Groundbreaking Marvel Editor Christian Cooper Would Now Like to Show You Some Birds

After an accomplished Marvel comics career, well-known Central Park birdwatcher Christian Cooper is ready for an unlikely second act.

Christian Cooper surveys the new grasslands at Freshkills Park.
Photo: Troy Christopher | National Geographic

The history of Marvel Comics would look a lot different without Christian Cooper.

Then credited as “Chris Cooper,” the New York-based comics nerd and Marvel die-hard was the company’s first openly gay writer and editor. In the 1990s, Cooper worked on Marvel fare that included characters like Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, and Vengeance. He also created Victoria Montesi, Marvel’s first openly lesbian character, and was an associate editor for Alpha Flight #106: the issue in which Northstar came out of the closet.

While comics were his first love, they were never his only love. Cooper is also an avid birder who likes to frequent Central Park, binoculars in hand, looking for warblers, sparrows, doves, and the like. It’s because of that particular interest that the recent history of the United States itself would look a lot different without Christian Cooper as well.

On May 25, 2020 (the same day George Floyd was murdered), Cooper was the victim of racial intimidation in an event that Wikipedia has euphemistically dubbed the “Central Park birdwatching incident.” That day Cooper was birding The Ramble in Central Park, as he often does, when he came across a woman named Amy Cooper (no relation) and her dog, which was not on a leash in violation of The Ramble rules. After allegedly refusing Christian’s request to leash her dog, Amy called 9-1-1 and told dispatch “There is an African American man—I am in Central Park—he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. Please, send the cops immediately!” Christian recorded the incident on his phone, which went viral. Amy Cooper was ultimately charged with filing a false report, though the charges were dropped after she completed an educational course.


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