|Michel Choquette at the "Someday Funnies" book launch at the McGill Faculty Club last Thursday.|
Michel Choquette's 1960s Time Capsule
The curator of a new collection of long-shelved comic art on wooing Salvador Dalí, hiring a Hitler impersonator, and going bust for his dream.
Click here for a slideshow of selections from The Someday Funnies.
Listen to an audio version of this interview:
The cultural gems unearthed for The Someday Funnies: A Comic History of the 1960s, out this week from Abrams ComicArts, were first commissioned by Rolling Stone back in the early '70s but are only now making it into print. Which is kind of amazing, given the iconic artists and writers involved: Federico Fellini, Tom Wolfe, William S. Burroughs, Pete Townshend, Frank Zappa, Stan Mack, Will Eisner, and Jack Kirby, to name just a few. The book never would have been published at all had it not been for the heroic efforts of its original editor and mastermind Michel Choquette. On the eve of publication, I caught up with Choquette to talk about his days at National Lampoon, Salvador Dalí's penis-shaped pool, and going belly-up in pursuit of his dream.
Mother Jones: Virginia Woolf's husband, Leonard, once said that a man should change his career every seven years. Your life seems to be an effort to exceed that level of mutability. By your mid-20s you'd been a moviemaker, a student of Mesopotamian languages, a professional photographer, a musician, and a protégé of the musical satirist Tom Lehrer. How did you do it all?
Michel Choquette: I never thought about it. Whatever happened happened; that kind of thing. And it wasn't quite as sequential as you make it sound. They often overlapped.
MJ: Sometime after that you toured the country as part of the Time Square Two, a comedy act that exposed you to a national audience on, among other things, The Merv Griffin Show. What are you fondest memories of that time?
MC: I think it was creating the material. And performing it too, of course; but we were mainly a television act because we were very visual. Sort of re-creating in a surrealized way the days of vaudeville. But I think performing in clubs where you had a very direct relationship with the audience and where you could start ad-libbing material that you would later incorporate into the act, I think those were probably my favorite moments.