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28 May 2017

Cooper, John (1942-2015) UK (1)

CooperJVJohn Cooper had a career in comics that spanned five decades and dozens of characters, although it will be for two action-packed and often violent strips that he will be remembered, one the memorable precursor to ‘Judge Dredd’.

CooperJ1John Cooper was born in Featherstone, West Yorkshire, in May 1942, the son of Ernest Cooper and his wife Winifred (née Hollis).After working for a shopfitters in Wakefield and for Falcon Studios in Leeds, Cooper decided to go freelance after a conversation with a patron at his father’s pub. He picked a London agent, randomly choosing Billie M. Cooper because of the coincidence of names, who soon found him work, his earliest illustrations appearing in Swift, Girl, Eagle and Boys’ World annuals in the early 1960s. Cooper then found work with a group of titles based around the puppet show creations of Gerry Anderson, his first strip (‘Agent 21’) appearing in the 1968 TV 21 Annual. After briefly taking over the lead strip for Lady Penelope in 1968, Cooper worked more extensively on ‘Captain Scarlet’ in TV21 and took over ‘Thunderbirds’ in the relaunched TV21 & Joe 90 from Frank Bellamy, drawing the strip for eight months.

Cooper continued his association with television shows at Look-In in the 1970s, drawing ‘Flight to Fortune’, ‘Doctor in Charge’, ‘Doctor at Sea’ and ‘Man from Atlantis’ as well as drawing for the girls’ comic Mirabelle, a task he was ill-suited for. He hit his stride in 1975 when he was offered ‘One-Eyed Jack’, which he continued to draw when Valiant merged with Battle Picture Weekly a year later. In keeping with the war theme, Jack transferred from his New York precinct to become an agent for American military intelligence.CooperJ2

Following Jack’s demise in 1977, Cooper drew ‘Gaunt’, about a British spy seeking revenge after his hand is crippled by an SS, before taking on ‘Dredger’ and ‘The General Dies at Dawn’ in the newly renamed Battle Action...

In later life, Cooper suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which often left him tired and breathless. Although retired from comics, he satisfied his urge to keep drawing by producing maritime paintings, which found a ready market. In 2010, Cooper and others helped raise money to fund a new local RNLI lifeboat in Bridlington, which Cooper dubbed the Windsor Spirit at its naming ceremony.

Cooper passed away on 22 February 2015 after a short illness, survived by his second wife, Lesley, and two children from his first marriage.

Royal London Yacht Club Regatta:
Valkyrie II to leeward of Navahoe

 00269
signed 'John Cooper' (lower left) acrylic 25 x 32 1/2 in. (63.5 x 83 cm.)

 

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