Known better as “Coop”, John Cooper was born in Featherstone, West Yorkshire in 1942. Working on licensed titles in the sixties, he moved onto girls and boys action adventure comics in the seventies, including Battle and Valiant. He drew the first commissioned Judge Dredd strip in 2000AD – though it was only published months later in Prog 19 as it was considered too violent and Coop had to tone it down. He drew many strips for the magazine, including Alan Moore‘s Future Shock Abelard Snazz.
He studied art in York and Wakefield Art College. He worked for a firm of shopfitters in Wakefield, then for Falcon Studios in Leeds. He went freelance in 1963, aged 21, working through a London agent, Billie M. Cooper (no relation). His first published strip work was "Agent 21" for a TV Century 21 annual. From 1966 to 1969 he was a regular for the weekly, drawing "Lady Penelope", "Captain Scarlet", "Joe 90" and "Thunderbirds".
In the eighties he returned to licensed comics, the nineties to football comics – even a parody of his own football comics for Private Eye, before moving to painting, caricature and a courtroom artist.
He returned to comics in 2008 on Armitage in Judge Dredd Magazine.
An unassuming man, Coop was a very much liked figure in the comic book community, and will be missed a great deal.
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. He died on 22 February 2015, survived by his second wife Lesley. He had two children from his first marriage.
We’re so sad to hear of the passing of another 2000 AD great: John Cooper, artist on Judge Dredd and Armitage, as well as classic comics series such as Johnny Red and One-Eyed Jack. Deepest condolences to his family and friends.