“There is absolutely nothing funny about a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Unless, of course, that person is John Callahan. For nearly a decade, this irreverent cartoonist has been shocking America with his own special brand of wicked humor. In the world of Callahan, nothing is sacred, nothing is taboo and nothing is funnier!” 
John Callahan was born in Portland, Oregon, in July 1951. At the age of twenty-one, Callahan was involved in a car accident that left him to live his life as a quadriplegic. After his accident, Callahan began to draw, by grasping his pen between his two hands, and has since become famous for his comical cartoons that appear regularly in many national newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.
Callahan’s cartoons generally include his darker sense of humor and are often considered to be inappropriate due to their lack of political correctness. Often directing comedy towards topics such as disability, race, gender, etc., Callahan is often criticized by those who are offended at his comics. Various people who have sent letters of complaint to both John Callahan and the newspapers that carry his cartoons describe his work to be “horrible”, “distasteful”, “offensive”, “disgraceful”, “irreverent”, and “disgusting”.
Despite the often prevalent disdain for Callahan’s dark and cynical sense of humor, Callahan’s ability to laugh at topics, namely disability, that are generally considered to be unacceptable to poke fun at can help provide people with disabilities an easy way to both come to terms with and accept their disabilities. In his book No Pity, Joseph P. Shapiro comments that John Callahan’s work helps contribute to the rise of disability culture and increases “bonding among disabled people.”
Because of the widespread distribution of Callahan’s cartoons, a large portion of the population is familiar with his work, including many people who do not have disabilities; these people without disabilities are given an opportunity to become more familiar with and further accept the disabled not solely because of the cartoon topics, but because they are created and drawn by somebody with quadriplegic. By encouraging the disabled community itself to be so comfortable with their own disabilities that they able to laugh at them, many non-disabled people may be able to follow suit and become more familiar with and more accepting to people with disabilities.
The effects of John Callahan’s work are not, however, limited to an adult audience. In 2000, Callahan released an animated television show called Pelswick to Nickelodeon, a children’s cable channel. The show depicted the daily life of a teenaged boy, Pelswick, who was in a wheelchair. The main character goes to school, has a family, has friends, goes through typical teenage struggles, and leads a life not unlike the average American teen. Through this show, disabled children could become aware of the fact that other people, especially other kids, were also disabled. By allowing the children to view another disabled child’s life alongside his peers who were not disabled, disabled children would be able to recognize that their disabilities were not something to be ashamed of or to feel secluded by. Additionally, children without disabilities watching the show were able to see that there was nothing inherently different about people with disabilities; they could see that Pelswick was able to live just as the other children did, making them more accepting to disabled children that they might encounter in their schools or later in their lives.
Overall, John Callahan’s cartoons, although often considered to be crude and inappropriate, along with his animations, not only help disabled people learn to accept and even embrace their disabilities, but also allow the non-disabled population to do the same.
 Shapiro, Joseph P. No Pity. Three Rivers Press, New York, New York: 1993. Pgs. 102-103