As a child who grew up in the 1980s I cannot tell you how my mother completely blacked out when she found out that Billy D. Williams, then still considered heartthrob in the African American community, was going to be appearing in Empire Strikes Back. At 8-years-old, the significance of a Black man being cast in a Star Wars sequel.
To me, he was just some guy from the Colt 45 commercials, but my mother and aunt talked about the dude like he was the second coming of Sidney Poitier, except cooler. His smooth demeanor and charismatic smile were so perfectly transferred to the character of Lando Calrissian that William’s likeness will forever be attached to that of this fictional character.
Although he only appeared in the Star Wars film franchise for a combined total of 19 minutes, good ol’ Lando became one of the most popular characters in the entire franchise. In fact, he became so popular that Marvel Comics recently announced your favorite homeboy from outer space will be getting his own comic book miniseries in July. We were fortunate enough to have the camera rolling, albeit at a very annoying angle and on the low, at the Marvel Presents Star Wars Panel at BookCon 2015 last week.
The panel was moderated by Marvel Editor Jordan White and attended by writer Charles Soule and illustrator Alex Maleev. Check it out.