By Adam Karenina Sherif
At an amusing and light-hearted panel this weekend at NYCC, some of the luminaries of Marvel Knights reunited to share fond reflections and take questions, celebrating twenty years since the launch of the line which is widely credited as having revived not only a number of characters, but the publisher itself. Joe Quesada (Daredevil) led the discussion alongside Jimmy Palmiotti (Daredevil), Christopher Priest (Black Panther) and Tom Sniegoski (Punisher).
The success of the Black Panther movie was given a good deal of airtime, with Quesada keenly and rightly emphasising Priest’s significant influence on so much of the character’s world and lore – the creation of the Dora Milaje, for example. In turn, Priest acknowledged Don McGregor’s extraordinary Panther’s Rage, adding that the two sat next to one another at the film’s première and both wept. When asked about his feelings on Black Panther‘s casting, he shared an anecdote of meeting lead actor Chadwick Boseman: “On the set of Infinity War, Chadwick came over and hugged me. He reads the books. He knows it.”
When asked why Marvel Studios and the Netflix shows have become such a success at this precise cultural moment in time, Quesada quipped that “it’s taken Hollywood forty-five years to catch up to Jack Kirby‘s imagination”, and that there’s finally a greater respect for the source material. Priest added that audiences have demanded more sophisticated storytelling, and that producers and executives have had to respond.
Fielding a question about the strength of the female characters in the Marvel Knights books, Priest referred to his book as being “almost accidentally feminist” – that he and artist Mark Texeira just built women into the fabric of the book, not as an overt gesture, but because they wanted the book to be both readable and plausible. Palmiotti suggested that the Marvel Knights line as a whole emerged that way because of the explicit intention to produce more realistic comics – what Stan Lee calls “the world outside your window”. Quesada also stressed the vital importance of editor Nanci Dakesian, as well as Devin Grayson‘s under-rated work on Black Widow.
Palmiotti and Quesada waxed particularly poetic about the importance of understanding the comics as visual storytelling. Palmiotti put it that while “there’s a million artists doing pin-ups, sequentials is another art”. Quesada followed on, saying that “comics requires more than just beautiful pictures. It requires you to draw anything at a moment’s notice, yes, but it also demands an understanding of a cinematic approach – storytelling. There’s an art to this, and it’s the exact same as the great directors of cinema practice”. With a sincere humility he added that at his best he tries to get out of the way of the story, “so you almost don’t even notice I’m there telling it to you”.
Finally, speaking on the upcoming 20th anniversary six-issue mini-series, Quesada affirmed that “Donny Cates loves Marvel, loves Marvel Knights. He hassled me into doing something for the anniversary. So when Marvel decided they did want to mark it somehow, I went to Donny. I gave it to him like he was a showrunner, let him assemble his writers room and go with it”.
Marvel Knights 20th #1 is out on November 7th, written by Cates with art Travel Foreman (Animal Man).