It is with a heavy heart that I must report the passing of John Cooper, who died on the 22nd February 2015 following a short illness.
John was arguable the artist most identified with Johnny Red. He worked on the strip from 1979 to 1984, producing over 1100 pages of art throughout his 303 episodes in the weekly comic, summer specials and annuals. His run on the strip was later reprinted following Battle‘s merger with the revived Eagle.
Outside of his work on Johnny Red, John illustrated some of the best in British comics, for a variety of publishers, including IPC, D.C. Thomson, Polystyle and Marvel UK, for over four decades, working with writers such as Tom Tully, Alan Hebden, Chris Lowder, Ken Armstrong, Pat Mills, David Stone, John Wagner, Alan Grant and Alan Moore, on strips including Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, One-Eyed Jack, Spinball, Dredger, Timequake, Future Shocks, Judge Dredd, Action Force, M.A.C.H 1, Major Eazy, Roy of the Rovers, The A Team, Airwolf, The Fall Guy and more. He was an accomplished marine painter, with his own gallery in Bridlington, illustrated the works of Enid Blyton, including her Famous Five series, provided courtroom art for ITN, and drew satirical football strips for Private Eye, based on his own Roy of the Rovers work.
In later years John struggled with emphysema, but was able to return to comics work in 2008, drawing Terror Tales in 2000AD, and several Armitage strips for the Judge Dredd Megazine. In a 2010 interview, he expressed a desire to see his work on Johnny Red reprinted. It is very sad to know he did not live to see this, although there is some consolation that his work on The General Dies at Dawn was reprinted in Battle Classics last year. A collection of his first year on Johnny Red is due to be released by Titan Books this summer, and should serve as a fitting tribute to a stalwart of the British comics world since 1966.
Bud’te Zdorovy Comrade Cooper.