Christian Cooper, the Black man who recorded a white woman calling the cops on him in Central Park, has turned the incident into a graphic novel about racism. It’s a Bird has been published by DC Comics, the home of Batman and Superman.
The digital-only novel connects racism’s daily humiliations and deadly police brutality. The slim, 10-page story is the first in a series called “Represent!” featuring works of writers “traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium,” including people of color and the LGBTQ community, Marie Javins, an executive editor at DC, said in a statement.
The main character of It’s a Bird is Jules, a Black teenage birdwatcher. In the story, when Jules attempts to look through his binoculars at birds, he instead sees the faces of Black people who have been killed by the police.
Later in the story, Jules confronts a White woman in the park named Beth walking with her dog off its leash. When Jules faces her, he is backed by the images of several Black people killed in interactions with police. When he turns his back on her, he sees them winged and flying free.
Cooper told the New York Times the graphic novel “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.”
He added, “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.’”
Cooper said the graphic novel is not an exact recounting of his May 25 interaction with Amy Cooper. In the days after the incident, Amy Cooper was fired from her job, and the Manhattan district attorney charged her with filing a false police report.
Christian Cooper refused to cooperate with police after the incident and expressed compassion and support for Amy Cooper in the face of the consequences she suffered.
The incident led to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to push state lawmakers to pass a bill making it a hate crime to call 911 and make a false accusation based on race, gender, or religion. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a similar bill into law last week.
It’s a Bird is available online for free at several digital book and comic book retailers.