INTERVIEW: Shooting the shit with Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale may be the most prolific writer you haven’t heard of. Champion Joe (as his fans call him) has written everything from novels (The Drive-In), short stories (Bubba-Ho-Tep), screenplays (the animated Son of Batman film) and comic books  (DC/Vertigo’s Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo).

Photo courtesy of horror.org

Photo courtesy of horror.org

 

Lansdale even dipped his pen into a few episodes of the classic Batman: The Animated Series; he was the scribe behind the fan-favorite episode where Ra’s Al Ghul meets the aforementioned cult DC weird western character Jonah Hex and “Perchance To Dream,” featuring the Mad Hatter. He’s also no stranger to Hollywood adaptations, having Phantasm director Don Coscarelli bring Bubba–Ho-Tep to the screen staring Bruce fucking Campbell.

Last year saw Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson and Sam Shepard star in a film version of his crime novel Cold In July. SundanceTV’s excellent new country noir series, Hap and Leonard, is directly based on Lansdale’s longstanding series of books and will hopefully bring Lansdale a whole new legion of fans. Joe was nice enough to answer a few short questions, touching on the story behind his new show, his comic book fandom, watching superhero TV shows and his love of Bill Paxton.

TuffGnarl.com: Joe this is an exciting time for you. Not only do you have a new Hap and Leonard book out, Honky Tonk Samurai, but the debut of the TV Show based on the book series, Hap and Leonard, just premiered on SundanceTV. For those that might not have the pleasure of meeting your dynamic duo, can you give us a quick rundown?

James Purefoy as Hap (left) Michael K. Williams as Leonard (right)

James Purefoy as Hap (left) Michael K. Williams as Leonard (right)


Joe R. Lansdale: Oh man, they are friends from way back. One is white, heterosexual, liberal, and lacking ambition. He was a war resister and heavily involved in civil rights. The other is black, gay, conservative, a Vietnam War hero, and angry.

From what I have read and seen of the series, the first season of the show is pulled from the first book in the series, Savage Season. Is the plan to hopefully keep that pattern going, adapting each installment into a season?
That’s the plan. I hope they stick to it.

Copyright Joe R. Lansdale

Copyright Joe R. Lansdale

Is there one book or story, in particular you REALLY want to see on screen?
The Bottoms. Bill Paxton and I have been trying to get it made for  years

Copyright Joe. R. Lansdale

Copyright Joe. R. Lansdale

Any plans for something new and original with Hap and Leonard specifically for the screen?
No. I’m writing the books and may write scripts if there are future seasons.  There are short story collections coming out, and a sort of coming of age patchwork novel about Hap, that sometimes includes Leonard.

Hap and Leonard’s world is also filled with such great supporting characters. In my opinion you’ve actually created your own comic book type universe populated by such amazing players. We have Marvin Hanson, Vanilla Ride, Cason Stutter and Booger from the novel Leather Maiden are also part of this world and of course the one and only Jim Bob Luke (played perfectly by Don Johnson in the film adaptation of Cold In July). Any plans on bringing any of them into the show? How about bringing back Johnson for another round as Jim Bob?
They have discussed bringing Jim Bob onto the show in the future. I sure hope they do. Don Johnson is great. I’d love to see him back. Carson Statler, Vanilla Ride, I don’t know. I guess it would have to do with how long the series survives. May it’ll be hot and good for several seasons.

Don Johnson (left) & Michael C. Hall (right) in Cold in July

Don Johnson (left) & Michael C. Hall (right) in Cold in July

One thing I have always loved about your books is how you place these “quiet” moments amid all the mayhem and plot. Scenes with the boys eating lunch, reading, i.e. almost taking a calm before or during the storm. Do you see this happening or translating to the screen as well?
It already does in the series. I love that part of it. I don’t mind action, but I don’t want to read novel after novel with that sort of thing. I’m writing novels, not films, but the films can certainly be made from them. They’re more unique that way.

Can we expect more Hap and Leonard books? The latest, Honky Tonk Samurai ends on a bit of a cliffhanger if I say so myself…
Have to wait and see.

TuffGnarl.com is a pop culture website, and we cover all forms of entertainment. Are there any recent books/comics/films/music that you have especially loved?
The last films I liked were The Revenant, Spotlight, Bridge of Spies. I love watching The Flash, Arrow, though it’s getting heavy on flashbacks, and frankly the flashback story doesn’t interest me at all. I watch Gotham, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Legends [Of Tomorrow], but that one is losing me. Agent Carter is a favorite. I like but am not hot on Marvel Agents of Shield. The first season almost lost me, but when Bill Paxton was on the second, I was in.  They’ve kept me since, but I go back and forth. I love comics and love seeing them brought to life. My tastes are varied. No comics have knocked me for a loop lately. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, and rereading a lot of Hemingway, and Ray Bradbury’s early work, Charles Bukowski’s poetry.

Any last thoughts or words you want to shoot out to our readers?
Nothing special, other than thanks for supporting me over the years, those of you who have, and keep on enjoying fiction and cinema and comics.

Follow Joe Lansdale on Twitter at @joelansdale. For more information, visit his website at JoeRLansdale.com.

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Manny Gomez

Creative at Wizard Army
Manny Gomez is a freelance writer based out of Florida's west coast. He obsessively reads interviews, binge watches TV shows, loves comics, punk rock, movies, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, and the mythology of baseball. His best friend is a dog.

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