Callahan, John

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American cartoonist

Callahan was born to an unmarried woman in Portland, Oregon, and adopted as a baby by a childless couple who then had five birth children. He felt an outsider in his family and began to abuse alcohol.

When he was 21 he was drunk and a passenger in his own car, being driven by a drunk friend, who crashed the car, leaving Callahan a quadriplegic. At first bitter, he eventually came to terms with his condition, stopped drinking, and has become a syndicated cartoonist, famous for his wicked sense of humor and willingness to tackle taboo subjects and sacred cows.

In 1983 he began the search for his birth mother, defying official and family opposition. Eventually he located her sister and discovered she was dead, as was his birth father. He also contacted her children by her later marriage. In addition to the story of his search for his birth family (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot), he has published a number of collections of his cartoons, including Digesting the Child Within, and Other Cartoons to Live By (1991), Do Not Disturb Any Further (1990), Do What He Says! He's Crazy! (1992), Freaks of Nature (1995), and King of Things and the Cranberry Clown (1994).


Wentz, Patty. "Q&A Interview: John Callahan." [Includes portrait]. Willamette Week, 12 April 2002, Also available at:
Callahan, John. "Callahan Online: About John Callahan." Available at:
Callahan, John. Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot. (New York: Morrow, 1989)


20th Century
21st Century
Art, Architecture, Planning
Addiction or Abuse (drugs, Alcohol or Gambling)
Medical Problems, Chronic Illness
Formal, American/European-Type Adoption
Birth or Infancy
Unmarried Mother, Single Parent (Mother or Father) Unable to Cope
Others ("Strangers")
Adoptive/Foster Family Included Birth Child(ren)
Unmarried Mother
Adoptee/Fosteree Traced Family
Contact Suspended or Stopped
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