Happy birthday to the literary and martial arts master Joe R. Lansdale

Photo by Karen Lansdale

As probably the only person in the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame who has received an Edgar, ten Stokers, a Grandmaster of Horror, the British Fantasy, a Spur, and the Herodotus Awards, Joe R. Lansdale extraordinary output has included more than 40 novels, 400 shorter works, numerous comic books, and a handful of screenplays as well as devising the Shen Chuan Martial Science.

Things Get Ugly, cover by John Coulthart
Design by John Coulthart

His novels include The Drive-in (1988), The Nightrunners (1987), COLD IN JULY (1989), the Edgar Award-winning The Bottoms (2000), A Fine Dark Line (2002), FLAMING ZEPPELINS (2010) The Thicket (2013), the Spur-Award-winning Paradise Sky (2015), Jane Goes North (2020), More Better Deals (2020), and Moon Lake (2021). Beginning with By Bizarre Hands (1989), Lansdale’s numerous short stories, essay, and poetry have been collected in several volumes including Writer of the Purple Rage (1994), High Cotton (2000), Sanctified and Chicken Fried (2009), THE BEST OF JOE R. LANSDALE (2010), DEADMAN’S ROAD (2010), DEADMAN’S CROSSING (2013), Bleeding Shadows (2013), Miracles Ain’t What They Use To Be (2016),Terror is our Business (2018 with Kasey Lansdale), Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories (2020), Apache Witch (2021) and the forthcoming THINGS GET UGLY: THE BEST CRIMES STORIES OF JOE R. LANSDALE (2023). He’s edited 15 anthologies including Razored Saddles (1989 with Pat LoBrutto), Dark at Heart (1992 with Karen Lansdale), Weird Business (1995 with Richard Klaw), Retro Pulp Tales (2006), Cross Plains Universe (2006 with Scott Cupp), CRUCIFIED DREAMS (2011), and THE URBAN FANTASY ANTHOLOGY (2011 with Peter S. Beagle). As if this wasn’t enough, Lansdale has written comics for DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, and others.

Lansdale’s most famous creation is the unlikely duo of Hap and Leonard. Hap Collins is white, liberal, and even tempered. Leonard Pine, who is quick to anger, is black, conservative and gay. In a series of thirteen novels, beginning with Savage Season (1990) through The Elephant of Surprise (2019), and several novellas and short stories, the best friends encounter violence, racism, and adventure in their East Texas haunts. The often humorous tales have garnered much praise and a legion of devoted fans. Many of the Hap and Leonard novellas and shorter tales were collected in Veil’s Visit (1999), HAP AND LEONARD (2016), THE BIG BOOK OF HAP AND LEONARD (2018), and BORN FOR TROUBLE (2021). HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE (2018) and OF MICE AND MINESTRONE (2020) chronicled the young adventures of the duo, including the origins of their unique friendship. For three seasons, the pair were featured on the television series Hap and Leonard (2016-18), starring James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams.


Other works that have enjoyed the film treatment include Bubba Ho-Tep, Cold in July, “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,” “The Dump,” “Fish Night,” “The Companion,” and Christmas With the Dead, which Lansdale produced with a screenplay by his son, Keith. He has written many screenplays and teleplays, most notably for Batman: The Animated Series.
The documentary All Hail the Popcorn King (2019) explored the enduring legacy of Lansdale and his creations.

All of us at Tachyon wish champion Joe a happy birthday!