James Hudnall, comic writer with a purpose, passes away at 61

Long-time comic book creator James Hudnall passed away on Tuesday.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Hudnall got his start in the comic book industry in 1985 when he became the marketing director for Eclipse Comics, who published Hudnall’s first book ESPers in 1986. He would later work on titles for both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, including Alpha Flight, Strikeforce: Morituri, Action Comics, Superman, and Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography.

Hudnall co-founded the Ultraverse at Malibu Comics, penning Ultraverse Origins, Hardcase and Ultraverse Year Zero: Death of the Squad. He would also go on to write books at Image Comics including Solar Lord and The Psycho.

Hudnall was nominated for an Eisner award for Sinking, a fictional biography of a schizophrenic. He received an Inkpot Award in 2017 in recognition of his career in comics.

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Hudnall’s legacy also extends to other media, as he was instrumental in introducing Japanese Manga to English-speaking audiences, including working on Area 88 while at Eclipse and translating several popular manga series for VIZ Media including Silent Mobius. In 1998, Hudnall’s Harsh Realm was adapted into a television series by X-Files producer Chris Carter. In 2009, Hudnall worked for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood which later became Breitbart News, and also contributed to the Libertarian-leaning website PJ Media.

More recently, Hudnall had taken to YouTube to create a video series titled Creative Secrets, in which he shared tips and advice for aspiring writers. He was also partnering with artist Matt Cossin to crowdfund an independent comic book project titled Agenda: Superheroes with a Purpose (which is still open as an Indiegogo in-demand store here).

Condolences to Hudnall’s family and friends.

1957-2019

Source: Bounding into Comics

One comment

  • James Hudnall was a good guy…
    I knew him less directly than many other people but our paths did cross and while I didn’t always agree with him on some things about comics and their philosophy — I’m more of a old school fantasy/whimsical superhero guy and he was more gritty/realistic in his outlook — he never shot me down for having an opinion different than his. He LOVED Dolan’s Batman trilogy which I absolutely despised and I’m sure he liked Man of Steel much better than I did! Huge difference of opinion there but I didn’t hate him for it! (I think I AM being borne out on popular opinion at least as far as Man of Steel is concerned. The sentimental crowd prefers Christopher Reeve to Henry Cavill and very few people think MoS was a faithful adaptation of Superman, or even very enjoyable, period. The worst word I could use for it are “joyless” and “uninspiring.” The 1978 Superman movie WAS “JOYFUL” and “INSPIRING.” THAT’s Superman regardless of how you feel about the characters’s plausibility.)
    I hadn’t talked with him in years because I went through my “own rough patch” where I just kind of closed up some relationships and moved on in life.
    I was sad to hear his health had turned for the worse a few years back. I was unaware of the diabetes problem but I had heard about 18 months ago he had his right leg amputated which was very unfortunate. I know he had some issues (but I never heard the “d” word from him) and that he had tried to manage his health better. I was aware of the impact of the loss of a very good friend years back (Toren Smith) and a more recent death of a friend, Batton Lash.
    I know for a fact that Smith’s death was devastating to him and Lash’s recent passing (January this year I think) could not have helped his situation. If you’ve ever lost family, even a pet, you know how devastating it is and you’re never the same. Sometimes it comes at a VERY bad time and you let things go that you shouldn’t…

    More recently, before I saw the notice of his death on a comic website, I had seen his post of a review of the old anime series Space Runaway Ideon on The Right Stuf retail website. (I had been thinking of getting that series on Blu ray because I HAD been hearing it was “interesting” and the show WAS created by Tomino one of Gundam’s co-creators.)
    A lot of people may not be aware of this but Hudnall was a part of early anime fandom in the EARLY 1980s, way before any OFFICIAL anime licensor was importing and translating anime faithfully. Companies like that did NOT exist until the late 1980s. Anyway, his group saw shows like Gundam, Ideon, and Macross DECADES before they were released uncut in the US by companies. Those were the days when they were importing tapes from service people or anybody overseas for whatever reasons who had taped Japanese shows. That was just how these animated series were seen before things like Voltron and Robotech hit big in TV syndication in US markets in the mid-1980s. (Oh, Hudnall did NOT like Robotech! I disagreed with him on THAT — I felt the show was far more faithful than he gave it credit for — but, oh well, that was one example where HE was the purist and I wasn’t!)
    He was also connected to and friends with guys like Toren Smith who was an early translator/faithful localizer of manga licensed for the US. Hudnall himself did English scripting for translated manga like Area 88 (Eclipse Comics?) and Silent Mobius (Viz Media). Toren Smith founded a company specializing in translations called Studio Proteus and made some decent money doing English transcriptions of Oh My Goddess (Dark Horse) among other manga before he retired early in the 2000s when the pace of translations was getting hectic and he felt he couldn’t keep up without sacrificing the quality of his work. He sold his company to Dark Horse and lived well in the last years of his life. Smith passed away in 2013.
    Smith himself was connected with anime in a neat way… While he lived in Japan, he befriended a few animators who formed the nucleus of what became Studio Gainax, the guys who later created Nadia, Secret of Blue Water and most famously, Neon Genesis Evangelion. There was a character in the legendary Gunbuster OVA series named after Toren Smith! This is way back in the late 1980s, well before Gunbuster was licensed for the US(which came about 5 years later—? I know it was originally subtitled and released on VHS by US Renditions which has since gone out of business. Gunbuster was most recently on US DVD by Bandai’s Honneamise label. Right now, Sentai’s Maiden Japan label has the Gunbuster feature film edit out on Blu ray but NOT the original OVA series. I have not watched the feature film edit of Gunbuster so I can’t say if the Toren Smith character DID survive the editor’s blade in the film version!

    Hudnall himself was at the peak of his comics career in the 1990s doing rewrites of English translations for Viz as well as working on comics for Malibu and DC Comics. He suffered setbacks in his comics career like most everybody else did in the mid-1990s and eventually drifted back into computers for his “day job” as a web developer if I remember correctly. He still did his own comics but he was self-publishing his own stories with artistic collaborators instead of doing work-for-hire for DC or Marvel. He had no illusions about those companies but the stuff EVS and Zack Meyer are doing now? He was self-publishing YEARS before those guys did. He NEVER had as much controversy as those guys have now (he was NOT confrontational and generally steered clear of fights) but I don’t think he was crazy about the direction the US comic book industry was going in, too. While I would NOT consider Hudnall a “radical” in EITHER extreme he was no tree-hugger, either! 😆

    (Dear God, I hope nobody takes that sentence the WRONG way but knowing this comic book industry and how 3/4 of the pros behave on Twitter now–!!!)

    RIP, James Hudnall.
    I wish I had talked with you at least one more time but sometimes we’re bakas…
    May you be sharing a beer in the sky with Toren whether you believe in heaven or not.
    Frankly, I WANT to believe. That’s more hopeful than just believing we become worm food and that’s all there is.

    Like

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