Moore Enjoys Watching ‘V’ Enter The Real World

Photo from The Guardian/ The Guy Fawkes mask originated from the comic book series "V For Vendetta" and has become a popular symbol of protest.

I’ve often wondered what writer Alan Moore thinks of the iconic Guy Fawkes mask he and artist David Lloyd created for the “V For Vendetta” series becoming a common sight at protests around the world.

Well, The Guardian recently answered that question for me by interviewing Moore about it.

Here are a few excerpts:

“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.” …

… “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.” …

… 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 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 forVendetta‘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.” …

To read the entire story, go here.

If you haven’t read any of Moore’s work, such as “V For Vendetta,” “The Watchmen” or “From Hell,” you are doing yourself a great disservice. He is a brilliant writer who has helped elevate the comics/graphic novel medium to new heights during the last several decades. If you’re only familiar with the movie versions of those titles, you are missing out on a great deal. The movies, of course, aren’t nearly as good as the graphic novels.

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