V for Vendetta

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V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:52 am

V for Vendetta: Framing the debate

Does Alan Moore and David Lloyd's graphic novel require a different kind of reading to prose fiction?

Sam Jordison
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 8 November 2011 13.30 GMT


Hugo Weaving as V in the film version of V for Vendetta

The choice of V for Vendetta in this month's book group has already fired up a debate about how to read comics – and about their relative value as an art form.


V for Vendetta: New Edition
by Alan Moore, David Lloyd

On the first question, the simplest suggestion came from VanessaWu:

As for how to read it, I will take Alan Moore's advice. I will sit in a comfortable chair, relax with a nice mug of tea and take all the time in the world to turn the pages back and forth at my own pace.

That's what I did. It was thoroughly rewarding. The comic teaches you how to read as you go along and really that's all you need to know - at first. Approaching it blind is and unencumbered is fun. I probably found Moore and Lloyd's vision all the more impressive, because I had little idea of what to expect - beyond the symbolism of that famous Guy Fawkes mask. So if you haven't yet read the book, I'd advise simply dipping in and enjoying it, rather than worrying too much about what you are getting into.

Mind you, I was glad that I also bore the following suggestion from Traffman in mind:

Just a tip for those who are taking their first foray into graphic novels/comics...Try to be disciplined and not be tempted to delve forward to look at the pretty pictures. Take it at a panel/page at a time - otherwise you will knacker the tale by creating your own spoilers.

I also found the following notes from Peter Griffin very helpful:

As pointed out, this was initially serialised in Warrior, an anthology comics magazine edited by Dez Skinn who managed to get all the top talent of the time to put out some pretty remarkable work, of which Moore's work on V and Marvelman (the first real post-modern deconstruction of the superhero) stand out of a very impressive bunch of strips. Also, the early strips are some of Moore's earliest professional works which makes them a bit more remarkable. For example he was still using thought balloons in his strips up until V when David Lloyd pointed out how some European comics look better without intrusive thought balloons.

V does act like he has super powers. Please try to ignore this as it's not important.
If you've seen the film first, then ignore it. The book is far superior.


If it feels like there's a difference in style between one chapter and the next few about 2/3 of the way through, then that's because there was a gap in publishing from when Moore feel out with Skinn and didn't write anything else for him, and obviously Warrior. DC Comics picked up the publication a few years later and again as mentioned, the work for DC was drawn to be cloured while the Warrior work was meant to be black and white. Sadly Steve Whitaker who did such an amazing job colouring the book died a few years ago and has never really got the acclaim he deserves for his work here.

Ed Hemingway, meanwhile recommended reading Scott McCloud's "stunning book, Understanding Comics." I took that piece of advice after reading V. I'm halfway through now, and finding it very interesting. I don't think I'd have enjoyed V for Vendetta any more or less if I'd read the McCloud book beforehand – but reading it afterwards has certainly helped increase my understanding, and provided a useful bit of context.


Reading the McCloud book has also made me more circumspect about how I introduce the next section of this article. This time last week I'd probably have started by suggesting that part of the reason so many serious readers remain wary of comic books is that they are a relatively new art form … But McCloud pretty neatly explodes that idea with a discussion of the Bayeux Tapestry, Trajan's Column, Aztec temples, Hogarth's various progresses, and many other places comics have popped up throughout history. Of course, it might be argued (and McCloud would probably agree) that comics as we know them now rely on relatively modern mass printing technology – but there remains the fact that most of us are ignorant of their longer heritage or don't take it particularly seriously. A fact that speaks volumes.

So too does the way so many people on the forum felt the need to explain how to read the comics. It was as if they were almost expecting opposition of the sort neatly summed up here by bookhugger:


I never read graphic novels. This will be interesting, I prefer to 'paint the pictures' myself, since I really do have an overactive imagination. Plus I have this really bad habit of just skimming the pictures and hardly bothering to read, whenever I get anything like a comic or graphic novel in my hands.


Personally, even though I rarely read comics, I didn't find either of those things problematic. I never thought David Lloyd and the other illustrators' pictures were somehow getting in the way of my own imagination. Quite the opposite. And I didn't skim – I was, in fact, very quickly absorbed into the story and going through every detail pretty systematically, but unconsciously. I don't think I skimped on any detail – but went from frame to frame, text box to text box quite naturally and without much self-reflexive awareness of what I was doing. I was just taking it in, much as I take in text-based books.

Or almost. Speaking for myself I never found myself wishing that Alan Moore had written a novel about V, instead of a comic. I did have a few problems with the story, and sometimes it seemed a little daft, but that was not a question of form. Many of the things that make it wonderful meanwhile – the shadowy dystopian Britain, the gripping, fast action sequences and the sense of claustrophobia and confusion – were direct results of Moore and Lloyd's framing and illustration. Or put more simply, the fact that it looks great. McCloud says that comics have "a language of their own" and that's clear from reading V For Vendetta. It's a discrete art form, and comparing comics to novels is really a false opposition …

… Except of course, they both deal with narrative, so it's hard to avoid making comparisons. Plus, it's fun to set up such arguments. So. Do novels take you deeper into people's heads? Do they offer perspectives that two-dimensional comic panels can't? Can they go into details that would quickly become tedious when drawn? Conversely, can comics do things that novels can't?

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:04 am

20 October 2011

V for Vendetta masks: Who's behind them? By Rosie Waites

BBC News Magazine


The sinister Guy Fawkes mask made famous by the film V for Vendetta has become an emblem for anti-establishment protest groups. Who's behind them?

From New York, to London, to Sydney, to Cologne, to Bucharest, there has been a wave of protests against politicians, banks and financial institutions.

Anybody watching coverage of the demonstrations may have been struck by a repeated motif - a strangely stylised mask of Guy Fawkes with a moustache and pointy beard.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrived at the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest to make a speech wearing one of these masks. He took it off, reportedly at the insistence of the police.

They were thought to have been used first by the notorious hacker-activist group Anonymous in 2008 during a protest against Scientology, but have since spread throughout the global protest movement.


“Anonymous needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also symbolise that they stand for individualism - V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system”
(David Lloyd)

The masks are from the 2006 film V for Vendetta where one is worn by an enigmatic lone anarchist who, in the graphic novel on which it is based, uses Fawkes as a role model in his quest to end the rule of a fictional fascist party in the UK.

Early in the book V destroys the Houses of Parliament by blowing it up, something Fawkes had planned and failed to do in 1605.

British graphic novel artist David Lloyd is the man who created the original image of the mask for a comic strip written by Alan Moore. Lloyd compares its use by protesters to the way Alberto Korda's famous photograph of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara became a fashionable symbol for young people across the world.

"The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny - and I'm happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way," he says.

A curious Lloyd visited the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park, New York, to have a look at some of the people wearing his mask.

"My feeling is the Anonymous group needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also symbolise that they stand for individualism - V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system."

The film of V for Vendetta ends with an image of a crowd of Londoners all wearing Guy Fawkes masks, unarmed and marching on parliament.

It is that image of collective identification and simultaneous anonymity that is appealing to Anonymous and other groups, says Rich Johnston, a commentator on the world of comics.


The 2006 film added a new costume to the fancy dress pantheon

The widespread adoption of the masks was definitely a reaction to the film rather than the book, he argues.

"The book is about one man bringing down the state but the film includes a scene of a huge crowd - making a statement against a faceless corporation."

"The masks were useful for the Scientology protests because it prevented individuals from being recognised," he adds.

Lloyd said that when he and writer Moore created the character of V they had a basic idea of an urban guerrilla fighting a fascist dictatorship but wanted to inject more theatricality into the story.


The mask is bought even in countries where Guy Fawkes is not such a well-known figure

"We knew that V was going to be an escapee from a concentration camp where he had been subjected to medical experiments but then I had the idea that in his craziness he would decide to adopt the persona and mission of Guy Fawkes - our great historical revolutionary."

The masks were originally made by Warner Bros to promote the film and were handed out at screenings. Now they are being sold to everyone from activists to fancy dress enthusiasts.

Rubies Costume Company, which makes the mask, sells around 100,000 a year worldwide, and 16,000 in the UK, according to spokesman Steve Kitt, who seems a little concerned that any association with activists might harm the company's image.

Rubies is dismissive of the idea that Anonymous and other protesters have fuelled demand for the mask, saying it has been successful ever since the film was released.


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been associated with the V imagery

Lloyd says he has already heard anecdotes about police in the US searching for the masks in people's houses to be used as evidence of involvement with Anonymous hacker attacks, "which is scary but also ridiculous - you wouldn't prosecute someone for having a t-shirt with Che or CND on it".

Johnston is just back from the New York Comic Con and recalls one incident where a group of V for Vendetta fans, dressed as their hero, unwittingly wandered into the Occupy Wall Street protest and were mistaken for protesters by the police.

Paul Staines, who blogs under the name of Guido Fawkes, said he finds it ironic that anti-capitalist, anti-corporation activists are inadvertently supporting Warner Bros - one of America's 100 biggest companies with profits last year of £1.6bn - by buying the masks.

He thinks the widespread use of the mask "signifies a loss of trust in politics - Guy Fawkes is the most anti-political figure you can pick".

One Anonymous member camping out in the shadow of London's St Paul's Cathedral said she was with a group of 15 people and planned to stay for "as long as necessary".


Sales of the masks make money for Warner Bros

She said that she and others had been wearing the masks, not only to protect their identity but also because it has become a symbol of the movement against corporate greed.

"It's a visual thing, it sets us apart from the hippies and the socialists and gives us our own identity. We're about bypassing governments and starting from the bottom."

Johnston sees the mask as fundamentally a violent image. "It's not a symbol of passive resistance but a symbol of active terrorism - it's about bringing down a government and a country and that could be quite scary and alienating to some people."

The idea of the V mask being appropriated as a political symbol is inherently ridiculous, he suggests.

"It's like assuming you can bring down a government using a light sabre or a He-Man sword."

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:21 am


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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:50 pm

V for Vendetta: Political resonance

The social implications of the story remain compelling – and not as unambiguous as you might assume

Sam Jordison
guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 November 2011 11.25 GMT


Protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks gather outside St Paul Cathedral in London. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

When V for Vendetta was announced as the subject of this month's Reading group, a reader called Sunburst called it "The finest, most intelligent and most relevant British novel of the last 25 years".


V for Vendetta: New Edition
by Alan Moore, David Lloyd

All of that is, of course, debatable (right down to timescale: in fact, some of the book is more than 25 years old). Yet there's truth in what he says. It is a good book, it is smart, and there's no doubt that it remains relevant – as TheOldRedDog pointed out:

"The thing I'd be most interested to see in the comments from the group is the reaction to the fact that when Alan Moore wrote V for Vendetta, he was working to the logical extension of the then-Thatcherite world and creating an all too prosaic and realistic portrayal of 'what could be'. Now that we have another Tory administration in power and the financial crisis has shown us that the powers that be back then never really went away, are the resonances simply déja-vu, or something else?"

Many other commenters noted that TheOldRedDog isn't strictly correct. Moore actually assumed the Tories were going to lose the 1983 election, and that Labour would remove nuclear weapons from British soil – thus paving the way for the avoidance of nuclear catastrophe that engulfs the rest of his unhappy world. (He has since readily admitted that such predictions were "naive".) But even so, there's no doubt that the evils of the British Tory party and Thatcherism were preying on Moore's and Lloyd's minds when they created the book – as they've both often confirmed in interviews. Here is Moore in conversation with a comic fan around the time of the release of the V for Vendetta film:

"They were talking less about annihilating whichever minority they happened to find disfavour with and more about free market forces and market choice and all of these other kind of glib terms, which tended to have the same results as an awful lot of the kind of fascist causes back in the 1930s, but with a bit more spin put upon them. The friendly face of fascism."

Make of that what you will, but there's no denying that much of V for Vendetta cuts close to the bone, especially now we're enjoying a bout of Conservative rule. The excellent TheOldRedDog again:

"I think it is this that Alan Moore was trying to get to – it doesn't take much to pierce the thin veneer of civilisation, and once we do we won't necessarily find mindless barbarism, but something far more insidious."

City bonuses, closing libraries, Nadine Dorries. It rings true, all right. But as TheOldRedDog's comment also suggests, there's far more to the book than anti-Thatcher allegory. MadameDeath said:

"In my humble opinion, V is a book about satanism and anarchism. Most readers miss that point, but V's actions certainly point to that area, which Moore is more than familiar with. Makes it all the more entertaining when you see thousands of protesters wearing the V mask."

Quite a few people disagreed with MadameDeath about the satanism, but it seemed an influence to me, too. Especially thanks to the repeated quotations from Aleister Crowley ("Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole of The Law") and that odd moment when V grows horns …

The anarchy, meanwhile, is undeniable – and that undoubtedly adds a certain something to the current use of the V mask as a symbol of protest. Of course, there's every chance that plenty of protesters don't know what the mask was originally about, but I think it would be wrong to assume too much ignorance. Certainly, the Anonymous movement seems to have borrowed more from V for Vendetta than just a cool symbol. Their videos, for a start, seem to replicate V's speech patterns – not to mention the staging used for similar transmissions in the book and the film. The many-headed nature of Anonymous – where the end result is more important than the individual bringing it about – also chimes with the denouement of V for Vendetta, as does their apparent desire to change world institutions by spreading a little well-aimed chaos and fear.

Apparently, Alan Moore himself is pleased. He told Entertainment Weekly: "I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta masks. That gave me a warm little glow." But my favourite soundbite comes from an interview with David Lloyd carried out by the Comics Alliance.

"What does it feel like," they asked him, "to have been part of creating a character that, years later, still stands as a symbol of rebellion?"

He replied simply: "Good."

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:02 pm

V for Vendetta: Reading the film

Alan Moore harboured a special resentment towards the film version, which did serious injustices to his graphic novel

Sam Jordison
guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 November 2011 11.37 GMT


Hugo Weaving in V for Vendetta. Photograph: Warner Bros/Everett Collection / Rex Features

The film of V for Vendetta carries the following credit line: "Based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd." Alan Moore's name is nowhere to be seen. There's nothing unusual in that. Moore has disassociated himself from all Hollywood product, explaining: "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was the reason why I decided to take my name off all subsequent films."

Few who have seen League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would want to argue with that. But even though his refusal to have his name on the credits is part of a general policy, Moore seems to harbour a special resentment towards the Joel Silver and Wachowski brothers production of V for Vendetta. As the New York Times wrote at the time of its release:

"To him, the movie adaptation of V for Vendetta is not the biggest platform yet for his ideas: it is further proof that Hollywood should be avoided at all costs. 'I've read the screenplay,' Mr Moore said. 'It's rubbish.'"

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw agreed with that latter point:

"Valueless gibberish. Yet another graphic novel has been bulldozed on to the screen, strutting its stuff for an assumed army of uncritical geeks – a fanbase product from which the fanbase has been amputated. This film manages to be, at all times, weird and bizarre and baffling, but in a completely boring way. Watching it is like having the oxygen supply to your brain slowly starved over more than two hours."

It's safe to say that Bradshaw didn't enjoy it very much. His review is so much fun, it's worth quoting more:

"V For Vendetta is such an odd mixture: partly naive post-punk posturing, betraying the original's 1981 origins, and partly well-meant (but very American) condescension towards London and Britain. Like tourists with a phrasebook, the Wachowskis get people to say "bollocks" a fair bit, and there is a pastiche of The Benny Hill Show. On the higher end of the cultural scale, V declaims Shakespeare, and in honour of Guy Fawkes's subversion in the age of James I, reels off lots of Macbeth. But he fails to quote the only appropriate lines: the ones about it being a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The best that can be said for the aforementioned Benny Hill moment is that it is true to its inspiration. That's to say, it isn't in the least bit funny. Yet as far as interpreting V for Vendetta goes, that absurd scene is the least of the film's crimes. I can understand why Alan Moore might have disliked it so much. Some of the changes are cosmetic and forgivable, if pointless. (Why change Susan to Sutler, for instance? Is it supposed to be a blend of Susan and Hitler?) Some do serious injustice to the book's complexity and deliberate ambiguity. Alan Moore again, in an excellent interview with Mile High comics:

"I actually don't think it's right to kill people. So I made it very, very morally ambiguous. And the central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn't want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think, and consider some of these admittedly extreme little elements, which nevertheless do recur fairly regularly throughout human history."

In the film there is no such doubt. V is a ruthless killer, but that's made to look pretty cool. With the knives and bullet-time camera work, the deaths might even be said to be fetishised. Otherwise, V is a straightforward – and correspondingly dull – good guy. And like most good guys (Frank Miller's creations aside) he is a liberal – which is very different to his troubling presentation in the book. As Alan Moore explained in that same Mile High interview:

"It seemed to me the two more absolute extremes were anarchy and fascism. This was one of the things I objected to in the recent film, where it seems to be, from the script that I read, sort of recasting it as current American neo-conservatism versus current American liberalism. There wasn't a mention of anarchy as far as I could see. The fascism had been completely defanged. I mean, I think that any references to racial purity had been excised, whereas actually, fascists are quite big on racial purity."

The fascists in the film are indeed defanged, but it's also notable that they are far less human than those in the book. Moore and Lloyd present rounded characters who aren't simply bad. Their descent into extreme Thatcherism is understandable, if also unforgivable. We are shown something of ourselves in them – and that makes the book all the more effective and frightening. In contrast, the villains in the film just seem daft (even if they're a bit like George W Bush and his neo-con crew).

In short, then, the book is far, far better. But here's the thing: I quite enjoyed the film. I was bored by the end, but the first hour was interesting enough. If I hadn't already read the book, I might have thought even more of it … maybe.

But what did you think? Is the film a poor shadow of the book? If you haven't read the book, what did you think of the film? And can anyone explain Benny Hill to me?

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:39 pm

Alan Moore – meet the man behind the protest mask

From Wall St to Athens and Occupy sit-ins worldwide, protesters are wearing masks inspired by V for Vendetta. Here, its author discusses why his avenging hero has such potency today


Tom Lamont
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 26 November 2011 20.05 GMT


A protester wearing a 'V for Vendetta' mask at Occupy Madrid on 15 October. Photograph: Action Press/Rex Features

The comic-book writer Alan Moore is not usually surprised when his creations find a life for themselves away from the printed page. Strips he penned in the 1980s and 90s have been fed through the Hollywood patty-maker, never to his great satisfaction, resulting in both critical hits and terrible flops; fads for T-shirts, badges and shouted slogans have emerged from characters and conceits he has dreamed up for titles such as Watchmen and From Hell. "I suppose I've gotten used to the fact," says the 58-year-old, "that some of my fictions percolate out into the material world."


V for Vendetta
by Alan Moore

But Moore has been caught off-guard in recent years, and particularly in 2011, by the inescapable presence of a certain mask being worn at protests around the world. A sallow, smirking likeness of Guy Fawkes – created by Moore and the artist David Lloyd for their 1982 series V for Vendetta. It has a confused lineage, this mask: the plastic replica that thousands of demonstrators have been wearing is actually a bit of tie-in merchandise from the film version of V for Vendetta, a Joel Silver production made (quite badly) in 2006. Nevertheless, at the disparate Occupy sit-ins this year – in New York, Moscow, Rio, Rome and elsewhere – as well as the repeated anti-government actions in Athens and the gatherings outside G20 and G8 conferences in London and L'Aquila in 2009, the V for Vendetta mask has been a fixture. Julian Assange recently stepped out wearing one, and last week there was a sort of official embalmment of the mask as a symbol of popular feeling when Shepard Fairey altered his famous "Hope" image of Barack Obama to portray a protester wearing one.

It all comes back to Moore – a private man with knotty greying hair and a magnificent beard, who prefers to live without an internet connection and who has not had a working telly for months "on an obscure point of principle" about the digital signal in his hometown of Northampton. He has never yet properly commented on the Vendetta mask phenomenon, and speaking on the phone from his home, Moore seems variously baffled, tickled, roused and quite pleased that his creation has become such a prominent emblem of modern activism.

"I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn't it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It's peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction."

V for Vendetta tells of a future Britain (actually 1997, nearly two decades into the future when Moore wrote it) under the heel of a dictatorship. The population are depressed and doing little to help themselves. Enter Evey, an orphan, and V, a costumed vigilante who takes an interest in her. Over 38 chapters, each titled with a word beginning with "V", we follow the brutal, loquacious antihero and his apprentice as they torment the ruling powers with acts of violent resistance. Throughout, V wears a mask that he never removes: bleached skin and rosy cheeks, pencil beard, eyes half shut above an inscrutable grin. You've probably come to know it well.

"That smile is so haunting," says Moore. "I tried to use the cryptic nature of it to dramatic effect. We could show a picture of the character just standing there, silently, with an expression that could have been pleasant, breezy or more sinister." As well as the mask, Occupy protesters have taken up as a marrying slogan "We are the 99%"; a reference, originally, to American dissatisfaction with the richest 1% of the US population having such vast control over the country. "And when you've got a sea of V masks, I suppose it makes the protesters appear to be almost a single organism – this "99%" we hear so much about. That in itself is formidable. I can see why the protesters have taken to it."


Alan Moore at the Edinburgh international book festival in 2010. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

Moore first noticed the masks being worn by members of the Anonymous group, "bothering Scientologists halfway down Tottenham Court Road" in 2008. It was a demonstration by the online collective against alleged attempts to censor a YouTube video. "I could see the sense of wearing a mask when you were going up against a notoriously litigious outfit like the Church of Scientology."

But with the mask's growing popularity, Moore has come to see its appeal as about something more than identity-shielding. "It turns protests into performances. The mask is very operatic; it creates a sense of romance and drama. I mean, protesting, protest marches, they can be very demanding, very gruelling. They can be quite dismal. They're things that have to be done, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're tremendously enjoyable – whereas actually, they should be."

At one point in V for Vendetta, V lectures Evey about the importance of melodrama in a resistance effort. Says Moore: "I think it's appropriate that this generation of protesters have made their rebellion into something the public at large can engage with more readily than with half-hearted chants, with that traditional, downtrodden sort of British protest. These people look like they're having a good time. And that sends out a tremendous message."

It is an irony noted with relish by critics of the protests – one also glumly acknowledged by many of the protesters – that the purchase of so many Vendetta masks has become a lucrative little side-earner for Time Warner, the media company that owns the rights to Moore's creation. Efforts have been made to avoid feeding the conglomerate more cash, the Anonymous group reportedly starting to import masks direct from factories in China to circumvent corporate pockets; last year, demonstrators at a "Free Julian Assange" event in Madrid wore cardboard replicas, apparently self-made. But more than 100,000 of the £4-£7 masks sell every year, according to the manufacturers, with a cut always going to Time Warner. Does that irk Moore?

"I find it comical, watching Time Warner try to walk this precarious tightrope." Through contacts in the comics industry, he explains, he has heard that boosted sales of the masks have become a troubling issue for the company. "It's a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest. It's not really anything that they want to be associated with. And yet they really don't like turning down money – it goes against all of their instincts." Moore chuckles. "I find it more funny than irksome."

He has a tricky relationship with Time Warner, umbrella company to both DC Comics, which published V for Vendetta in its graphic novel form, and Warner Brothers, the studio behind the big-screen version. Like many of us, Moore thought the 2003 film made out of his late 90s comic strip The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen a great failure, and by the time V for Vendetta had been adapted for the screen, in 2006, he wanted his name removed from the credits; perhaps even from future editions of the graphic novel too. At the time an interviewer asked Moore if he might be "throwing out the baby with the bathwater", and he gave the sort of strolling, storyteller's response that ought to be laminated and distributed to any artist uncertain about giving over their creations to Hollywood. "Well, I don't own the baby any more," said Moore. "During a drunken night it turned out that I'd sold it to the Gypsies and they had turned my baby to a life of prostitution. Occasionally they would send me glossy pictures of my child as she now was, and they would very, very kindly send me a cut of the earnings…"

Today, when we speak, there is still for Moore "a cloud of bitterness" that surrounds V for Vendetta. But with its revival in the context of contemporary protest he has been able to return to the story, drawing cautious pleasure from it for the first time in years. "I don't have a copy of the book around the place, but with the mask everywhere it's made me think back to the work itself, try to figure out why this has lodged in the public imagination."

He sees parallels between the dystopia predicted in the story and the world today. The book foretold the prevalence of CCTV cameras on city streets, for instance; and Moore takes a particular satisfaction in a strand of the plot that seemed to anticipate the sort of internet-based dissent that has made groups such as Anonymous and Assange's WikiLeaks such major agents of protest. "The reason V's fictional crusade against the state is ultimately successful is that the state, in V for Vendetta, relies upon a centralised computer network which he has been able to hack. Not an obvious idea in 1981, but it struck me as the sort of thing that might be down the line." Moore is not computer-literate. "This was just something I made up because I thought it would make an interesting adventure story. Thirty years go by and you find yourself living it."

He is careful to point out that "I have no particular connection or claim to what [the protesters] are doing, nor am I suggesting that these people are fans of mine, or of V for Vendetta." Ultimately, use of the mask may be down to the simple fact that "it's cool-looking. I'm not trying to make a proprietorial statement."

He is also aware of how badly things can go wrong when a fiction of his spreads too far from source. Last year, an unhinged man in Florida went on a shooting spree in a school, spray-painting a "V" symbol on the wall (matching a symbol that appears in the comic and film incarnations of V for Vendetta) before killing himself. "A horrible, pointless episode," says Moore. "So there's always... Now I didn't feel responsible, but..." He does not finish the thought, but trusts the V mask will remain an essentially peaceful tool of protest. "At the moment, the demonstrators seem to me to be making clearly moral moves, protesting against the ridiculous state that our banks and corporations and political leaders have brought us to."

David Lloyd, V for Vendetta's co-creator, has admitted going along to a demo in New York to see the masks in use. The extent of Moore's own activism has been "a good moan in the local pub"; he does not see himself donning a mask ("Be a bit weird, wouldn't it?"). But his sympathies are with the protesters, and there is a clear sense of pride for him that so many people – if not "the 99%" then a great, unignorable bloc – have caused such a stir. "It would be probably be better if the authorities accepted this is a new situation, that this is history happening. History is a thing that happens in waves. Generally it is best to go with these waves, not try to make them turn back – the Canute option. I'm hoping that the world's leaders will realise this."

Back in the early 80s, approaching the end of Vendetta's epic 38-part cycle, Moore was struggling to think of another "V" word with which to title a closing chapter. He'd already used Victims, Vaudeville and Vengeance; the Villain, the Voice, the Vanishing; even Vicissitude and Verwirrung (the German word for confusion). "I was getting pretty desperate," he says.

He eventually settled on Vox populi. "Voice of the people. And I think that if the mask stands for anything, in the current context, that is what it stands for. This is the people. That mysterious entity that is evoked so often – this is the people."

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Wed May 02, 2012 6:19 pm


The Man Behind The Mask Photograph: Eva Palazzetti/Flickr

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed May 02, 2012 9:55 pm

Alan Moore is a necromancer of the darkish arts who employs the Grimoirium Verum and Pseudomonarchia Daemonum to conjure up fairly unnatural anarcho-syndicalist demon-seed so that he might defile the primary Richard Nixon clone of the Bilderberg Group.

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Wed May 02, 2012 10:04 pm

^

Did I dream it, or did I read an interview a couple of years ago with AM in which he talked about conversing with a kind of homunculus he'd conjured? scratch

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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu May 03, 2012 6:03 am

on Wisconsin Public Media radio programme, I heard an Alan Moore biographer say that Alan worships a 2nd century hand puppet of snake god Glycon that originally belonged to an ancient confidence man. Alan talks to his snake puppet god often and gets ideas from the god.


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Re: V for Vendetta

Post  eddie on Thu May 03, 2012 7:55 am

^
Napoleon believed he was being protected by a small red genie.

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