MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Before seeing the critically acclaimed Black Panther, which hits movie theaters this weekend, it might be a good idea to read the complimentary book about the movie characters, written by Mid-South native Jesse Holland.
In Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther, Holland gave readers background on "T'Challa", the original Black Panther and takes us to his kingdom, the fictional Wakanda.
Holland, 46, was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and spent some of his early years in Memphis.
As a child, he wrote his own comics and was a huge fan of the Marvel Comics character Black Panther.
“I actually grew up in Orange Mound," Holland said. "I started school at Handley and Sea Isle. My dad taught at Melrose High School and Trezvant."
This is not Holland's first novel about a major motion picture character. He was also commissioned by Disney Lucasfilm Press to chronicle the history of the Star Wars franchise's newest black hero, Finn, in the young adult novel Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Finn's Story.
When Marvel called him about the Black Panther project in 2016, he jumped at the opportunity. "In fact, when Marvel asked me if I needed them to send me some comic books to explain the origins of the Panther, I said, you know what, don't bother because they're already all in my basement," he said.
"So, I didn't even need the research material, I was already familiar with the character."
As for Black Panther, the movie, Holland said reading his book will enhance the experience of seeing the movie. But each stand alone. He saw a special screening of the movie in New York City Monday.
"The movie is fabulous. I actually plan to see it three more times before the end of this week, so that tells you how good I think it is."
Holland, an Ole Miss grad, is a Race & Ethnicity writer for The Associated Press and teaches creative nonfiction in the Masters of Fine Art in Creative Nonfiction program at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.
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