literature and unfinished dissertation to write full-time. "If things had not worked out with fiction, I probably would have kept to my graduate school career track and sought a job as a literature professor," he said. Now a full-time writer, Liss lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and children.

Most of Liss' novels to date are historical-mystery (or historical-thriller) novels. Settings include 18th century London and America, and 17th century Amsterdam. One novel, The Ethical Assassin, is a contemporary mystery-thriller. His first book, A Conspiracy of Paper (2000), won the 2001 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

Despite being busy writing the hit new series Black Panther: Man Without Fear, the best selling author was kind enough to spare some of his time to talk to me about his work on the series that sees the former King of Wakanda filling in for Daredevil on the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen! To find out more about David and his work, be sure to check out his website by clicking HERE. Thanks again to him and Bill Rosemann for the preview art of #515 included below, and be sure to share your thoughts on this in the usual place!

As a writer best known for historical fiction novels, what was it that made you decide to start writing comic books, and Black Panther in particular?

The answer is the same in both cases. Marvel approached me. Bill Rosemann, the editor of both my first comic book (Daring Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special) and Black Panther, had read some of my fiction and thought I might be interested in writing comics. I’m a lifelong fan of comics, so I was thrilled to be asked, and very happy to be offered these projects.

Has the transition between the two formats been a difficult one for you to adapt to?

I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult, but there has been a learning curve. In many ways a good story will remain fairly consistent no matter what medium it is told in, but in other ways, the medium dictates the way in which that story can be told. My novels rely on a lot of dialogue and not terribly visual. Comics, of course, require relatively few words and lots of visuals. It’s been a great experience, however, learning how to tell a story in a completely new way. I’ve been having a great time doing this.

Did you feel any pressure having to write a character with so many years of history? Was a lot of research required?

Certainly there is some research, and there is a fair amount of pressure. Black Panther has a very dedicated following, and there are fans out there who measure every word to make sure it is worthy of the character they love. I think it’s great that there are people out there who are so invested in the character, and I absolutely respect their passion, but it is also a little intimidating.

There was some surprise among fans when the title and lead character changed but the series retained its original numbering. What's your take on this?

I’m a longtime Daredevil fan, so I get why some readers might have been surprised. However, Marvel has done this kind of thing before (as when Hercules took over the starring role in Incredible Hulk), I like how they put so much effort into keeping the Marvel Universe dynamic and flexible. The characters can’t remain static and keep doing the same things over and over again. Where’s the fun in that? In my view, this kind of shake-up keeps things interesting and fresh.

Will the title link up with any of the other Panther related series' or will it remain its own thing as T'Challa isolates himself in Hell's Kitchen?

I can’t talk about any plot developments that haven’t yet been announced. Let’s just say that nothing is off the table.

Do you know how long you'll be writing Black Panther in his new Hell's Kitchen surroundings?

Honestly, I have no idea. If there is a master plan for bringing Matt Murdock back to Hell’s Kitchen, no one has told me about it. Like most readers, I assume he is coming back eventually, but I don’t know when that will be. As of this moment, T’Challa in Hell’s Kitchen is the status quo.

If Daredevil does eventually return, would you like to continue writing Black Panther in his own series?

I love writing this character, so I’ll keep doing this as long as they let me.

For anyone who might not have picked up the first part, what would you like to tell them about why it's a title worth buying? And what can we expect to see in the future from it?

This a nourish, street-level title in the Daredevil tradition. The is a character driven story about tough choices and hard punches. Fancesco’s art is amazing. We are starting out with a six-issue arc in which T'Challa is both hunting (and is hunted by) a dangerous new crime lord called Vlad the Impaler, who is trying to fill the current power vacuum. There is also a related mystery element -- why is Vlad killiing off innocent men and women around Hell's Kitchen? This arc will also deal with T'Challa's transition from monarch to street vigilante. After this intial story, we are going to do some different, and very cool, stories which we have in various stages of planning. I can't say more, but I can tell you they are going to be fun for me to write.

Are there any other comic book characters you'd like the chance to write? Can we expect any more cameos in Black Panther: Man Without Fear?

There are tons of characters I'd like to write. At this point, it a question of who they will let me write. And yes, there will be other characters from the larger Marvel Universe, who will be swinging through (hint hint) this book. The longer I write this book, the more I will have a chance to play around with some of the characters that intrigue me. Luke Cage, for example, has a recurring role in the first arc, and I've really enjoyed having the chance to write him.

Should we expect to see any of Daredevil's supporting cast or enemies turn up at some point? If so, any clues as to who?

Yes, some of the Daredevil support cast will be appearing in the book, but I'm not giving anything away. I'd rather have things unfold naturally. Suffice to say I enjoy the fact that this is Daredevil's world, and I respect the integrity of the Daredevil history. I want to make sure this book earns its Man Without Fear subtitle.

There have been rumours of a Black Panther movie for a fair few years now. Any ideas on how who you think would be a good choice for the role and what direction the movie should take?

Honestly, I haven't thought about it much. I think a Black Panther movie would be a great idea, but I'm not on top of the Hollywood scene enough to make any suggestions.

2011 is crammed full of comic book movies with everyone from Captain America , Thor and Green Lantern heading to the big screen. Is there one in particular you're excited about seeing?

I will likely see all of them, but I think I am most excited for Captain America . It's one of the titles I most look forward to every month, and I am very eager to see how well it makes the translation to the big screen. Plus, I am sure many Nazis will die.

Black Panther #515 is set to be released on February 9th! Be sure to pick up this fantastic series while you still can!

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LEEE777 - 1/17/2011, 3:35 PM
Sweet... thumbs up! :)

Now we need the movie Marvel!
bleedthefreak - 1/17/2011, 3:46 PM
Great stuff @Josh, and hell yeah we do @LEEE777
Hawksblueyes - 1/17/2011, 4:01 PM
Great job Josh.
Sephiroth - 1/17/2011, 4:38 PM
Great find Josh! This was an awesome read and I'm def gonna start reading this Black Panther comic.
LEEE777 - 1/17/2011, 5:43 PM
FanBoyBlack - 1/17/2011, 6:13 PM
I thought Dare Devil was "the man without fear?"
Gunslinger - 1/17/2011, 6:33 PM
Matt Murdock is the man without fear. Matter of time until he comes back.
AverageCitizen99 - 1/17/2011, 6:42 PM
Another great job! :)
Liking that MARVEL is trying to shake things up a bit with their characters and universe. And thanks for the link to his other works!
dudebro - 1/17/2011, 10:10 PM
Interested to see how he incorporates Spidey in.
RorMachine - 1/18/2011, 4:51 AM
Great stuff Josh. I haven't read any of the Dare-Panther stuff yet. Any good?
longbowhunter - 1/18/2011, 5:32 AM
Black Panther: Man Without Fear has been the best thing to come out of Shadowland. Its a great noir story. Like the best Daredevil stories, its more of a crime comic than a superhero comic. I dig it alot! Cool interview.
ManThing - 1/18/2011, 5:46 AM
What happened to Daredevil?
JoshWilding - 1/18/2011, 6:49 AM
Thanks guys! :)

earzmundo: Ahhh...I never even thought of that mate! The benefits of hindsight, eh? Vlad is a great villain, so some more info on how he was conceived would have been great. Ah well, his hints at Spider-Man dropping by were enough to get me psyched!

ROR: When I first head about Black Panther taking over from DD, I thought it was a terrible idea...the first issue changed my mind completely! It's bloody brilliant. Very gritty and noir, and one of the most interesting takes on the character I've seen in a long time.

Juggernaut: You don't want to know mate! What they did was a good idea, but the execution was not handled well by Andy Diggle, but it would have been hard for anyone to follow up on the brilliance of Bendis and Brubaker!
ManThing - 1/18/2011, 6:59 AM
oh god this sounds bad. lol :(
Guess I better get my big ass down to the comic shop and play catch up.
goodbar00 - 1/18/2011, 11:41 AM
good stuff !
Jimdlux - 1/23/2011, 12:08 PM
Wasn't Daredevil the man without fear?

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