A young Black man is given a pair of his grandfather’s binoculars. As he steps out into the world to do some birdwatching the binoculars show him more than he bargained for, and the people he encounters show their true colours.
That’s the start of It’s A Bird – a short story by writer Christian Cooper, artist Alitha E. Martinez, inker Mark Morales, colorist Emilio Lopez, and letterer Rob Clark Jr. The story, of a birdwatcher who endures a racist encounter in a park with a dog-walking “Karen” may sound familiar as it’s pulled directly from gay writer Christian Cooper’s real life.
On May 25th 2020, Christian Cooper asked Amy Cooper (no relation) to leash her dog as per Central Park rules. The woman, caught on camera footage that quickly went viral, called 9-1-1 to falsely report that Cooper “an African American man” was “threatening” her and her dog. Casually and horrifyingly weaponising her white privilege by invoking centuries of racism and a history of police brutality against Black bodies. In Minneapolis, later that same day, George Floyd was killed by police.
Cooper has transposed his experiences into a powerful comic book story highlighting the experiences of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Amadou Diallo and countless other Black men and women whose lives have been cut short as a result of police violence in the USA.
It’s A Bird is more than story though, it’s the first chapter and mission statement of DC Comics’ bigger anthology series Represent! which continues in 2021. It’s DC’s commitment to releasing material from “creators traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream comic book medium”.
As an opening story for Represent!, It’s A Bird hits the right tone (reminding me a lot of Kurt Busiek’s beautiful AstroCity series). It’s personal and reflects our world back at us through the lens of a slightly heightened story, like a great episode of The Twilight Zone.
No other Represent! creators have been announced yet, but it seems safe to assume more LGBTQ+ voices will be in the mix. It’s a great initiative from a major comic publisher, and I look forward to more chapters in this series being released.
By Chad Armstrong, with additional writing by James Kleinmann
It’s A Bird is available now, for free, from a variety of digital platforms. The anthology Represent! will be released in 2021.