The Grease Trap

The Grease Trap

Twenty years have passed since Nacogdoches native Joe Lansdale published his first novel (Act of Love), and for all the critical kudos and fanatical devotion of a tirelessly loyal readership, the former East Texas tater baron and martial arts master has yet to secure a spot atop (or within) the Times bestseller list. Damn shame, really, since he's as deserving of popular success as any storyteller I can think of, but not all that surprising. Lansdale's worked the fertile, often bloody fields of his imagination like few others. His pine-tar 'n' good-ole-boy regional dialect recalls the loving attention to local color of Wisconsonite (and Arkham House founder) August Derleth or Stephen King's lovingly rendered Maine. His boneyard sense of humor is a bit Ambrose Bierce, a little Mark Twain, and his unflagging sense of moral outrage in the face of some splendidly awful subject matter feels like John Steinbeck meets Roger Corman at the Rocket Drive-In. The Ghost of Tom Joad, indeed.

Entirely apart from his myriad output of novels, short stories, and the occasional chapbook, Lansdale, an avowed lover of the comics medium, has also taken the occasional foray into what my grandma used to call "funnybooks." There's little, if anything, "funny" about Lansdale's comic adaptations from Austin-based Mojo Press, or his work resurrecting Seventies Western icon Jonah Hex for D.C./Vertigo, but his take-no-prisoners short fiction lends itself to the form with gleeful, savage abandon. No talking animals here, kids, unless of course you count that dead dog swinging from the back of that '64 Impala over there ("Night They Missed the Horror Show").

Here's the first page of Lansdale's story "The Grease Trap" drawn by Ted Naifeh and lettered by Darrin LeBlanc. It's from Atomic Chili: The Illustrated Joe R. Lansdale, copyright 1996 by Joe R. Lansdale and reprinted with his permission.

  • More of the Story

  • Lansdale's Revenge

    For umpty-some years now Joe Lansdale has been terrorizing the book world with radically weird, unsettlingly violent, and often indefinable short stories, novellas, and novels. What happens when he veers toward the mainstream?
  • Joe R. Lansdale Reviewed

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