Erickson has appeared in thousands of schools, from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, and has been a popular speaker at conventions of teachers, librarians, and homeschoolers. And, in 2019, John was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.
Hank the Cowdog made his debut in the pages of The Cattleman, a magazine for adults, and when Erickson started getting “Dear Hank” letters, he knew he was onto something. So, in 1983, he self-published 2,000 copies of The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, and they sold out in 6 weeks.
When teachers began inviting Erickson to their schools, Hank found his most devoted fans. Teachers, librarians, and students alike love Hank. According to some Texas Library Association surveys, the Hank the Cowdog books are the most popular selections in many libraries’ children’s sections. The lively characters make excellent material for reading and writing lessons, and turn even the most reluctant readers into avid Hank-fans.
Erickson lives near Perryton, Texas, where he and his wife live today on their working cattle ranch. They have 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren. His advice to young writers is, “Write about something you know. Try to leave your readers better off than they were before.”
The Hank the Cowdog series…
- Began in 1982 as a self-publishing venture in John Erickson’s garage, and has become one of the nation’s most popular series for children and families.
- Has sold over 9 million copies.
- Has become a name brand, trusted by teachers, librarians, and parents, and all 75 books are in the Accelerated Reader Program.
- The Hank the Cowdog books have been translated into Chinese, Danish, Farsi, Spanish and most recently in Latin.
- The Hank books weren’t originally intended for children (the original audience consisted of adults involved in agriculture) until teachers and librarians requested that he visit their schools to read passages from the books aloud to students.
- Performs Hank programs in hundreds of schools, libraries, and at home school conventions around the U.S., and has recorded all 69 Hank books as audio books, doing the voices and songs himself.
- Has written and published two Hank books per year since 1983.
- Worked as a ranch cowboy from 1974 to 1981, and he now operates his own cattle ranch near Perryton, TX.
- Received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas (B.A. in Liberal Arts)
- Has received several awards for his stories including: the Audie, Lamplighter Awards, Oppenheimer, and Wrangler.
- Has written and published 82 books and over 500 articles, is best know for his Hank the Cowdog series of books, audio-books and stage plays.
Praise for Hank the Cowdog
“The Lone Star State’s best-known canine.” – The Houston Chronicle (2017)
“…Most of us on the American-Statesman web desk grew up avidly reading the “Hank” books,..The iconic children’s series, written by Texas author John R. Erickson, turns 35 this year. With a 70th book on the way in September, there’s no stopping this crime-fighting ranch dog.” – The Austin American-Statesman (2017)
“John Erickson—a 73-year-old rancher who also writes the best-selling Hank the Cowdog children’s book series about a smelly but lovable cowdog that lives on a Panhandle ranch…” – Texas Monthly (2017)
“Hank is the self-proclaimed head of security on a ranch, a canine Inspector Clouseau with a penchant for creative wordsmithing as he narrates his misadventures. “Hank the Cowdog has never aspired to ordinarity,” Hank once said. Three decades after the dog’s debut, there are more than 60 Hank books and a couple of dozen other books from Erickson.” – The Dallas Morning News (2014)
“The best family entertainment in years.” – USA Today
It’s about time the Lone Star State stopped hogging Hank the Cowdog, the hilarious adventure series about a crime solving ranch dog. Ostensibly for children, the audio renditions by author John R. Erickson are sure to build a cult following among adults as well.” – Parade Magazine
“Knee-slapping funny and gets kids reading.” – Fort Worth Star Telegram
“Full of regional humor…vocals are suitably poignant and ridiculous. A wonderful yarn.” – Booklist
“A mixture of true life experiences, comedy, and adventure.” – Little Rock Arkansas Gazette
“A former regional favorite from Texas now hitting it big in the rest of the country is the Hank the Cowdog Series.” – Chicago Tribune
“For the detectin’ and protectin’ exploits of the canine Mike Hammer, hang Hank’s name right up there with those of other anthropomorphic greats…But there’s no sentimentality in Hank: he’s just plain more rip-roaring fun than the others. Hank’s misadventures as head of ranch security on a spread somewhere in the Texas Panhandle are marvelous situation comedy, his dogservations are so doggone right on that they are little jewels of chuckle, chortle, and guffaw.” – School Library Journal
“Looking for a tape that’s good, clean fun for your kids? Try Hank. This mutt in disguise is adorably pretentious and frequently fumbling, yet never knowing it. Dogdom’s Don Quixote. Nothing escapes his steely gaze – except, perhaps, the perfectly obvious.
In the audio versions, Erickson gives Hank a voice with a detective undertone – a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Maxwell Smart…Come to think of it, Hank’s personality is a cross between the two as well.
And it’s not just for kids; I enjoyed it all by my 40-year old self.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer