Christian Cooper Pens Graphic Novel About Racism Partly Inspired by Amy Cooper in Central Park
Christian Cooper wrote It's a Bird for DC Comics, the first of its new Represent! digital series
Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher who made headlines in May after a white woman called the cops on him in Central Park, is adapting his real-life experiences into a graphic novel that will explore the killings of multiple unarmed Black men and women.
It’s a Bird, written by Cooper, will kick off DC Comics’ new digital series Represent! with the story of Jules, a Black teenager who receives a pair of old binoculars as heads out to spend a morning bird-watching.
At one point, in a plot that echoes Cooper’s real-life incident, Jules enters a park with a sign declaring all dogs must be kept on leashes. A dog emerges from the bushes chasing after a bird, and Jules has an encounter with its owner, a white woman named Beth.
When Jules asks Beth to leash her dog, the situation escalates, and Beth threatens to call police, just as Amy Cooper did, even using similar language; “I’ll call the police and tell them an African American is threatening my life!” she says.
At that point, Jules is surrounded by the black-and-white images of a dozen Black people killed by police, including Floyd and Taylor. He then looks through his binoculars and sees them all with large wings, as if they were superheroes.
“I hope young people read it in particular, 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,” Cooper said in a statement.
It’s a Bird is a return to the industry after 20 years away for Cooper, a former comics editor and writer who found himself in the media spotlight in May following an encounter with a woman named Amy Cooper in Central Park.
He was bird-watching in the Ramble area of the park when he came upon Amy and her unleashed dog, which is against park regulations. He asked her to leash her pet, and pulled out dog treats — but before he could give the dog one, Amy called police, and told them there was “an African American man threatening my life,” according to a video recording taken by Cooper. Amy later apologized, and was fired from her job.
DC executive editor Marie Javins said in a statement that It’s a Bird is a “semi-fictional 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 book is written by Cooper, with art from Alitha E. Martinez, ink by Mark Morales, coloring by Emilio Lopez and lettering by Rob Clark Jr.
“I like the journey the young character goes through, from naïve and flippant; to the end, he’s quite sober about everything,” Cooper said. “When I see the violent images, they really made me gasp at the power of them. The one that really hurt me was the one of Breonna Taylor — just the idea of someone losing their life in that way.”
The first Represent! chapter is available for free on participating platforms, including readdc.com, Comixology, Amazon Kindle and Apple Books. Other chapters will be released digitally next year.