Hal’s Pick: The Palace of Champions


The Palace of Champions, by Valium (Conundrum Press)

Just in time for the disaffected ex-punk rocker on your list comes this homage to, and collection of the work of, the legendary long-standing underground Montreal comic artist Valium. The work in this volume is a where’s Waldo? spew of intricate drawings in which we are challenged to find the anuses, references to 9/11 conspiracy theory, empty beer bottles and Quebecois swear-words. Like all of Valium’s long-standing work in zines, underground anthologies and even painting from the 80s on up to the present day, the style is instantly recognizable. But the larger format and full colour gloss are new, and give Valium’s vintage NSFW hallucinations turned upside and inside out a whole new urgency. Valium is the real deal and his book is a portal into a lost world of anarchist Montrealers living on the mental and material edge in every possible way. That time is over, tabernac, but at least we still have the sole remaining survivor – witness the shame, people, and keep taking your Valium.