French illustrator Hector de la Vallée’s drawings are cynical, clever and expertly executed. Hector studied art at university, but his interest in illustration dates back to his childhood. As a boy, the artist was inspired by comic strips, like Tales from the Crypt and House of Mystery, as well as science fiction book covers, such as the cover art of H P Lovecraft and Stefan Wul’s novels. Pursuing this long-term fascination as a full-time job landed him in the bi-weekly magazine Society and saw him designing promotional record covers and music posters. “This year I am going to release a collection of my press drawings,” Hector tells It’s Nice That.
The artist’s compilation of press illustrations won’t be Hector’s first publication. The zine Bungalow, edited by Editions FP&CF, is the second in a series of cruel narratives and alarming stories that are conceptualised and designed by Hector. The plot is distressing, dark and simple: “Bungalow tells the story of a growing multi-million dollar company, like Apple, Google or Amazon, that manufactures monster costumes.” Mac computers or Monster costumes; the differences between huge, multi-national companies are slight in a world where profit-making and business growth takes priority. Hector’s story illustrates the potentially grave consequences of unstoppable desire in his cautionary tale. “The company’s founder dies in a bungalow during his vacation in Seychelles,” the artist reveals. Insatiable greed becomes the character’s internal monster that haunts and plagues him.
Despite the moral messages that pervade his visual narrative, Hector refrains from explicit preaching and overt criticism. Nor does he recount his creative process. “I can’t really describe how I draw, it’s pretty chaotic but it takes me a lot of time,” he says. His black and white illustrations are lively and dynamic, filled with bold lines and sharp contrasts. His plots are dramatic, intense and emotionally charged, but the characters remain unfazed. The drawings are wry and leave the reader with a bitter smile: “For Bungalow, I adopted a simple narrative technique close to that of a children’s storybook: one image and one sentence per page,” Hector says. Simple appearances aside, Hector’s work reveals a shrewd critical awareness of the pathologies in today’s society.