Henriette Valium, often regarded as Le Pape de l'Underground or The Pope of The Underground was one of the most influential underground comics artists until his passing in 2021. Valium's work was characterized by a fascination and exploration of illness and decay, whether it be corporeal, societal, or governmental as he delved into topics including sex, racism, and criticized institutions such as the government and church.
Despite the notoriety of Valium's works, he lacked any form of major institutional support, without a single approved grant request, and lived on welfare. This lack of support and hardship partially drove Valium to create art that criticized institutions and revolved around issues and illnesses. His debut publication,1000 Rectums released in 1987, was a gruesome 60-page collection featuring city streets covered in gore and various other absurd depictions of urban decay and parodies of mainstream comics.
In Quebec Valium's work was deemed too violent and too sexual but in France, he was hailed as a "brilliant" Avant-Garde artist with many of his most memorable works published there. A series of collaged images titled Sick Priests was published in France which consisted of Quebecois priests meshed with pornographic images. Valium intended for the viewer to not be able to see the sexual aspects of the collage without looking closely, and in Montreal, galleries, television, and weekend travel guides inadvertently used a collage from Sick Priests. Soon after, also in France, Valium published Maladies in 1994. "The Head Sickness", "The Super Swelling Syndrome", and "The Haulucinating Hand" are all among the mysterious and absurd diseases he details, along with their equally disturbing cures. Maladies is also sprinkled with Valium's signature writing style comprised of bold lettering, backward "N's" and many times incomprehensible commentary. Valium's Maladies is a timeless staple of the Canadian Underground and a hilariously ludicrous journey that is sure to bend the mind.