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John Callahan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: The Autobiography of a Dangerous Man (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Do Not Disturb Any Further (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Digesting the Child Within (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Do What He Says! He's Crazy! (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Night, They Say, Was Made for Love: Plus My Sexual Scrapbook (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
What Kind of a God Would Allow a Thing Like This to Happen?!! (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
The King of Things and the Cranberry Clown (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Freaks of Nature (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up?: A Quasi Memoir (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Get Down!! Dog Cartoons (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Levels of Insanity: Cartoons by Callahan (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best Comics of the Decade, 1980-1990 Volume One(1990)Description / Buy at Amazon

Cartoonist, musician, and artist John Callahan often drew on his personal struggles (he was both an alcoholic and a paraplegic) for humor. He was born February 5, 1951 and died July 24, 2010. He died due to respiratory problems after an operation for chronic bed sores. John was survived by his mother (Rosemary) and four siblings (Kevin, Teri, Mary, and Richard), who all live around Portland.

Callahan turned to drawing cartoons for emotional ventilation. Like pal Gary Larson, John made drawings with a gleeful appreciation of a lot of the macabre he saw in everyday life.

Because of his handicap, his art style was simple and sometimes rough, although was always legible. It has been compared to such artists as James Thurber, Ben Wicks, William Steig, and Richard Condie.

Not much is known about his biological parents. While he was an infant, he was adopted and grew up in The Dalles, with five siblings. He was in a Portland orphanage at the time, and was adopted by an elevator manager for a grain company, named David Cargill and his wife, named Rosemary. He went to a Roman Catholic high school, and became skilled at drawing caricatures of each of the nuns.

After graduating from high school, he worked first at a state mental hospital and then at an aluminum plant. John described young adulthood as aimless days of working surrounded by bouts of drinking. One of his friends once said that John’s drinking came closer to killing him than his accident did. The crash could have saved his life, the friend felt.

When he was eight years old, John was molested by a female teacher. His drinking started when twelve, as a way for him to hide the pain of this abuse. Later in life, he would make his home in Portland, Oregon.

He was pursuing a degree in the field of counseling at Portland State University, where he had gotten a bachelor’s degree. Deteriorating health kept him from completing his first term at the school.

“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot”, which is John’s first published book, has been adapted into a movie. It came out in the year 2018. The movie was directed by Gus Van Sant and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill.

The movie took thirty years to get made. Originally, the movie was going to star Robin Williams, who had bought the rights after discovering Callahan’s work. At one point, Callahan said that everyone would be dead before it got made.

Two cartoon series: “Pelswick” and “Quads” are based off his work. Quads retains much of the joie de vivre, violence, and political incorrectness of his work.

A documentary was made on Callahan by Simone de Vries (a Dutch filmmaker) in the year 2005 called “Touch Me Where I Can Feel”.

His cartoons deal with taboo subjects, and people either find his work to be outrageously hilarious or outrageously offensive. From the year 1983, until he died, his work appeared in Willamette Week, a Portland paper. The controversial nature of John’s work sometimes led to protests and boycotts against this paper.

His work appeared in many other publications, like: the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, the Utne Reader, The London Observer, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as many others. Many of these publications got used to getting letters that spoke of their objection to his work. He has written books for kids, besides his memoir and cartoon collections.

He would scoff at anyone who labeled his work politically incorrect, and felt only those in wheelchairs or hooks for hands were his compass. These are the ones that matter, not the ones who presume to speak on behalf of the disabled.

His album “Purple Winos in the Rain” featured music and lyrics he composed. He also played ukulele and harmonica, and did artwork for the album’s cover. The album was released in the year 2006.

“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” is the first stand alone book, which was released in the year 1989. In the year 1972, when John Callahan was 21 years old, he was in a car crash that made him a quadriplegic and his spine was severed. He was paralyzed from the diaphragm down. The driver of the car John was in was a guy (whom John barely knew) he had been drinking with. The guy drove Callahan’s Volkswagen into a utility pole, going ninety miles an hour.

Alcohol played a role in the crash, as he was a heavy drinker since he was twelve years old, and this crash could have led to the start of his downward spiral.

Instead, it lead him to a transformation. After he underwent some extensive physical therapy, he was finally able to grasp a pen in his right hand and do some rudimentary drawings. By 1978, he had sworn to never drink again, after going into Alcoholics Anonymous that same year, and started drawing cartoons.

For three decades, until he died in the year 2010, Callahan would become one of the most beloved and most polarizing cartoonists in the nation. His cartoons, that show off a wacky and occasionally warped sense of humor, push boundaries and poke fun at social conventions.

The book is a telling of Callahan’s life, moments range from the funny to harrowing, and features over sixty of his cartoons. It is a captivating view of things like disability, fame, art, and addiction.

The book is compulsively readable tale of how resilient the human spirit is, and is nothing is covered up. Fans of the novel like the fact that this is not the run of the mill touching and inspirational stories of a guy who is handicapped. It is gritty and dirty, quite simply laugh out loud funny journey through a guy’s trip to make a go of things while handicapped. The book is much shorter than all of the hilarity and misery that is packed into it. Is purely honest, awfully foul, and simply hilarious.

Book Series In Order » Authors » John Callahan

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