Like a lot of people, I’m looking forward to the release of Black Panther, the latest Marvel movie this Friday, February 16th. This last weekend, I had an email from my first boss when I started working in animation, Larry Houston (whom I also consider a friend). Larry was the producer/director of the original X-Men: the Animated Series (as it seems to have become known now). I did character model clean-up on the series, and a fair amount of character design too, along the way.
Larry pointed my attention to a video on YouTube someone had assembled, of Black Panther’s various animated appearances. Right up front was his cameo appearance on an episode of X-Men.
That sparked a memory. I went back to look, and sure enough: I’d had the privilege of being the one who got to draw the model for that appearance, which I’ve posted here! If I’m not mistaken, I think it might well be Black Panther’s first ever appearance in a cartoon.
I can’t take credit for the idea of putting T’Challa in there. It was Larry’s idea. Larry felt very strongly (as did the rest of us on the show) that, taking place in the Marvel universe, we would likely see other Marvel characters from time to time. Because that was always kind of a Marvel Comics trademark! Occasionally the powers-that-were got a little anxious over who might hold the rights to various characters, so sometimes things got labeled a little… differently. In this case, the script we were working on at the time required we show some African mutant refugees, and we felt this was as good a time as any to give T’Challa a cameo. Hence, “African Mutant Refugee #3.”
Within the confines of the style of our show, I tried to get some hints of Kirby in there. Because, why not?
Update – February 28, 2018: It’s funny how things work. Aaron Couch, Heat Vision Editor for The Hollywood Reporter, did an interview with Larry Houston about Black Panther and the X-Men cartoon. Larry pointed him here to my site, and Aaron wanted to ask me a question or two also. The end result wound up part of this article. Thanks again for your interest, Aaron!