Story at a glance
- Christian Cooper is a science writer and birder who went viral after posting a video of a white woman calling the police on him in Central Park.
- A new comic book inspired by Cooper’s experience tells the story of racism and police brutality in America.
- The book is the first of a new series by DC Comics seeking to diversify representation in their works.
A viral video of a white woman threatening to call the police on him turned Christian Cooper into a household name. Now, the birdwatcher and science writer is taking back the narrative through a medium he hasn’t used in decades: comic books.
“It’s a Bird” is a graphic novel inspired by Cooper’s experience in Central Park as well as the stories of Amadou Diallo, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The 10-page book, a collaborative effort by Cooper, artist Alitha E. Martinez, inker Mark Morales, colorist Emilio Lopez and letterer Rob Clark Jr., is the first of a new series by DC Comics called "Represent!"
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“This digital series is designed to showcase and introduce creators traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium,” said executive editor Marie Javins in a release. “We’ll highlight both new and familiar voices, beginning with ‘It’s a Bird’ by writer Christian Cooper and artist Alitha E. Martinez, a semi-fictionalized account of Christian’s very real evolution from a kid with a pair of binoculars to a man in an unexpected media spotlight after an altercation with a woman walking her dog in Central Park.”
The main character, Jules, is gifted a pair of binoculars that allow him to focus on more than just the birds around him. Cooper's own binoculars were a gift from his father, a Korean War veteran who was active in the Civil Rights movement.
Martinez also pulled from her own experiences to bring the book to life — including an ending that breaks from DC's traditional superhero arcs.
"I came back into this country as a child, and I was deported. I know how those children in lockup feel. I know how it feels to have your birthday changed. I know how it feels to have everything taken from you. That’s something I kept pressed inside of me for many years," said Martinez in an interview published by DC. "So when I see this new wave of outrage, I realize it’s a long history. It’s never ending. I wish this story could have been that punctuation of, '…and we all lived happily ever after.' But it just keeps coming."
Still, Cooper said it was important for him to keep the focus on the Black lives that have been lost to police brutality.
"I hope young people read it, and that they’re inspired to keep the focus where it needs to be, which is on those we have lost and how we keep from losing more. There are people who are invested in distracting us right now, and there are people who want to distract us from their failures on so many other things. That’s not what this moment is about. This moment is about the ones we’ve lost, and how we’re going to keep from losing any more. And if you’re not talking about that, I don’t want to hear it," he said in the interview.
The first chapter of the book is available online for free on readdc.com, Comixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books and other digital platforms, with additional chapters available digitally in 2021.
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