Written 19 December, 2010
"Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot!"
I recently discovered cartoonist, musician, and artist John Callahan had passed away. He died 24 July of complications from surgery. He was 59 years old.
Callahan became a quadriplegic at age 21. He was barhopping with a friend who crashed his car.
Afteward, he became a cartoonist. He held his pencil with both hands. His visual style was shaky and sometimes simplistic, compared to that of James Thurber, and his humor was dark, often dealing with taboo subjects.
Wikipedia notes that his work has been compared to that of Charles Addams, Gahan Wilson, and Charles Rodrigues. That analysis is spot-on. I own books by all three (and one by Callahan), and I had already noted the similarity of theme.
I'll do a post to follow about Addams, Wilson, and Rodrigues. I'm sure you'll recognize their work.
Callahan's politically incorrect cartoons offended the sensibilities of some critics, but disabled people loved his work.
Callahan was also a musician, with one album released-- Purple Winos in the Rain. Two animated television series carry his work to a video audience: Nickeloden's Pelswick...
... and the Canadian-Australian production Quads.
Callahan's most famous cartoon is reproduced at the top of this blog.
I was sad to read of Callahan's death, first, because I admired him, and second, because he once illustrated one of my short stories when it appeared in a national magazine.
So here's to you, John Callahan. You lived life on your own terms, not letting your disability slow you down, and you left a body of work for which you will be remembered. And wherever you are, I know...
... you won't get far on foot.