Edward Albert F. Holmes was born in London on 29 January 1916, the son of Thomas H. Holmes and his wife Emily E., née Auton.
He joined the Amalgamated Press in 1938 as sub-editor of the story paper Wild West Weekly under editor Hedley O'Mant. Observing the popularity of American comics, Holmes tried to convince the AP to publish an adventure comic, and was given the editorship of a new title, Knock-Out, launched in 1939 with a mixture of humour and adventure strips and prose stories. He imported two of the AP's most popular characters, Sexton Blake and Billy Bunter, from the story papers, and recruited D. C. Eyles, Eric Parker and Fred Bennett, story paper illustrators he had worked with on Wild West Weekly, to draw the adventure stories, and sub-editor Leonard Matthews recruited Beano artist Hugh McNeill to draw humour strips. Holmes served in the RAF during the Second World War. He returned to his position in 1946 and continued the policy, begun by wartime editor Percy Clark and Matthews, of including adaptations of classic children's adventure novels, bringing in artists such as Mike Hubbard to draw them.
Paper rationing meant cutbacks in the number of comics the AP were publishing in the UK, but Australia and New Zealand had no such shortages, and in 1948 Holmes was put in charge of creating comics to be published there, featuring new material as well as reprinted British strips. After an abortive attempt at an anthology, Holmes created a line of single-character titles based on the format of American comics. These included two western titles, Kit Carson and Buck Jones, and a superhero title, Thunderbolt Jaxon, scripted by himself and Matthews from storylies by T. C. H. Jacobs and drawn by Hugh McNeill. In 1949 the AP purchased two comics, The Sun and The Comet, from J. B. Allen, and Holmes took over as editor of The Comet.
As paper rationing came to and end, he proposed a new title to publish his Australian material for the British market. The only presses available were those used to print the AP's pocket libraries, digest-sized story papers, so Holmes had the artwork re-sized and invested the "picture library" comic format, beginning with Cowboy Comics in 1949, and following it with Thriller Comics in 1951 and Super Detective Library in 1952.
He left comics in 1957 when he was offered the editorship of Everybody's magazine. He later took up a post with Christies, the auctioneers. He died in the third quarter of 2006 in Croydon, Surrey.
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 70
- Steve Holland, Look and Learn: A History of the Classic Children's Magazine, 2006
- Extracts from The Fleetway Picture Library Index Volume 2: The Thriller Libraries