He Did Get Far (not) On Foot
July 25, 2010 5:55 PM   Subscribe

 
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posted by tristeza at 6:00 PM on July 25, 2010


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I remember running into his books of work in high school and thought they were great.
posted by mrbill at 6:01 PM on July 25, 2010


Oh man. I read his memoir a million years ago and have loved him ever since. Sorry to see him go.
posted by serazin at 6:02 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case there is any confusion of the use of the "(not)" in the title, I meant it as paraphrasing his now OUT OF PRINT?!? autobiography "He Won't Get Far on Foot" as "He Did Get Far" but not "On Foot".
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:05 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It doesn't look out of print; one-click on Amazon and it would be here on Wednesday.
posted by mrbill at 6:07 PM on July 25, 2010


My favorite among his work depicts a psychiatrist in a stereotypical psychoanalysis setting pulling a lever to raise the head of the couch and dump a patient through a hole in the floor. The balloon coming from the psychiatrist's mouth reads "YOU'RE TOO FUCKED UP!"

I think about that one sometimes when I read Ask Metafilter.

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posted by Mayor Curley at 6:07 PM on July 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yay! (I already have the book myself; Callahan's own website said it was out of print so I didn't investigate further)
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:12 PM on July 25, 2010


aw dammit. his work was so painfully hilarious, so hilariously painful.
posted by availablelight at 6:12 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by pwb503 at 6:13 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by brundlefly at 6:21 PM on July 25, 2010


My favorite single-image by him was the bandaged-up accident victim jumping out of a cake at a lawyers' party; all the lawyers were cheering, naturally.
posted by Lukenlogs at 6:23 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was so sorry to hear this. He wasn't old.

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I had his books as a teenager, back when that kind of black humor wasn't quite that easy to find. A favorite of myself and family is the fly spreading his morning toast from a tub labeled, "I Can't Believe It's Not Shit!"

To this day, it's a toss-up as to whether I was more bewildered to find out that Jhonen Vasquez or that John Callahan had made a children's cartoon.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:27 PM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


His cartoons never failed to make me laugh out loud -- sorry to hear this...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:28 PM on July 25, 2010


Ugh. So sad to hear this. "Digesting the Child Within" is one of my favorite cartoon collections.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:30 PM on July 25, 2010


Used to see him regularly in NW Portland.

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posted by jgaiser at 6:31 PM on July 25, 2010


There's black humor, and then there's Callahan... I'll miss that bastard.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking about him a few weeks ago. I still chuckle remembering his cartoon of the guy, his landlord now gone, lifting the cat in scuba gear our of the toilet tank.
posted by phearlez at 6:38 PM on July 25, 2010


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Loved the guy. Such a hilariously bleak sense of humor.

He wrote an article for Harper's about how fucked up the aid for the disabled system is long, long ago. It was quite an eye-opener.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:38 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are, erm, were the same age. Talk about an intimation of mortality.

Another Irishman who would not let life beat him down. May you be in heaven before the devil knows you're dead, John.

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posted by rdone at 6:46 PM on July 25, 2010


Few things have made me laugh as hard as "He Won't Get Far on Foot."

59 is way too soon. So long, John.

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posted by FfejL at 6:49 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by tristeza at 9:00 PM on July 25


Appropriate comment and commenter are appropriate.

it was misanthropic love at first sight when i first discovered him, but then i had kids and i just couldnt deal with his humor and post-partum depression. but John Callahan is one the greatest cartoonists of this country and not just of his generation.

now off to buy bunch of books to share our misanthropic love with my kidlets :)

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posted by liza at 6:57 PM on July 25, 2010


RIP, dude. Will miss seeing you around town.

My favorite panel of his is still the dog security guard. "I'm sorry, sir, but regulations require me to sniff your butt."
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:58 PM on July 25, 2010


From what I've heard about the way he abused his body before and even after his accident, I'm surprised he lasted this long. But I'm sorry to hear it any way.

And my favourite of his cartoons that I have seen depicted some white-sheeted KKK members mining coal in hell while Satan stands guard over them with a pitchfork, and Satan is saying, "By the way, gentlemen, perhaps I forgot to mention that it's Black History Month.... FOREVER!!!"
posted by orange swan at 6:58 PM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Digesting the Child Within" is one of my favorite cartoon collections.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:30 PM on July 25



YES! he totally outdid Gary Larson, and with humans, on that one. love that book!
posted by liza at 7:00 PM on July 25, 2010


This hate mail is great:
Dear Sirs:

I am currently a guest at a htel [sic] in Boston, where these is a card store in the lobby. I noticed a highly distasteful and absolutely DISGRACEFUL postcard on the shelf. it was a John Callaham [sic] card that showed a group of cowboys in the dirt, with an empty wheelchair. The caption read "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot".

My Brother sits in a wheelchair, a quadrapalegic [sic], as a result of a diving accident at 19. Until Mr. Callahan can understand the emotions behind such a life of struggle, I feel he should not fell to freely about poking fun at the disabled. I find your marketing of his insensitivity positively DISGUSTING!

Sincerely

Allison F
Boston
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:03 PM on July 25, 2010 [19 favorites]


If he could, he would come out with "The Lighter Side of Being Dead."
posted by Danf at 7:09 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite panel of his is still the dog security guard. "I'm sorry, sir, but regulations require me to sniff your butt."



HAHAHAHA I absolutely love that one. Especially since I started working in security.


I remember seeing his I Think I Was An Alcoholic and being struck by how it was both honest and tragic and really funny.


That's not an easy thing to do.


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posted by louche mustachio at 7:11 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


My folks had a copy of "Do Not Disturb Any Further" when I was a kid. What a shame. He'll be missed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:12 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by contessa at 7:13 PM on July 25, 2010


How did I never know this guy existed? I too would have written him hate mail, but only because I love him.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:13 PM on July 25, 2010


That's too bad. He drew some funny cartoons.
posted by marxchivist at 7:16 PM on July 25, 2010


When you read his book, it becomes clear that he doesn't (didn't) think that quadraplegia was his problem. Alcoholism was his problem, and AA was the solution. His life was a lot happier after he gave up drinking, and I think that's why he was so upbeat.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:18 PM on July 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


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I wasn't aware of him, which is a shame because his comics are hilarious. I just showed the "This is a feminist bookstore! There is no humor section!!!" one to my roommates in women's studies. It's probably our (first) new official house comic.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:32 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


That is a sad loss! Callahan never disapointed. 'Was it as good for me as it was for me' was pretty dn funny.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:34 PM on July 25, 2010


My favorite of Callahan’s Bush-era cartoons.
posted by blueberry at 7:38 PM on July 25, 2010


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I liked his stuff a lot & still have my copy of Do Not Disturb any Further on my shelves.
posted by mogget at 7:57 PM on July 25, 2010


I acquired my first Callahan book "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" at University, and was amused by how visitors to my room would flip through it casually and run the gamut of reactions from shocked, SHOCKED to repressed giggles while saying "That's not funny."

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posted by Soliloquy at 8:01 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by quazichimp at 8:04 PM on July 25, 2010


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Oh, man. I loved Callahan's work.
posted by Miko at 8:05 PM on July 25, 2010


I also always liked the fly with a sandwichboard that read "WILL WORK FOR SHIT"
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:05 PM on July 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh my god . . . I've been trying to figure out his name for years. Someone (my parents? my grandparents?) had a copy of "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" that I read as a kid. It was one of the first dirtyish books I ever read.


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posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 PM on July 25, 2010


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He spoke at my high school once and was probably the most insightful and least appropriate speaker we ever had. He'll definitely be missed.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:22 PM on July 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Please, please someone please tell me that his cartoon titled "The difference between New York and LA" is somewhere online.

[The scene is split in two: in the first half, two guys walk past each other with palm trees in the background. One of the guys says to the other, "Have a nice day!" but the thought bubble coming out of his head says, "Fuck you!". In the second panel, two guys walk past each other with skyscrapers in the background. One of the guys says to the other, "Fuck you!" but the thought bubble coming out of his head says, "Have a nice day!"]
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:24 PM on July 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Although apparently out of print, The King of Things and the Cranberry Clown is a marvelous kids book--kind of like "Oh, the Places You'll Go" in the way it tells a fable that is entertaining to children while conveying a much deeper allegorical meaning to adults. All in a typically sly, funny and clever Callahan way.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:31 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by dlugoczaj at 8:41 PM on July 25, 2010


Man, I loved his stuff so much as a kid. It was like a good cup of strong black coffee--bitter as hell, but delicious all the same. Like reading Steven Jesse Bernstein if he'd been a cartoonist. This news makes me sad.

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posted by saulgoodman at 8:50 PM on July 25, 2010


Oh, man. My first encounter with his work was two members of the Ku Klux Klan leaving their home, and the caption says something like "Don't you love it when they're all fresh and warm from the dryer?"

Horrific. I couldn't stop laughing.

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posted by tzikeh at 8:53 PM on July 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by jabo at 8:55 PM on July 25, 2010


I liked his cartoons.

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posted by Ratio at 8:56 PM on July 25, 2010


I was just thinking about him a few weeks ago. I still chuckle remembering his cartoon of the guy, his landlord now gone, lifting the cat in scuba gear our of the toilet tank.

Heheh. One of my favorites. Here.
posted by Ratio at 9:07 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing his I Think I Was An Alcoholic and being struck by how it was both honest and tragic and really funny.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:11 PM on July 25


I remember that from the print version. There was something about the dolphin calling to him, "You've got a problem, Callahan!" that I've always found inexplicably hilarious.

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posted by LinnTate at 9:15 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by Songdog at 9:27 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by jquinby at 9:42 PM on July 25, 2010


Sad to think he won't be zipping around NW Portland anymore.
posted by Skwirl at 9:46 PM on July 25, 2010


Oh crap.
He was the first celebrity I ever met, too, down in Clackamas while I was working my very first retail job. He had multiple copies of the TV Guide with listings for Pelswick, and he handed a signed one to me. I still have it, and I had sorta gotten used to seeing that shock of pinkred hair popping up every now and then around Portland.


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posted by redsparkler at 9:56 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Callahan cartoon that still makes me chuckle was one with a fly eating a Bit-o-Shit candy bar.
posted by vespabelle at 10:01 PM on July 25, 2010


More often than not, his panels didn't work for me, but of all the people who claim not to have sacred cows, I think he walked-the-walk most genuinely, to use a terribly inappropriate turn of phrase. Which is appropriate for Callahan. He produced some cartoons about rape, or pedophilia, or racism, or god knows what, that were so dry you just had to take it on faith that there was a joke buried in there somewhere, if only you were sick enough, or dark enough, or twisted enough to see it. Sometimes you could feel pretty good about yourself for not understanding a Callahan gag.


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posted by mumkin at 10:06 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by spinifex23 at 10:43 PM on July 25, 2010


damn.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 10:43 PM on July 25, 2010


My two favorite Callahan cartoons have already been listed by commentors. "Won't get far on foot" and "I love it when they are warm from the dryer" are two of the best cartoons ever drawn by a human being.

He was, and will continue to be, one of the greats. He left this world a richer place for having been here.

Sad to see you go, man.
posted by Xoebe at 10:48 PM on July 25, 2010


Well shit. I grew up reading Callahan on the editorial page of the Willamette Week; I never actually met the man but it was a constant pleasure to think that Portland was still legitimately weird at least to the degree that he was around and periodically pissing off portions of WW's readership (and probably considered unprintable by the Trib's) with his awful wonderful little panels.
posted by cortex at 11:01 PM on July 25, 2010


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:02 PM on July 25, 2010


Please, please someone please tell me that his cartoon titled "The difference between New York and LA" is somewhere online.

I couldn't find it on a Google image search. So I fixed that. sorry about the dusty scanner.

This post is very MeFic for me. I bought a postcard of that cartoon well over a decade ago, maybe two. Never mailed it. Didn't notice the artist. I had heard of the book, He Won't Get Far On Foot, but had no idea who who wrote it. I've run into Callahan's cartoons over the years, enjoyed them, but never took note of the cartoonist, and didn't connect them with the postcard or the book.

This post brings three disconnected bits of knowledge and memory together, and gives them a face and a history. I learned something, and my world got a little larger. Thanks, oneswellfoop.

Sad that the occasion of it had to be the man's death.

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posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:32 PM on July 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Used to see him around Portland all the time. His shit flipped my lid when I was young. RIP, sir, RIP.





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posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:09 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by trip and a half at 2:17 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by brevator at 2:43 AM on July 26, 2010


Callahan was the only comic that would calm my nerves on those occasions when I remembered that The Far Side wasn't in the newspaper anymore.

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posted by lekvar at 2:53 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't be a fool, Billy!
posted by bwg at 3:10 AM on July 26, 2010


When this South Florida cracker moved to Portland in 1993 for a four year stint in that lovely city (awesome glorious culture shock!) I knew no one save my hubby and my cat. John Callahan's no-self-pity drawings and his presence in the city helped empower me to feel I could survive and thrive. I smiled like a madwoman whenever I saw him wheelchair-motoring it on down the sidewalk streets and when I read his cartoons in the local alternative paper. He never knew that of course, but it sure meant a lot to me. He was an inspiring man with his twisted truthful humor and his openness about his beautiful humanity. Heartfelt thanks, and peace and blessings to you, Mr. Callahan.

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posted by quietalittlewild at 3:21 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


My favorite is the long-haired, bearded protester with a sour look on his face, struggling to carry a giant, heavy sign that reads "UNFAIR".

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posted by shiny blue object at 4:27 AM on July 26, 2010


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It was a really bad day at our house when my mum found my Callahan books ...
posted by scruss at 4:51 AM on July 26, 2010


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Can't recommend his autobiography enough.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:33 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by tommasz at 6:20 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by pernoctalian at 6:26 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by phogirl at 6:39 AM on July 26, 2010


nthing his autobiography. Better than the Bible. no, not kidding
posted by jtron at 6:44 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always dug the Mental Hospital Xmas Choir ("Do You Hear What I Hear?") best.

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posted by jonmc at 6:59 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always thought of Callahan whenever I heard Skip Spence's "Cripple Creek." I used to make a point of picking up the free local just to laugh along with his brilliantly warped view. I guess I am surprised--given his history and disabilities--that he lasted this long, but the world is a little dimmer today.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2010




I didn't think I knew who he was till I recognized the inappropriate humour and drawing style from a mug I've had for years which features a choir of Asians singing "This land is your land, this land is my land...".
posted by Dragonness at 7:31 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by Faint of Butt at 7:35 AM on July 26, 2010


Yes, . and all that, but I have to tell you, I laughed out loud when I read the countess elena description of the cartoon with the fly spreading his morning toast from a tub labeled, "I Can't Believe It's Not Shit!"

What better praise for a cartoonist than this, that someone can read just a description of his cartoon and still lose his breakfast from laughing? I'd like to think that Callahan would be pleased with the way we remember him and the way he still makes us laugh.
posted by math at 8:24 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by condour75 at 8:37 AM on July 26, 2010


Bummer- I will miss him. Great wit and talent. Totally funny and off-beat.
posted by Dawg at 10:04 AM on July 26, 2010


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posted by Brody's chum at 10:18 AM on July 26, 2010


I thought "He Won't Get Far On Foot!" was an incredible read and had many of his cartoons that were my favorite (my mom's favorite, in particular, was of the ward that said "do not disturb any further. She was a psych nurse.). Godspeed, John Callahan.

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posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:22 PM on July 26, 2010


Cripes.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:33 PM on July 26, 2010




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posted by jlbartosa at 3:35 PM on July 27, 2010


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posted by klausness at 3:40 AM on July 28, 2010


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