Christian Cooper Recalls Pioneering Marvel Comics History After Central Park Incident

Christian Cooper recalled his pioneering Marvel Comics history after he made headlines being threatened during an incident in Central Park. Before all that took place, the man was one of the first openly gay employees at Marvel Comics back in the 1990s. Cooper helped increase LGBTQ representation at the company with his work on Alpha Flight and Darkhold. He was the assistant editor on the issue where Northstar came out about his sexual orientation. Victoria Montesi was the first lesbian hero in Marvel history. So, when it comes to expanding the range of stories told and perspectives available, Cooper did a lot to open the door wider for those who came after him. He talked to Yahoo! Entertainment about the experience and how he adjusted to Marvel.

Northstar’s journey was a tricky one. He described the road to getting the storyline in the hands of readers. “We had to hire a new writer, and we talked to Scott Lobdell. We’re at a lunch going over the possible storylines, and Scott says, "I think maybe we should bring Northstar out of the closet." And we were like, "Yeah, it's time for Northstar to be out of the closet." So it was very matter-of-fact. His original issue was about twice as wordy as it ended up being — we just cut and cut. It's not the most subtle issue ever, but it got the job done.”

“We sent out a solicitation to comic shops that said that’s what was going to be happening in that issue. Then we got a phone call from some comic book shop, which asked, ‘Does Northstar really come out of the closet in No. 106?’ I told Bobbie, and she said that we had to notify the head of PR. So I go trotting to her office, and you could just see the blood drain out of her face,” he continued. “The higher-ups tried to pull the issue from the printer before it was printed, but they were too late, thank god. The really ridiculous thing was that they gagged us from talking [to the press]. They had this opportunity to get all this publicity for the issue, and instead they said, ‘You can not talk about this issue at all.’”

“But the issue came out, and it was pretty cool. There was some negative reaction — I think some Texas comic book shop owner said, ‘Now I have to put Alpha Flight on a top shelf in a special brown cover.’ I was like, “What?” And apparently, the Catholic Church was going to come out with a statement against us, but then decided not to. We had persistent goodwill from them, because we had done a Pope John Paul II comic. So yeah, it was a crazy time!” he laughed.