Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 4, 2008

Bob Callahan, RIP


It's my understanding from multiple sources that the editor and sometimes comics writer Bob Callahan passed away in San Francisco last week, although I'm unable to confirm with an official obituary from the likely regional sources or via a national search engine, which provides at least some element of doubt. A few friends have begun to eulogize him on-line, however, which I suppose makes it an interesting story if it turns out not to be true. As a writer and editor, Callahan was an important figure in a few key expressions of comics over the last two decades: the emergence and recognition of alternative comics, the continuing work of underground comix artists into a fourth and fifth decade, prose book publisher's relationships to comics, and, perhaps most surprisingly, webcomics.

imageCallahan may be best known to general comics audiences as the editor of the recent anthology The New Smithsonian Book of Comic Book Stories: From Crumb to Clowes, the Neon Lit line including Paul Auster's City of Glass, and 1991 anthology The New Comics. He wrote Neon Lit's adaptation of Perdita Durango. Callahan collaborated with the artist Spain Rodriguez on one of the well-publicized web comics in recent history, the noirish Dark Hotel effort serialized at in I think in 2000. The partnership with Spain also saw expression in the pages of LA Weekly, where the pair did a short series called Rocky Devito's Starlight Alleys, and were joined by Justin Green on the even shorter-running feature Boris Kirov, Soviet Superhero. Callahan also created comics with Mark Zingarelli and Harry S. Robins for that publication.

Callahan was a looming figure in Bay Area prose and poetry during the 1970s and 1980s in particular, co-founding the Turtle Island Foundation and the Before Columbus Foundation. He edited a number of pieces on Irish-American culture, most notably The Big Book of Irish American Culture, and published a periodical called Callahan's Irish Quarterly. He was at least recently an adjunct professor in humanities and director of the New College Press at San Francisco's New College of California. He is survived by his wife Eileen.
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