Eric Velasquez: What the "Black Panther" comics meant to me

Award-winning author and illustrator Eric Velasquez talks about how the "Black Panther" comics got him reading and also gave him an opportunity to see himself. You can see the full interview with Eric in our Meet the Author section.


Black Panther is a member of the Avengers going back to the 1960s, and I still have the comic books somewhere behind me here that were given to me by my Uncle Louie. And I knew from back then his importance and the great T'Challa and all this, and the artwork by Billy Graham was so beautiful that it invited you to read the story. You had to actually be a reader, you know, had to read comic books to know about the Black Panther. So it was kind of a secret society that understood the Black Panther and the fact that he was a core member of The Avengers.

But Marvel Comics, the words were pretty complex, so you really needed a dictionary at times. But yeah, the Black Panther was very special. The notion that when he took off his mask, he looked like me, was an incredible feeling and validating as well. It also gave me a sense that I too can belong. I think psychologically coming from Group C, there's a tendency to feel as though you are not going to be part of the mainframe of society. The thing about that is that once you're validated, I didn't feel that I was constantly searching, let's say, for that representation everywhere. I mean, once I had it, I was set, and I kind of could venture into the world with that sense of security.