EXPIRED: 07/24/10 – John Callahan, 59, was a drunk at the age of 21. The kid from Southern California would spend most days either drinking, drunk or hungover and looking to kill the burn with a hair of the dog.
July 22, 1972 was no different. Except on that day, he and a friend – in search of the next party to crash – slammed their car into a telephone pole at 90 mph. Callahan’s spine was severed. He was a C5-6 quadriplegic. And even this didn’t stop him from drinking.
After 6 years his rage-infused drinking got him kicked out of a nursing home, and he burned thru more night nurses than you can shake a stick at. Attempts to off himself didn’t help when the nurses forgot to leave the childproof cap off the damn-bottle-of-valium-like-they-were-asked-to-thank-you-very-much!
Then he finally met his match. A butch disabilities-transport van driver cursed him out for being an asshole. He was humiliated. When he got home he drew a cartoon of a construction site surrounded by a security fence, with a sign: WARNING! THIS AREA PATROLLED BY LESBIANS.
And that was that.
Holding a pen between two clenched fists, Callahan’s sick sense of humor could offend virtually every conceivable group and generated tons of hate mail when his cartoons were published in the local Portland, Oregon newspapers. But they were popular. So much so tat his work started to get picked up in Hustler and The New Yorker.
By 1989 he published an autobiography entitled Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot which detailed his accident, his alcoholism, molestation he encountered as a child and his search for his birth mother.
The quadriplegic became a celebrity. Robin Williams took out an option on the script, although he never made a movie of it (thank god!)
A more recent memoir is titled Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up?. And even greater success came his way with 2 animated cartoons based on his work. The first, Pelswick, is a kid’s show on Nickelodeon and the other is called Quads, which is more suited for adults as it’s terribly politically incorrect.