Valium in 2018
May 4, 1959 (age 59)
|Movement||Montreal Comix Scene|
Henriette Valium (born May 4, 1959), whose real name is Patrick Henley, is a comic book artist and painter based in Montreal, Quebec. Although Valium did gain substantial recognition from the underground comics scene in Europe and North-America since his beginnings in the early 1980s, his provocative and hallucinogenic style has kept him well away from the mainstream comic book industry.
Spanning over a career of three decades, Valium’s creations are widely dispersed through numerous anthologies, fanzines, self-published comics, and various mixed-media collaborations, which makes it difficult to establish a detailed chronology of his work.
With the exception of Vagorbine 14 (1981), his first self-published title, Valium’s early incursions into the comic book world can be found through various Quebec compilations and fanzines like Motel, Tchiize and Rectangle. One notable contribution during that period was made to Iceberg (1984), in which he introduces himself for the first time under the pseudonym "Henriette Valium". Many of the stories written during the 1980s were compiled into 1000 Rectums, It's an Album (1987), a self-published anthology. The book introduces many themes and characters that will become the author’s trademarks over the years. In particular, Valium brings in some of his most recognizable protagonists, such as his alter-ego Pattou, the enigmatic Mister Iceberg, and the evil scientist Doc Lekron. The stories, often one-page short, mostly revolves around Valium’s usual themes, mainly sickness, addictions, abnormal sexuality and social decay in general. Even though the drawings are strongly marked by a penchant towards punk aesthetics, 1000 Rectums does not yet exhibit the complex and violent graphical excess that will characterize later publications such as Primitive Crétin.
Along with a brief punk rock experiment as a singer for Valium et les Dépressifs and the subsequent release of C'est un monstre (1992), the early 1990s were a prolific period that led to the creation of Primitive Crétin! (1993), a self-published 11.5" by 17.5" anthology. The book, which probably constitutes Valium’s most widely recognized work up to date, is a collection of demented and often absurd stories that carry on with the themes and characters of 1000 Rectums, along with the addition of short-lived yet memorable characters like The Boxing-Glove Family or Tiplouplou. The truly remarkable feature of the book, however, lies within its staggering surreal drawings. Each page of Primitive Crétin! is a world onto itself, in which images of strange organisms, distorted everyday objects, and extreme urban density are intertwined to create a general impression of disorder. The complexity of the drawings combined with their considerable scale generate an immersive chaotic environment that is almost impossible to decode at first glance. In order to achieve this effect in Primitive Crétin! and his other comics in general, Valium has to work for several months on each page. Thus, the conception of a whole comic book represents a long and strenuous process that can take up to 6 years.
In addition to frequent collaborations with various independent zines across Europe and North America, such as Zero Zero (which led to a US reprinting of Primitive Crétin! in 1996), Valium also started by the mid-1990s to experiment more formally with collage, which moved his art toward a more abstract and horrific form. Among the interesting collages of that period, we find La Prison Anale des Frères Rouges (1996) and the Curés Malades ("sick priests") series. The later, through the depiction of machine parts and pornography blended over portraits of priests, is a gloomy and graphic criticism on the Catholic Church’s historical influence in Quebec. Valium’s collage work, with its incorporation of explicit sexual imagery (often going as far as bestiality) and gruesome press photos, has prevented him from getting any kind of public recognition, including government subsidies. Since the 1980s, Valium has mostly made a living from printing posters for various Montreal rock bands and bars, such as Le Café Campus and Les Foufounes Électriques.
The year 2000 was marked by the publication of Coeur de Maman ("Mother’s Heart"), a self-published 11.5" by 17.5" silkscreened comic book. Coeur de Maman, a bizarre story about an oversized, monstrous mother’s heart, picks up where Primitive Crétin left, with the pages being so heavily illustrated that they become almost unreadable. In the same year, Valium also completed The Survivor, a monumental painting centered on a Joseph Goebbels family picture that was shown at Gallery Clark  (Montreal) along with Les Curés Malades, and several other works. Finally, he also participated, in the spring of 2000, in an exhibition of his work at the La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles.
More recently, Valium has kept experimenting with collage, integrating Photoshop into his creations, which led among other things to a series of serigraphs titled Les Héritiers du Rêve (2002), and the small books Mutants I (2002) and Mutants II (2003). His latest comic book, Princesse Brune ("Brown Princess"), was completed in 2006. His most recent collage, Djoker, was shown at the Voltigeur gallery in Toulouse in the summer of the same year. Valium is currently working on Mutants III, a tribute to Hans Bellmer, which will mainly consist of pornographic computer collages.
In spring 2007, L'Association from France plan to publish a complete anthology of his comics. Another French collective, Le Dernier Cri, are working on a box set that will include the book from L'Association, an audio cd, and an anthology of all his drawings and paintings. Valium's web site was finalized in February 2007.
- Guy Leshinski (March 2002). "Henriette Valium Parody's Pope". Archived from the original on 2007-05-01. Retrieved 2007-04-16.
- Fabien Deglise (March 2013). "Les cris d'angoisse d'un pape de la bédé underground". Retrieved 2013-08-03.