In Memoriam: David Ashford, British Comics Historian

British comics historian and actor David Ashford. Photo courtesy Steve Holland
British comics historian and actor David Ashford. Photo courtesy Steve Holland

We’re very sorry to report the passing of writer and actor David Ashford, one of the leading historians of British comics, a great loss to our community.

David, who collaborated with Steve Holland, editor and publisher of Bear Alley Books on a number of books, died on Thursday (17th December).

“He had been suffering from cancer for some months,” Steve informs us, “and, in the end, was hospitalised with pneumonia.

“Frail, but not in pain, he had been positive through his last few months and, while he seemed to respond to antibiotics, he didn’t have the strength to fight on.

“David was one of the leading historians of British comics,” Steve continues, “and was a regular contributor to Golden Fun, The Illustrated Comic Journal and Antiquarian Book Monthly.

“He was the co-author of The Art of Roy Wilson [with Alan Clark] and co-compiler of numerous collector’s indexes covering many British comics from the 1940s and 1950s.

“In the early 1980s he scripted a number of adaptations of classic novels for Look and Learn. In 1990, he wrote introductions for two classic reprint series from Eagle, Riders of the Range and Harris Tweed, both published by Hawk Books.

“With his regular writing partner, Norman Wright, he compiled a variety of books, including Lightning, Swords and Smoking Pistols, The Thriller Comics Companion, Sexton Blake and Masters of Fun & Thrills.

The Fleetway Picture Library Index volume 2: The Thriller Libraries

“Our last book together was The Thriller Libraries index, but David continued to write extensively on comics for Book and Magazine Collector, Rare Book Review and Illustrators, most recently working on the Pirates special issue of the latter.”

The Comet Collectors Guide by David Ashford and Steve Holland

“Sad news indeed,” concurs downthetubes and Eagle Times contributor Jeremy Briggs. “David was always a help with UK comics articles when I asked.

““Being at the opposite end of the country I never met David, nor even spoke to him on the phone, but we e-mailed back and forth helping each other out on comics articles, him helping me rather more often than I helped him. Indeed it was David who allowed me to print for the first time the Airfix section of his and Norman Wright’s 1980s interview with Space Kingley artist Ron Jobson, and that lead to me now writing regularly for the Airfix Collectors Club’s Constant Scale journal.”

“He was also, whilst little known, a cast member of ITV’s Quatermass, Doctor Who‘s The Greatest Show In The Galaxy and, remarkably, the 1965 London play The Curse Of The Daleks.”

David will perhaps be best known to TV viewers for his six year run on ITV drama Crown Court, as barrister Charles Lotterby.

David Ashford as barrister Charles Lotterby in Crown Court. Image: ITV, with thanks to David Brunt
David Ashford as barrister Charles Lotterby in Crown Court. Image: ITV, with thanks to David Brunt
Janet Hargreaves (Mum), Kathryn Ludlow (Girl) and David Ashford (Dad), in a scene from the Doctor Who story The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988). Image: BBC
Janet Hargreaves (Mum), Kathryn Ludlow (Girl) and David Ashford (Dad), in a scene from the Doctor Who story The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988). Image: BBC

“Very sorry to hear this,” commented author Paul Duncan. “This is a great loss. David was a font of knowledge and always willing to share it.”

Our sympathies to David’s many friends and family at this time.

David Ashford, writer and actor, born 16th October 1941, died 17th December 2020

Read Steve’s full tribute here on Bear Alley

Books by David Ashford on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• David Ashford’s recollections of his work on Doctor Who feature in Celestial Toyroom 486

IMDB – David Ashford: Full Acting Credits

Our thanks to Steve Holland from Bear Alley Books for permission to repost his announcement of David’s passing.

Thanks also to David Brunt for the information on David’s role in Crown Court

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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