James Hudnall, Comic Book Writer, Dead at 61
Comic book writer James Hudnall died yesterday at the age of 61. Artist Matt Cossin, who was working with Hudnall on a new book, announced the news on Facebook, stating “James’ sister, Susan, has informed me that my good friend, writer and collaborator, James Hudnall, has passed away. James was one of the very few kind hearted, genuine people I have ever met. I still can’t believe it.”
James David Hudnall was born in Santa Rosa, California, on April 10, 1957. His parents divorced when he was two, and after his mother remarried a man in the US Navy, they moved to San Diego, where Hudnall attended Point Loma High School. After graduating, Hudnall joined the US Air Force in 1976, and was stationed in England. After being discharged, he attended Coleman College in San Diego, majoring in computer science.
It was during his return to the States that Hudnall became interested in writing for comics. He began working as a marketing director for Eclipse Comics in 1985, which published his first comic “Espers” the following year. The series, originally illustrated by David Lloyd (“V for Vendetta”), told the story of people with advanced psychic powers who had lived secretly among us for centuries, and went on to be published intermittently during the ’80s and ’90s by Marvel and Image.
Hudnall wrote several titles for Marvel, Malibu and DC, including “Alpha Flight,” “Godwheel” (Marvel and Malibu’s first crossover), and 1989’s “Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography” (illustrated by Eduardo Barreto and colored by Adam Kubert). He received an Eisner Award nomination in 1993 with artist Robert P. Ortaleza for the graphic novel “Sinking” (published by Marvel’s creator-owned imprint Epic), which told the story of a man’s descent into clinical paranoia and schizophrenia.
In 1993, Hudnall and artist Andrew Paquette created the six-issue series “Harsh Realm” for Harris Publications, which followed a PI searching for a wealthy couple’s son after he disappears into a virtual reality. The comic was turned into a TV show on Fox by X-Files creator Chris Carter in 1999, but Hudnall and Paquette had to launch a lawsuit against the show after it failed to credit them as its creators. The series fared poorly, and was canceled after nine episodes.
Afterwards, Hudnall veered away from writing comics regularly to focus on being a writing teacher, lecturer, publisher, and internet engineer. His more recent writing included the Humanoids series “Aftermath” (illustrated by Mark Vigouroux), ‘Blue Cat’ in David Lloyd’s online anthology “Aces Weekly,” and the prose novel Hell’s Reward, which was intended as the first in a fantasy series called The Age of Heroes.
In 2014, Hudnall had to have his right foot and then leg amputated because of diabetes, and opened a couple of successful GoFundMe pages (here and here) over the next few years to cover his expenses, including moving to a new home. He received an Inkpot Award at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, which he was able to accept in person. He passed away one day before his 62nd birthday.