Collecting strips both collections in softcover. 106 pages.
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New Distance strips for 2022 - Read them here
Artwork from my 2020 comic strip diary about a comedians life during the outbreak of the global pandemic has been selected for HOME Manchester's open exhibition in 2022. From Mon 24 Jan - Sun 27 Mar 2022, the duration of the exhibition, you can read all the strips here on my website.
Find out more about the open exhibition here
Shortly after publishing both collections in print, I contracted covid 19. It was horrible. Having tested positive I could have been infected at a few places and was impossible for me to pin down where and how? I was lucky, having had my first jab it didn't hit me very hard.
With headaches and lots of fatigue, I recovered in around a week. Lots of relief and gratitude. I considered drawing a few more strips to record the moment, but thought better of it, as the ending that had presented itself felt perfect, and I didn't want to change the tone and positive message of the strip. - John.
Distance is a comic strip diary about right now, getting inside the head of a comedian (me) with an empty diary. From the introduction of social distancing, clapping for the NHS, and the discovery of the vaccine. I looked for positivity and humour visualising my thoughts, hope and fears in real-time.
The format really dictated itself. At the time I was reading 'Charleys War', a classic British comic strip about a soldier in World War I. In it, a lot of story is squeezed into a few pages, with very economical storytelling through thoughts and moments.
As we know, in the early days of the pandemic a lot was happening, and very quickly, Drawing allowed me to slow down a bit and process the world around when people were panic buying bog roll and wine. I just drew what was happened and put it online. As times went on became more reflective, and as the world has changed the process has revealed more to me about myself than I ever thought it would.
I collected the first 50 strips in print in July 2020, and the second 50 in June 2021 through two successful Kickstarter campaigns, available here.
I've been very lucky and not contracted Covid19 (update - I did eventually, not too serious). The pandemic has caused tragedy and sadness and at times I have questioned what to draw - what to leave in, what to leave out. How quickly would the "Hey folks, let's be positive" message wear thin?
At the very least, creating Distance has been something I could do while there are no gigs, a focus to help get me through, and feedback has been super supportive.
Lockdown three in the UK in March 2021 was really hard, fatigue kicked in and I was really reaching for what to include that wouldn't be negative. That's where running really helped.
All the best thoughts, words and images that I've put into the strip have come into my head during a run, and that's why it's so core to the strip. Running is a perfect space to process thoughts and emotions. I still have a few 'covid pounds' and the half marathons of 2018 feel like a distant memory, but I'll get there again, in the future.
I had been considering how and when to wrap up the strip in early 2021. Covid isn't going away there as still countries suffering badly. I knew if I tried to engineer narrative closure and 'look for a story' it would feel a bit fake. It's a diary, life goes on.
May 2021 felt like a natural end for the strip. The vaccine rollout here has been successful and as events are playing out, two of the things I lost are coming back. Running in groups and Comedysportz my improv gang, have their first scheduled indoor show later this month, face to face, with a real audience!
The 100th strip also coincides with an event that's really significant to me. Nothing I've planned - and I don't want to write about it more, because right now it's in the future, and having things to look forward to again is is really special.
"Empowering, affirming fuel for strange times...a wonderful addition to any comic fans shelf."Comic Book News
“More jogging and bread than Walking Dead”The British Comedy Guide
In March 2020 the UK went into lock-down and the world went dark and scary in the grip of COVID-19. For comedian and runner John Cooper, Parkruns were cancelled and comedy clubs closed. Stay at home, control the virus...draw comics.
Created one page at a time, as it happens, Distance gets inside the head of a comedian looking for humour in real life during dark times.
“A comic strip diary about right now’. Washing my hands, washing my shopping and avoiding the news”.
I’ve always drawn stuff and I keep a diary. When I saw the way things were going in other countries, I started thinking about ways to keep my mind active and generate new material, and doing a comic strip about day to day social distancing just made sense. It can be really serious obviously, as these are scary times, but I want it to be fun too - something to provide a little bit of light relief, and the odd visual gag. It also stops me from going round the twist, being stuck at home.