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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Passing of a provocateur

John Callahan, the hard-hitting Portland-based cartoonist whose edgy work offended some and entertained many others, has left us at the age of 59. That he could get away with his extreme incorrectness is in itself a tribute to how much he made his audience think.

Comments (13)

This is very sad. John Callahan was a creative genius. I had the occasion to get to know him several years ago. One of the most interesting people I have ever met.

He managed his quadriplegia like few others. He hated being treated like a victim. His email address was AntiQuad@...

He will be remembered.

The first cartoon I ever saw of his I saw in Chicago, in a greeting card shop. Pictured was a stern looking woman behind a counter, caption: "This is a feminist bookstore. There is no humor section."

He will be remembered.

That's too bad. He was anti-PC and very funny. I used to see him up on 23rd a lot. Too young, he will be missed.

I used to see John riding around 23rd Avenue all the time in the mid-90s when I was living in the neighborhood and working at the (now-defunct) Music Millennium.

Here is the cover of one of his books, which features my all-time favorite Calahan cartoon.

Note the Gary Larson quote on the cover of the book:

"He makes my own work look normal."

High praise, indeed.

He searched for reason
and he searched for rhyme,
and he searched the heavens
for one last time.

Then he closed his eyes,
and tipped his chair,
and he held his breath
and he fell somewhere.

And he fell so far
and he fell so high
that all he could say
was "Goodbye, goodbye!"

So far and so high
so where and so why…

And all he could say
was "Goodbye, goodbye!"

From Callahan's book, The King of Things and the Cranberry Clown
click here to see entire book


I loved his work and clipped several and keep them in my desk drawer. My favorite is the one with a guy cooking in a food cart and the sign over it said "Terets Syndrome Cafe". The cook is saying to a customer "You're order will be up when I shout motherf****er".

Callahan helped define Portland's true modern character as a city, as a place. How fortunate Portland was to have him. What a remarkable guy. Callahan's expansions of and contributions to the world's comedy legacy will be legendary. [insert irreverent Callahan captioned line drawing response here].

How sad! I haven't yet read the story, but thank you for calling attention to it. John's work is one of the things that bridges the Portland that I grew up in, and left after high school, with the Portland I moved to in '05.

May I recommend his album, Purple Winos in the Rain?

Whatever happened to that movie he kept talking about that was going to be made about his life? As I recall, Robin Williams was cast as the lead...

He will be missed. He has been a Portland fixture for a long long time. Another one lost.

Whatever happened to that movie he kept talking about that was going to be made about his life? As I recall, Robin Williams was cast as the lead...

Oregonian said Robin Williams owns the rights to Callahan's story but nothing has been done with the project to date.

Couldn't anyone have helped him to avoid death by complications from bed sores?

Callahan will not be replaced, he will be missed. This is just too sad...

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