John Callahan (February 5, 1951, Portland, Oregon – July 24, 2010), was a cartoonist, artist, and musician noted for dealing with macabre subjects and physical disabilities.
Callahan became a quadriplegic in an auto accident at 21.The accident happened in Callahan's car after a day of drinking alcoholic beverages. His car was being driven by a man with whom he was bar hopping. Following his accident, he became a cartoonist, drawing by clutching a pen between both hands. His visual artistic style was simplistic and often rough, although still legible. It has been likened to that of William Steig, James Thurber, Richard Condie, and Ben Wicks.
Callahan's cartoons dealt with subjects often considered taboo. His black humor may be exemplified by the title of his "quasi-memoir", Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up?. The subject matter and treatment of his cartoons shares something with the work of Charles Addams, Gahan Wilson, and especially Charles Rodreguis, although it is much more aggressive than even the Playboy cartoons by these cartoonists.
Two animated cartoon series have been based on Callahan's cartoons: Pelswick, a children's show on Nickelodeon; and Quads, a Canadian-Australian co-production, which retains the violence, joie de vivre, and political incorrectness of his cartoons. The main character, who "walked out of a bar and into a car," as the theme song relates, is a quadriplegic who won a large settlement from the rich driver who ran over him, and lives in a mansion with his buxom girlfriend, gay Australian physical therapist, and a cast of fellow handicapees. Their outrageous adventures infuriate the neighbours, which include an angry nun, the milquetoast millionaire who originally ran over the main character, and his domineering, Joan Riversesque wife.
Friends said Callahan realized that his cartooning was a form of counseling, which led to him pursuing a master's degree in counseling at Portland State University. However, his deteriorating health prevented him from finishing his first term.
Callahan died on July 29, 2010, following surgery for chronic bed sores.
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