The funniest man drawing comics today can barely hold a pen. John Callahan is the grandfather of gross cartoons, but they do more than shock. This quadriplegic ex-drunk is also a master at merriment. Don't let the wheelchair fool you, he can dance circles around most sourpusses who claim to have their hand on the pulse of America's funny bone.

But don't take our word for it, pick up one of the many collections of his yuk-filled doodles. The newest, Levels of Insanity (Ballantine Books) (Picture: ), is a good place to start. His crude line drawings mask a sophisticated humor that hits the gut and sends all manner of bodily fluids spewing from one's nostrils.

Callahan spoke with Mr. Skin via phone from his home in Portland, Oregon, to talk about his various projects, why he loves tattooed-and-pierced naked ladies and his desire to be discovered as a talented songsmith. He insisted we print his phone number, 503-279-9517, in the hopes that some rock star would read this and record one of his tunes. That may be his sickest joke yet.

Are you familiar with Mr. Skin?
I'm a big fan. I've heard Mr. Skin on Howard Stern. Nice to meet you. I love your site!

And I love your comics. Have you been to the site recently?
No. I threw my computer in the wastebasket the other day just for kicks. I wanted to see what it felt like without one and I kind of liked the feeling.

You may want to pull that thing out of the trash, because I've got a lifetime subscription to Mr. Skin for you to use and abuse. Let me give you the login and password.
Oh, that's nice. I appreciate that. Since I'm paralyzed I just got to get my helper to come in here and give me a pen. Sorry, I write kind of slow. I talk kind of slow, too. Now I have a reason to get the computer back.

It's the only reason to have a computer.
I love the idea of Mr. Skin. It's the funniest thing to me. I don't know, there's just something honest about it.

Fast forwarding to the good parts.
Yeah. This whole thing against men and trying to demonize and to vilify and make men look so stupid looking in the commercials on TV and movies, I don't know what it's all about. It's so strange to me. The idea of every single trailer in every movie has to show a man being beaten or smashed in the face or looking like an idiot or dressing like a woman.

You see a conspiracy?
Well, woman lead like whores with their skin showing 24 hours a day on all the channels. They lead you with their vagina. And then when men react they cut men off at the balls. Men are stupid to fall for it. The minute a woman says to a man, "You objectify me," ask them why they are trained, conditioned from the cradle to the grave to respond to woman's bodies and when they do respond it becomes sexist or so-called chauvinist. Then suddenly they're in the doghouse. It's a bullshit trip.

What's going on with the movie of your autobiography Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, starring Robin Williams and directed by Gus Van Sant?
It's kind of on hold, really. You know how it is with an option. You just never know.

What about the animated shows on Nickelodeon, Pelswick and Quads?
Pelswick is now playing on CBS on Saturday mornings. The other show still plays on Nickelodeon in Australia, Canada and, I think, Israel. It's a show called Quads. We're trying to get it in America. I wish some people would write to Comedy Central or something and try to get it on America. It's real sick. It's even sicker than South Park.

Let's hope the Skin audience floods the studio with your praises. Onto another medium, I understand you're a big fan of talk radio.
I haven't listened to talk radio in quite a while. I just scan it all around the dial. I like everybody. I don't take anybody seriously. That would be a big mistake. I listen to everything from Tom Leykis to Michael Savage. I enjoy his standup act. I mean, I consider his show to b e a standup act. It's Lenny Bruce meets Eichmann.

I know you just threw out your computer, but I heard you're a big fan of the site
Suicide Girls is out of Portland [Oregon]. Their building is just down the street from me, so I see them coming and going. I'm really not on the site anymore, but the only site I ever paid for was Suicide Girls. I like them; I think they're sexy.

What attracted you to them?
Pussy and tits.

So you don't go for the typical Hollywood beauty?
No, I don't go for that bullshit. When someone starts saying that Kristin Scott Thomas is a sexy woman you have to seriously question Hollywood's sanity.

What do you think of the Suicide Girls, do you think it's empowering to women or just another jerk-off site?
When a woman gets on the Internet completely nude and then says she's been empowering herself you have to ask her if she's high.

I love it.
Yeah, I do too. Empower yourself to the point of complete gynecology. I'm happy to see it.

What was the first sex scene you saw? Frame it for me and tell me your reaction.
Probably I saw something in the Paris Theater [in Portland, Oregon] when I was a kid. When I was about 14, I went downtown and snuck into the theater. I thought it was like an oil slick. Honestly, I didn't know what it was for like 10 minutes. I realized it was what it was. It looked like someone butchering a salmon.

What was it?
It was a woman masturbating [laughs].

Do you remember the movie?
Oh, no, it was just a skin flick. It was something like Come Carnival. The Devil in Miss Jones (Picture: ) was one of the first movies I ever saw because I liked the song at the beginning of it that she sings when she's killing herself. In America, you see too many movies. Now I can't go to them anymore because I don't like them.

In terms of actresses, you're not into the mainstream one, but there must be some you find hot.
I like the bass player who used to be in Hole. Her name is Melissa [Auf der Maur]. I think she's sexy. I've never seen her except on TV. She played with Billy Corgan [in the Smashing Pumpkins]. When I saw her on Saturday Night Live she just had her back to the audience with her heels on that's all I needed. I guess she's hot. As far as actresses go, usually the girls who play hookers on NYPD Blue. Like you see the hookers in the bar in the background that they arrest. Those are the ones I think are sexiest.

There's such a hyping up somebody that's not even sexy in Hollywood that kills me. It's funny to me that they say, what's her name is sexy, the one that's going out with the English rock star.

Gwyneth Paltrow (Picture: ).
How can anyone consider her sexy? I don't understand it.

Doesn't sound like you go to many movies anymore.
No, I don't, because they have an agenda of pushing girl power, gender this and lots of political stuff of how important it is to balance the races and stuff like that. It feels as if I'm being preached to. And there's a lot of stuff about the Holocaust that's overwhelming to me. It's too much Holocaust stuff for me.

Do you feel like a man out of time, completely disjointed from what would be considered the popular culture?
Yeah, I really do. I'm having a serious breakdown on that. But it's a very healthy feeling. It's just that I've taken a left turn, pop culture has taken a right and it's really strange but kind of cool feeling.

Have you ever done any dirty cartoons?
I've drawn for Penthouse for 20 years. My cartoons are occasionally in there, but not often. I do nude drawings of nuns. I've even sold some to Hustler, and The New Yorker, but not nude ones.

I've not seen your work in The New Yorker.
Well, I only had one in The New Yorker that's when Charles Addams drew my cartoon. They bought the joke off of me, probably in '86 or '87. They call me to do stuff and I'm too lazy to seem to get it. Then I always draw such sick ones. My latest, that's so unbelievably popular, is the one with the big, 500-pound guy at the doctor on his knees. The doctor's examining his rectal area with a scope and he's saying, "You're not going to believe this Mr. Smith, but they've open a new Starbuck's up your ass."

I was disturbed to read that you were abused as a boy by an older woman. How has that affected you?
It makes me very aware of the treatment of males. It's very disconcerting to hear a guy like Howard Stern talk about a 10-year-old boy that some 20-year-old teacher has pushed herself sexually on. And Stern is always, "You call that abuse? The guy's lucky, he should be happy."

The double standard is that if a man rapes a child, a young girl, you're doing serious lifetime commitment in jail. But if it's done the other way around it's just laughed at. There's a lot of that that goes on in society, the double standard for any crime, the male will always do way more crime than any female will.

When you have a situation like that happen to you as a child then you're aware of the double standard more and the tremendous damage that can be done to a person's psyche. Women are usually given a pass because of this silly chauvinistic attitude, as Camille Paglia, who's a friend of mine, says, the culture is unable to look at women in a negative way. The culture is not willing to look at women as being evil or being wicked in the same way that men are.

Here's a perfect example, a woman recently out here in Portland shot her two four-year-old girls. They rush in and start doing all these stories about how she must be insane. They send all these psychiatrists in and usually they'll search for a male that could have help caused this, like some abuse as a child. It's not the same as if a male shot his two four year olds there would be no insanity he'd be up the river. To me it's interesting; it's very significant.

I know guys like Tom Leykis talk about it, but he's so flawed, the way he puts it almost cancels it out. He addresses some of these inequities, it's comes across the wrong kind of tone and doesn't help at all. Maybe I'll write a book about it.

It's a double-edged sword. Women also have to pay a price for the other side of it, too, and everybody knows that. But more and more, women have equal power and it's time for them to start addressing equal responsibility.

all illustrations courtesy of

Related Links:
John Callahan official website
Kristin Scott Thomas
Gwyneth Paltrow
The Devil in Miss Jones