On the heels of his appearance in Civil War, the Black Panther is having a banner year in 2016. The Wakandan King has found a whole new audience thanks to boffo box office and clever marketing that has put the Black Panther in every Disney Store in America! That's right, the Marvel Select Black Panther figure is now available in-store and online.
Rather than do a straight-up review of the new figure, AFJ was lucky enough to sit down with the prolific sculptor, Jean St. Jean, who just happens to be the artist behind the new Black Panther figure (and the forthcoming Avenging Captain America review). According to JSJ, "Black Panther was one of the few Marvel books I read as a kid so I wanted to capture the feel of that '70's classic Panther I grew up with. The focus had to be on giving him a sleek powerful build with a hint of a feline quality since the costume has very little detail other than the lines in the gloves and boots. And then I wanted to have a suggestion of a grimace beneath the mask so it felt like fabric pulled over his face."
This declaration opened up the floodgates for what I wanted to ask Jean about in sculpting this new figure. While it is not the Black Panther that we see in the Civil War film, it is a throwback to the debut of the character that St. Jean embraced fully going to town on the minimalism of the character's design. With its tree and nature-like base, Jean hedged his bets on the less is more design and the piece became a sleeper hit among Junkies. Here are the questions I shot at JSJ and his in-depth responses.
1. AFJ's favorite Wakandan has been impossible to find in the MARVEL LEGENDS line, you and DST have provided us with a really exceptional alternative. What has the feedback been about MARVEL's hot new property that is the BLACK PANTHER?
JSJ: The response has been really great. I wanted to do a completely retro ‘70’s style Panther and I was wondering how people would respond to that simplest of costume versions but people seem to love it.
2. I can see a lot of Custom figure makers adding some of the CIVIL WAR movie extras onto this piece because it is just ripe because of the clean lines and simplicity of the figure. The facial sculpt in particular was one of my favorite attributes of this piece. BP is lithe and wiry, like a middleweight boxer but maintains his superhero cred with a really formidable sculpt. Did you want to give him more of an "edge" to the character that is now quickly shooting to the top of the A-List?
JSJ: As with all my Marvel Select work, I like to take the comic heroes and pull them into reality without changing them, which means adding seam lines into the costume and proper wrinkles where appropriate. Panther requires some subtly though because his costume is very simple so I needed to convey his power through the anatomy and the suggestion of his grimace under the mask.
3. I particularly loved the gauntlets and hands, which look ready to burst out claws. There are vertical lines on both the hands and boots. It is subtle but really looks cool under the thorough examination of the figure. What is your favorite part of BLACK PANTHER as a sculptor?
JSJ: Yeah, the boot and glove lines are the only real noticeable texture in the comics so I wanted to carve them in rather than have them painted as on other BP toy releases. I also added a subtle texture to the overall body suit to contrast and catch the light a bit when we added the dark blue overspray, to give it that “comic book” black look.
4. It’s starting to seem like you have a new piece released every few weeks! So where can Junkies go to see more of your in the works projects?
JSJ: I sculpt non-stop year round and try to fit in as much variety as possible to keep it interesting. I’m pretty much splitting my time between Marvel figures and statues and Batman ’66 busts and banks, and trying to find time to develop the next Creatureplica series!
To see more of my sculpture you can go to Deviant art at:
or any of my Facebook pages: