You might know Christian Cooper as the mild-mannered New York City birdwatcher who became a social media hero last month following a racially-charged encounter in Central Park. But even before that incident thrust him into the wider public eye, the 57-year-old editor and writer was a comic book industry superhero. During the 1990s, Cooper was one of the first openly gay employees at Marvel Comics, and worked to increase LGBTQ representation in the pages of the company’s comics by leaps and bounds.
“It was really a dream come true to work there,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I’d been a Marvel guy since I was a little kid. For anyone who is into comics and they get a chance to work at Marvel or DC, you’re like ‘This is so amazing.’”
Cooper certainly accomplished amazing things during his Marvel tenure. In March 1992, he served as the assistant editor on the landmark issue of Alpha Flight in which the mutant hero, Northstar (created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne), came out of the closet. Later that same year, he created the company’s first lesbian hero, Victoria Montesi, in the pages of Darkhold. And as the writer of the short-lived Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series, he boldly introduced the franchise’s first openly gay character, Yoshi Mishima. After parting ways with Marvel in the late ’90s, he became a web comic pioneer with Queer Nation, a never-completed series that he’s now hoping to revive.
“With my new notoriety or fame — whatever you want to call it — I am looking to take Queer Nation out of mothballs,” he says. “It has a certain urgency right now that maybe it didn’t have back then, because one of the core plot points is that a crazy right-wing fascist has been elected president and is pandering to the religious right. Oh wait, that couldn’t happen in real life!”
This article was originally posted on yahoo.com/entertainment/.