John Cooper was born in Featherstone, West Yorkshire,on May on 26th 1942, son of Ernest (Tiny) and Winifred (Winnie) Cooper, licensees of the Plough Inn, South Elmsall near Pontefract. John married his wife Estelle and had two children, Sean and Joanne Cooper. In 1976 the family moved to Bridlington, East Yorkshire.
He studied art in Leeds and Wakefield Art College. He worked for a firm of shopfitters in Wakefield, then for Falcon Studios in Leeds. He went freelance in 1964 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".
He had a spell with with DC Thomson, drawing for "Bullet", "Wendy", "Soccer Library" and other titles in 1976-77, but most of his work in the 1970s was for IPC. He drew "Dixie of Dollycabs" for Mirabelle; "Grange Hill", "Wurzel Gummidge" and "Doctor at Sea" for TV Comic; and "Flight to Fortune", "Doctor in Charge", "Doctor at Sea" and "Man From Atlantis" for Look-In.
FRom 1975 he drew "One-Eyed Jack" for Valiant, and followed the strip into Battle Picture Weekly in 1976 when Valiant merged into it. For Battle he also drew "Gaunt", "Dredger" (which he previously drew for Action) and "The General Dies at Dawn", and took over WWII aviation strip "Johnny Red" from original artist Joe Colquhoun, drawing it from 1978 to 1984 and producing what is probably his best-remembered work.
For 2000 AD he drew the first "Judge Dredd" strip commissioned after Carlos Ezquerra's aborted original, although it was held back until prog 19. He drew a number of other "Dredd" strips, and also drew "M.A.C.H. 1" numerous one-offs, and some of Alan Moore's "Abelard Snazz" strips. He also drew "Timequake" for Starlord, and "The Lawless Touch" for Tornado.
In the 1980s he took on work at Marvel UK, on "Blake's 7", "Trekker", "Doctor Who" and "Biker Mice from Mars" in 1981-95, and Look-In, drawing "The Fall Guy", "Wurzel Gummidge", "CHiPs", "Murphy’s Mob", "Streethawk", "Knight Rider", "The A-Team" and "Airwolf" in 1981-87. He continued to work for IPC, drawing "The Amstor Computer", "Computer Warrior" and "Mask and Venom" for Eagle, and "Playmaker" for Hot-Shot, and for DC Thomson, working on "Sergeant Heavy" and "The Wingless Hawk" for Warlord and "Morgyn the Mighty" fr Victor.
In the 1990s he drew "Goalmouth" and "Hammersmith FC" for Roy of the Rovers, Striker in The Sun, and satirical football strips, usually called "Roy of the (something topical)s", for Private Eye. For much of the 1990s he was a full-time carer for his mother, who had a long-term illness, and turned his attention to marine painting and caricature work for TV, and spent time as a courtroom artist.
In 2005 he drew a short historical graphic novel, Richard the Lionheart: The Life of a King and Crusader, written by David West and Jackie Gaff. This led to a return to 2000 AD, drawing "Tharg's Terror Tales" (2006), and the Judge Dredd Megazine, where he drew "Armitage" (2008-10).
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.
- The Creators: John Cooper, Falcon Squadron
- Steve Holland, John Cooper (1942-2015), Bear Alley, 28 February 2015