Christian Cooper, a former Marvel editor who made headlines worldwide during an encounter with a white woman in Central Park is returning to comics. He’s written a story called “It’s a Bird” which will kick off Represent!, a new digital anthology which will showcase voices which are underrepresented in Big Two comics. The story is based on real events.
Cooper’s collaborators on the tale include Alitha E. Martinez, Mark Morales, Emilio Lopez, and Rob Clark Jr. The series is available now for FREE on participating digital platforms including readdc.com, comiXology, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and more.
The series is edited by DC Executive editor Marie Javins, a former co-worker of Coopers’.
“This digital series is designed to showcase and introduce creators traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium,” she said in a statement. “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.”
In Cooper and Martinez’s story, Jules, a Black teenager, is given a pair of old binoculars as he heads out for a morning of bird-watching. “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,” said Cooper, while Martinez added, “I wish this story could have been that punctuation of, ‘…and we all lived happily ever after.’ But it just keeps coming.”
In a fine interview by Albert Ching at dccomics.com, Cooper and Martinez talk more about the story.
Given how rooted this is in real life, Represent! and specifically this first chapter feels like something unexpected from DC, in all the right ways. How did this story come together?
Christian Cooper: Marie and (VP, Global Publishing Initiatives & Digital Strategy) Bobbie Chase approached me about possibly doing a comic story that tapped into my experience. I thought, “I don’t know, DC Comics? Superheroes? Not sure how that’s going to work.” We kicked around a couple of ideas. They said they had gotten the title, I’m not sure exactly from who, but somebody pretty high up in the DC food chain: “It’s a Bird.” It took me half a beat. “Oh…I get what you did there.” Once I had the title, the story wrote itself.
Alitha E. Martinez: I didn’t see it coming. It was really something to get the script and read through it, because it’s such a powerful experience.
This is an undeniably powerful and poignant story, involving very real tragedies and injustices. What was it like putting those emotions into a comic book story—especially as it draws upon Christian’s first-hand experience?
Cooper: When I saw the artwork come back, there were aspects of it that made me gasp, just seeing it.
Martinez: Not a lot of people know—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.
The story has already received mainstream coverage in the NY Times, WaPo and every other media outlet, (although the NYT referred to the 10-page story as a “graphic novel”) so Represent! is getting quite a kick-off. More stories for Represent! will be released — digitally — throughout 2021.