Al Cooper created the characters “Captain Red Thortan”, “Clift Steele”, and “Scotty MacDonald” and took over the cartooning duties for “The Young Commandos” while at Bell Features & Publishing in the 1940’s. He was particularly good at drawing military equipment, aircraft, tanks etc. His drawings are the best to be found in the wartime comics.

Born in 1925 in Toronto, Al received some art training at Central Technical School, a composite high school in Toronto. His interest in art was such that he would go to an art gallery on Saturdays and through a window, he was too young to register, he would try to copy what the students were learning.

He was among the first artists to be used by Commercial Signs/Bell Features. His “Captain Red Thortan” and “Scotty MacDonald” appeared in the first issues of Active Comics and Dime Comics respectively both published February 1942, just six months after their single predecessor WOW Comics featuring the work of E.T. Legault. In fact, “Scotty MacDonald” actually appeared earlier in Maple Leaf Publishing’s Better Comics 1-3, May 1941, as a three-panel cartoon on the “Prize Winning Cartoons” page.

In Active Comics 13, we are told Al was with the R.C.A.F. at Uplands Station in Ottawa, doing victory bond posters. The single page panel says that “Captain Red Thortan” will reappear in the next issue and it did. Al continued to cartoon this serial and “Scotty MacDonald” at nights after he finished his day duties and to send the results to Bell Features; however, both these serials were reduced in length by about a half and Al dropped both “Clift Steele” and “Young Commandos” in Commando Comics. The first was taken over by Adrian Dingle and the second by Jerry Lazare.

In July 1944, he was shipped to the R.A.F. base Croft in England. He continued to send his work to Bell, but the logistics were apparently too difficult. His involvement with “Captain Red Thortan” ended with Active18 and was taken over by Fred Kelly with issue 20. “Scotty MacDonald simply ended with Dime 20. Meanwhile, he improved his technical skills by enrolling in a program at Bournemouth College of Art with the R.C.A.F. paying his tuition. Although in Joke Comics 26, Cy Bell expressed confidence that Al would return to the “Clift Steele”, “Captain Red Thorton” and “Scotty MacDonald, serials this turned out not to be the case. By the time Al returned to Canada, the industry was in its death throes.

He bought a Gestetner machine with his discharge money and began designing and printing for clients. He followed this with work as a graphic artist at an agency and later became a partner and creative director at Maple Leaf Press in Toronto in the 1950’s. In 1963, he started his own company called Cooper Graphics and Associates in Thornhill Ontario.

In community work, he was president of the Downsview Lodge of the B’nai B’rith and worked on developing their newspaper The Covenant. He was involved with the Herbie Foundation at the Hospital for Sick Children.

He died of a heart ailment at the Toronto General Hospital 7 January 1986.





Fact Sheet:

Active Comics … no date: “…” … Bell Features & Publishing Co. Black & white.
5: “Battle Tactics”: Inside front cover.

6: “Paratroopers”: 16; “Fighting Aircraft”: 31; “Tanks”: 63.

7: “Flying Tigers”: Inside front cover.

8: “Crack U.S. Fighters”: 12; “Communication Aero planes”: 15.

12: “The Typhoon”: 22.

13: “Torpedo Aircraft”: 18-19.

18: “American Bombers of the Three Wheeled Type”: 30.

Commando Comics … no date: “…” …
4: “Commando Weapons”: 22.

5: “ Military vehicles”: 36; “Tanks”: 37; “Italian Bombers”: 38; “Gun Turrets”: 39.


Active comics …: “Capt. Red Thortan.” Car., Al Cooper: …. Commercial Signs of Canada. Black & white
1, Feb. 1942: 32-46. 2, Mar. 1942. 34-48. 3, no date: 17-30.
Active comics … no date: “Capt. Red Thortan.” Cartoonist., Al Cooper except where otherwise noted: …. Bell Features & Publishing Co. Black & white.
4: 38-49.

5: 38-49.

6: 36-47.

7: 35-46.

8: 39-50.

9: 39-50.

10: 26-34.

11: 13-21.

12: 14-21.

13: 17.

14: 11-15.

15: Car., unidentified: 11-15.

16: Car., unidentified: 35-40.

17: 24-29.

18: 17-22.

19: No Captain Red Thortan

Commando Comics … no date: “Clift Steele …” Car., Al Cooper: …, Bell Features & Publishing Co. Black & white.
4: 1-10. 5: 1-10.
Commando Comics … no date: “Young Commandos” Car., Al Cooper: … Bell Features & Publishing Co. Black & white.
4: 51-56. 5: 51-56.
Dime Comics, …: “Kenneth Scotty MacDonald.” Car., Al Cooper: …. Commercial Signs of Canada. Black & white.
1-1, Feb. 1942: 44. 1-3, no date: 48-64.

Dime Comics, 1-6, no date: “ Kenneth Scotty MacDonald”: Car. Al Cooper : 52-63. Bell Features & Publishing Co. Black & white.

Dime Comics … no date: “Scotty McDonald”. Car., Al Cooper: … Bell Features & Publishing Co. Black & white.
9: 53-64. 10: 53-63. 13: 47-55 17: 18-23. 18: 18-23. 19: 42-47. 20: 19-23. Finished.

Cover front:

Active Comics,12, no date: “


Article book:

Heroes Of The Home Front. Writ., Ivan Kocmarek. North End Books, 2018: “Al Cooper”: 75-91.

Article periodical:

Active Comics, 13: 17. See below.

Joke Comics. 23, no date: “Welcome Home Gang”: 27.


Globe and Mail, 23 Oct.1982: “Whatever Happened to …?” Writ., Peter Harris: Fanfare 7.

Toronto Star, 9 January 1986: “Albert (Al) Cooper, 60 drew Canadian comics.” Obituary.


A picture containing text, book Description automatically generatedActive Comics, 6, no date: “Tanks”: 63.

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\C\COOPER AL, Active, 12, 22.jpgActive Comics, 12: 22.

Bell kept its readers informed about the artists.

A picture containing text Description automatically generatedActive Comics, 13: 17. Illus., Al Cooper.

2 thoughts on “COOPER Albert

  1. Hi Jim,

    I’m Robert’s step-son Scott. I’ve been putting together this website for him and I’m still in the process of adding his entries. Keep checking back for updates. Thanks,


  2. Hi Jim
    I’m just taking over the web site from Scott and hope to install the rest of it in the next few months. Please bear with me though. There are 1800 + entries to go.

    I opened this site that I might fill in my own gaps in information, and so I welcome comments. As you can see I list sources for my information and so I would like any information sent to have a source whether it be personal experience or an identified source such as you offered.

    Thanks for your kind comments and your information on Al.


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