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FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008

COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL: BLACK PANTHER

SAN DIEGO -- The upcoming Black Panther animated series was spotlighted at BET's panel at Comic-Con International on Saturday.

Reginald Hudlin, president of BET, moderated the panel. He was scheduled to be joined by Denys Cowan, senior vice-president, animation of BET, Black Panther artist John Romita Jr. and Marvel's Cort Lane and John Dokes.

* Below are highlights:

* The panel began with a video presentation of all of the network's upcoming programming, along with a preview from Hannibal the Conqueror, BET's other animated series.

* The same sizzler reel that Hudlin debuted at Marvel's Cup O' Joe panel was shown.

* "I'm very excited about the series because we're trying to do something never done before, bring an actual comic book to life," Hudlin said, noting the series will be based on the "Who is the Black Panther?" six-issue story that Romita drew.

* The series will premiere in February.

* Cowan, who initiated the series, said the animation process came from the Hollywood-based Titmouse animation house, which produces Metalopaclypse. "Basically we took them the comic book, and it waa very simple," Cowan said, noting Romita's artwork is "very cinematic."

* Hudlin said that Black Panther is very conflicted because he is "a moral man in a moral world."

* Hudlin said there will always be heightened scrutiny of the series because there are so few black characters on television. He said it is important to present a variety of characters.

* "I got chills watching that. It's a selfish feeling. The whole package, working with Reggie, made perfect sense to me," Romita said.

* Hudlin said there will be an advertising campaign, but it really begins with the fans, and that's why the series was featured at Comic-Con. Large bags were distributed at the convention.

* When will the shows air? Hudlin said programming is always tricky and he played with whether he should pair Black Panther and Hannibal.

"I haven't made all those decisions yet," Hudlin said. "We've still got a couple of months."

Hudlin said Black Panther will definitely be a prime-time series, likely airing at 10 p.m.

* Hudlin said there have been talks of study guides for Hannibal.

* Hudlin said the network has a sci-fi project in development.

* The first eight episodes of Black Panther will adapt the "Who is the Black Panther?" story line.

* Hudlin said he is "always down" to work with Priest. He called Priest's story of having Black Panther join the Avengers to spy on them "was the most magnificent twist."

* Lane said Black Panther will be appearing in Nicktoons' Iron Man: Armored Adventures series.

* Cowan noted that he's not retired as a comic-book artist, having drawn a Batman: Confidential story. Hudlin said that he and Cowan have worked together for 20 years, but never on a comic book. He then said they will be doing a comic book this year.

* Asked about his imprint on the animated series, "The best thing about working with talent people is letting them show their talent," Cowan said.

"The man is an art director," Romita countered.

Cowan said he will know if Romita's style is not being interpreted correctly. Romita added there is a lot of material in between panels that Cowan is overseeing.

* Hudlin said there will be additional adaptations and new stories for the show.

* Hudlin said there BET's outreach is interational, including the African community.



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