John Callahan, RIP John Callahan, RIP

John Callahan, RIP

Portland cartoonist John Callahan, who had been quadriplegic since the age of 21, passed away yesterday at age 59. His crude, funny scrawls inspired two animated series: Pelswick and Quads. Here is an animated film he made in 1993 based on his struggle with alcoholism called I Think I Was an Alcoholic.

(Thanks, Ward Jenkins)

  • Wow.

    I feel better about being a talentless non-alcoholic now.

    Good night, Mr. Callahan, wherever you are.

  • Michael F.

    John Callahan was such a funny cartoonist who was never afraid. One of my favorites, it’s not a surprise that he’s gone but it’s still a shame.

    I wonder if Robin Williams is ever going to get around to that movie based on his autobiography; he has the rights to it.

  • Anthony D.

    I can’t belive the creator of Pelswick died. Pelswick was my favorite show growing up. I didn’t even know John Callahan was a quadriplegic.

    • Zach Cole

      Yeah, a lot of people didn’t know, and would be greatly offended by his jokes about quadriplegic people– not knowing that the jokes were his therapy for dealing with his disability! He had a dark, crass sense of humor. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • That’s sad news. I remember watching “Pelswick” on Nick years ago. I didn’t realize until few years ago that he also did raunchy print cartoons, some of which I actually enjoy.

    • On the subject of his raunchy drawings: before he died, he did a lot of nude life drawings of young Portland hipster chicks. They NEED to compile an art book of them. They’re just as twisted and crude as his cartoons. And occasionally, they’re kind of beautiful.

      btw, I promise this is my last reply/comment. Thnx.

  • I think I knew John. So sorry to hear he’s gone.

  • I wasn’t aware he’d ever animated his drawings. Very effective and funny. This one reminds me a little of Adam Elliot’s work.

    Robin Williams should make that film. If done without too much grandstanding and sentimentality, it could be both a worthy tribute and open a lot of eyes.

  • FP

    Huge fan, but I thought he died years ago because I’d seen no new cartoons. A long time ago I received his autobiography as a gift: DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT

  • I first became acquainted with Mr. Callahan’s wonderfully twisted sense of humor in the pages of the National Lampoon. He was a hoot.

  • I’m sorry to hear that he’s passed away.
    It’s strange, but I was just thinking about him this weekend, and the 60 Minutes interview I saw of him.
    A very talented guy, who never shied away from the fact that he caused his own misfortune.
    His cartoons in the National Lampoon were the greatest.

    • Never saw his Lampoon cartoons, or any of the other mags he did. But here in PDX, we have a local newsletter, Willamette Week, which he did one-panel cartoons for up until the day he died. It was always the first thing I’d turn to. I never got to tell him.

  • Bill

    My dad, who has been in a wheelchair for several years, is a big fan of Callahan. I would sometimes get a birthday card featuring his unique humor. Loved it.

  • Bill Perkins

    I enjoyed this more then at least a handful of animated feature films I’ve seen over the last years. Never met the man, was unaware of his work but I’m very sorry we’ve lost him. Great stuff

  • Brad Constantine

    He was honest to a fault. and never let anyone tell him what he could or couldn’t do. RIP John.

  • Norman

    Talk about making lemonade.

  • GhaleonQ

    I wasn’t always a fan of his work or personal opinions, but he demands respect.

  • “I’m going out to round up the chickens and take them to the pizza church” Anyone that can write that kind of dialog, will indeed be missed. Brilliant short film.
    No doubt you are walking again.

  • Rooniman

    Boy. I guess I show see his work if he created Pelswick.

    Sad loss.

  • This guy made some of the funniest comics I think I’ll ever laugh at. If you’re not familiar with any of his books, do yourself a favor and getta hold of one.

    Gone but definitely not forgotten.

  • Zach Cole

    As a Portland native, I am SO sad to hear this, especially two days after the fact.

    I spotted John pretty frequently around Portland. I never got to tell him how much I love his cartoons, and how (strangely) inspiring he was to me as a person.

    Also, he was an amazing songwriter. Tom Waits actually left an answering machine message on John’s machine, singing one of John’s songs.

    His albums are available here:

    Portland will miss this man.

  • terri

    he got around more than most people with 2 legs.what a dynamic personna!