If ever a character could properly portray so many positive characteristics, it’s Hank the Cowdog, one of the most popular literary characters among children and adults.
On Friday, John Erickson, creator and author of Hank and his 48 adventurous books, visited the Tahlequah Public Library to kick-off the library’s summer reading program with two singing and reading performances.
Erickson took the stage at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Carnegie Room at the library. More than 120 adults and children poured into the room for the first performance, and 150 for the second performance, all coming to hear Erickson perform tunes from “Hank the Cowdog” audio book series. Erickson played his banjo, and brought cheers and clapping for songs such as “Disorientution, It’s a Revolution,” “Life Would Be Sweet Without Rotten Meat” and a Latin version of “Glory To God In the Highest.”
Erickson was born in Midland, Texas, and raised in Perryton, Texas.
“I was raised in a musical home, in a musical town, in a musical church. I grew up with a lot of classical sacred music,” he said, a grin spreading across his face. “I get a lot of ideas from church. I don’t know if that’s a reflection on my minister or my short attention span.”
Erickson’s thrill of performing for children and adults allows parents to teach their children about reading.
“The best audience is one that has three generations in it,” said Erickson. “It can open up communication. Children can ask the adults, ‘What does this mean?'”
During the question-and-answer portion of the performance, one adult asked the Erickson if he had ever been approached about making a “Hank the Cowdog” movie.
“We did meet with Disney, but they wanted all rights to all characters,” Erickson said. “I’d end up with something like $10,000. Disney, they tried to mug me. We also met with Nickelodeon in 1998, but they didn’t like my writing, and when their script writers re-wrote it, Nickelodeon didn’t like that either. We were glad to get away from there.”
Erickson holds on to the hope of a movie being made. Currently, he is in talks with Walden Media, the company that made the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
“I’m waiting on someone who understands why I’m in Tahlequah, Okla., and not in Los Angeles,” Erickson said. “Until we find someone like that, who understands my audience, they can’t have it.”