Art

Exclusive: David Lloyd's unseen drafts of iconic V for Vendetta mask

The comic book artist has shared early illustrations of his Guy Fawkes mask with The Big Issue as we mark 10 years since the Occupy protests, for which it became a symbol.

Artist David Lloyd. stands in front of the V for Vendetta masks he originally designed which became an emblem for the Occupy movement.

Artist David Lloyd. stands in front of the V for Vendetta masks he originally designed which became an emblem for the Occupy movement. Image: Paul Quezada-Neiman / Alamy

Never have comic book characters exerted so much influence over popular culture as now. But few of the films crafted from the cookie cutter Marvel formula and their DC competitors have something to say about our lives and the power structures that govern them.

An early pencil drawing of the guy fawkes mask used in V for Vendetta
One of the early drafts for the V Guy Fawkes mask. Image: David Lloyd

That was the case in 1982 too, when a much smaller comics industry was confined to the pages rather than the big screen. But writer Alan Moore and illustrator David Lloyd tore up the rulebook with V for Vendetta.

The Guy Fawkes mask of the eponymous V not only made for a striking story of one man’s war against a fascist English state in the comic book and blockbuster film, but it also made for an enduring image of solidarity, protest and action at the heart of hacktivist group Anonymous and the Occupy movement.

Illustration: David Lloyd

Lloyd’s provocative art was the obvious choice to illustrate The Big Issue’s take on Occupy London’s 10th anniversary, and the 71-year-old Londoner was only too keen to get involved, providing exclusive, never-seen-before early illustrations.

Lloyd told The Big Issue the connection between his art and protests around the world continues to thrill him.

“The whole thing, it’s really great,” he says. “It’s a great privilege that the mask became so important and representative with protest and resistance. I’m very proud of that.”

The idea behind V for Vendetta came in 1980 when, if you can imagine, a distrust of the prime minister and a fear of the rise of the far right were coming to a head.

It was Lloyd who came up with the idea for the Guy Fawkes mask, remembering the Gunpowder Plot to bring to life the anti-fascist anti-hero.

The design became a global symbol of rebellion in 2008 when members of Anonymous opted for the disguise in video messages, echoing the TV broadcast V does in the original story.

Illustration: David Lloyd

The irony, of course, is that the mask’s design is licensed by one of the many corporations Occupy sought to stand against, with each sale earning Warner Media a tiny cut.

But, for Lloyd, it is an enduring work that continues to leave him full of pride.

“It might sound like I’m saying what is obvious, but it means something, you know? Not many comics mean any damn thing,” he says.

“Myself and Alan took the opportunity of actually saying something in a time when nobody was saying anything in the field we were working in.

“It worked and it reached people and then it got bigger and it made more impressions on more people.”

This article is taken from an interview in the latest edition of The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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