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Black birdwatcher who had the cops called on him by Amy Cooper in NYC creates DC graphic novel

Christian Cooper, the former Marvel Comics editor who famously recorded Amy Cooper racially profiling him as he bird watched in New York’s Central Park, has returned to the world of comic books with a new story – inspired in-part by his May encounter with the white investment banker.

The 57-year-old was thrust into the media spotlight on Memorial Day when the footage he captured of Amy Cooper hysterically dialing 911 to falsely claim ‘an African American man is threatening my life’, went viral.

The disturbing confrontation was spurred after Harvard graduate Christian, who was bird watching in an area of the park known as The Ramble, asked Cooper to leash her dog in accordance with park rules.

But decades before the encounter – which took place on the same day that George Floyd was killed in Minnesota police custody, provoking nationwide protests against racism and police brutality – Mr. Cooper made his name as a pioneering comic book writer.

And amid the ongoing unrest, Cooper is using his own experience as the inspiration for a new graphic novel, ‘It’s a Bird’, in which he connects racism’s daily humiliations with deadly police brutality. 

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Christian Cooper, the former Marvel Comics editor who famously recorded Amy Cooper racially profiling him as he bird watched in New York¿s Central Park, has returned to the world of comic books with a new story

Amy Cooper seen during the May 25 incident

Christian Cooper, the former Marvel Comics editor who famously recorded Amy Cooper racially profiling him as he bird watched in New York’s Central Park, has returned to the world of comic books with a new story

Cooper is using his own experience as the inspiration for a new graphic novel, ¿It¿s a Bird¿, in which he connects racism¿s daily humiliations with deadly police brutality (pictured: the main character Jules is seen surrounded by fallen black lives, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor)

Cooper is using his own experience as the inspiration for a new graphic novel, ‘It’s a Bird’, in which he connects racism’s daily humiliations with deadly police brutality (pictured: the main character Jules is seen surrounded by fallen black lives, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor)








The graphic novel, published digitally by DC Comics, comes as a first in a series called ‘Represent!’ which features the works of writers traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium, including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.

Its main character is a teenager birder names Jules, who is black. Jules is given a pair of binoculars by his father and told to explore his surroundings, but the teen is quickly harassed by a number of characters who are seemingly threatened by his presence as an unannounced black man in an open space.

The binoculars also hand Jules a superpower, of sorts. When he tries to peer through them, rather than birds, he instead sees the faces of black people who have been killed by police.

In one exchange, after being ushered off the lawn of a white man, Jules envisions the face of George Floyd in place of a nearby warbler tree. 

In the closing stages of the story, Jules confronts a white woman in the park for walking her dog off leash. While the details closely resemble Mr. Cooper’s own experience, the woman in the fictionalized exchange is called Beth and depicted as heavy set, though Amy Cooper herself is not.

Beth threatens to call 911 on Jules, and as he faces her he is backed by the images of several Black people killed in interactions with police, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. 

When he turns his back on her, he sees them with all gaining wings and flying free. The woman continues to yell at Jules, but her words begin to physically diminish on the page.

‘You see her words become smaller and smaller, and less important,’ Mr. Cooper told the New York Times. ‘Because it’s not about her, it’s about the ones we’ve lost and how we keep from losing any more.’

Christian Cooper pictured bird watching

Its main character is a teenager birder names Jules, who is black. Jules is given a pair of binoculars by his father and told to explore his surroundings, but the teen quickly is quickly harassed by a number of characters who are seemingly threatened by his presence as an unannounced black man in an open space.

Its main character is a teenager birder names Jules, who is black. Jules is given a pair of binoculars by his father and told to explore his surroundings, but the teen quickly is quickly harassed by a number of characters who are seemingly threatened by his presence as an unannounced black man in an open space

The binoculars also hand Jules a superpower, of sorts. When he tries to peer through them, rather than birds, he instead sees the faces of black people who have been killed by police

The binoculars also hand Jules a superpower, of sorts. When he tries to peer through them, rather than birds, he instead sees the faces of black people who have been killed by police

The faces of Amadou Diallo, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor also feature throughout the 10-page book

The faces of Amadou Diallo, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor also feature throughout the 10-page book

Mr.Cooper said It’s a Bird ‘shouldn’t be looked at as any one experience, because it’s not. It’s drawn from a whole bunch of experiences and woven together from that — my own and the ones we keep hearing from news reports.

‘What happened to me is minor compared to the fatal consequences for George Floyd later that same day, but it all comes from the same place of racial bias.

‘I am not trying to equate these things. What I am trying to say is: “See the pattern”,’ he continued.

Mr. Cooper also added that the graphic novel was also intentionally not an exact step-by-step reconstruction of his May 25 encounter with Amy Cooper.

‘I think that is the beauty of comics, it lets you reach that place visually and viscerally,’ he told the outlet. ‘And that’s what this comic is meant to do: Take all these real things that are out there and, by treating them in a magical realist way, get to the heart of the matter.’

In the hours that followed the emergence of Mr. Cooper’s video, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio branded Amy Cooper a ‘racist’ as outrage over the incident – commonly referred to as Central Park Karen – rippled out nationwide.

Cooper was terminated from her $170k-per-year role at as head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton shortly afterwards. A petition to ban her from Central Park for life also emerged, and she was later charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office with filing a false police report.

Mr. Cooper refused to cooperate in the investigation, and has publicly expressed sympathy for Ms. Cooper in regard to the consequences that she has suffered. He also accepted a public written apology she issued through her attorney, in which she claimed she ‘isn’t a racist’ and hoped ‘a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of 40 years will not define me in his eyes.’

Mr. Cooper also added that the graphic novel was also intentionally not an exact step-by-step reconstruction of his May 25 encounter with Amy Cooper.

Amy Cooper shown above in a social media post

Mr. Cooper also added that the graphic novel was also intentionally not an exact step-by-step reconstruction of his May 25 encounter with Amy Cooper.

While Beth continues to yell at Jules, her words begin to physically diminish on the page. ¿You see her words become smaller and smaller, and less important,¿ Mr. Cooper told the New York Times. ¿Because it¿s not about her, it¿s about the ones we¿ve lost and how we keep from losing any more'

While Beth continues to yell at Jules, her words begin to physically diminish on the page. ‘You see her words become smaller and smaller, and less important,’ Mr. Cooper told the New York Times. ‘Because it’s not about her, it’s about the ones we’ve lost and how we keep from losing any more’

Mr. Cooper told the Times that, in the near-four months since, he has still not heard directly from Ms. Cooper and hopes it stays that way.

‘It has never stopped being about the birds for me,’ Mr. Cooper said. ‘From the beginning that confrontation had nothing to do with race. It became about race when she made it about race.’

Between 1991 and 1999, Cooper worked as an editor and writer for Marvel and was one of the comic giant’s first openly gay employees.

The Harvard graduate used his platform to substantially increase the representation of LGBTQ people within the pages of Marvel comics, even introducing Star Trek’s first openly gay character, Yoshi Mishima, in his short-lived Starfleet Academy series in 1996.

The graphic novel, published digitally by DC Comics, comes as a first in a series called ¿Represent!¿ which features the works of writers traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium, including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community

The graphic novel, published digitally by DC Comics, comes as a first in a series called ‘Represent!’ which features the works of writers traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium, including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community

He eventually left the field in the early 2000s, and now works as a senior editorial director at Health Science Communications.

Mr. Cooper told the Washington Post he didn’t expect to wind up back at a superhero publisher so quickly.

‘I really appreciated it when [DC Comics] came to me and said do you want to do this comic, because I did have something to say.

‘It’s interesting how it slips into maybe this space in the DC Universe that isn’t normally occupied. It is a very magical-realist tale. There is something fantastical that happens in the course of the story. But it’s not capes. It’s not superheroes.’

Mr. Cooper explained the sentimental meaning behind the binoculars Jules wields in the comic. Their modeled on the real life pair he always uses in Central Park that were given to him by his father, a teacher, civil rights activist and Korean War veteran, on his 50th-birthday.

‘To me, those binoculars have an extra weight,’ Cooper told the Post. ‘They are more than just binoculars to me. And I wanted to weave that into the comic as well.’

While avid comic book fans will be quick to point out the graphic novel’s title is a nod to the famous Superman line, ‘It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!’ But Cooper said he also saw the title as a way to pay tribute to the lives of the fallen black people he features throughout the story.

‘At the end, [the story] takes that phrase that is associated with Superman and just launches to this other place, to this moment of grace that so many were denied in how they died and kind of giving that to them in fiction what they didn’t get in real life,’ Cooper said. ‘I think that was very important to do.’

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