James Edwin McConnell was born in Bedlington, Northumberland, on 13 July 1903. He worked for a local blockmaker, then moved to London, following the same trade while studying part time at St Martin's School of Art. In 1933 he joined the Patridge Agency as a freelance illustrator.
His earliest work was in advertising and on book covers. After the Second World War he became one of Britain's leading paperback cover artists, particularly associated with western and crime novels. In the 1950s he painted covers for Super Detective Library, Western Library, Thriller Comics and Cowboy Comics. In the 1960s painted numerous illustrations and covers for Look and Learn, Ranger, The Bible Story and Hurricane annuals. He also contributed to Lion.
He contributed to the artwork in the American Roll of Honour in the American Chapel in St. Paul's Cathedral. An exhibition of his western artwork was held at the Association of Illustrators Gallery in London in 1976. He died in Surrey on 4 May 1995.
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 101
- Peter Richardson, James McConnell - The UK's Very Own Pulp Artist, Cloud 109, 23 August 2011
- James E. McConnell at The FictionMags Index