FROM HIS PEN sprung the most recognizable face in the crowd.
Wherever you see Occupiers chanting, ranting and decamping, you are likely to see his brainchild — a mustachioed symbol of protest inspired by failed revolutionary Guy Fawkes before it was disseminated by the mighty corporation that is the profiting Warner Bros.
British graphic novelist David Lloyd created the countenance for his much-acclaimed ‘80s comic “V for Vendetta,” written by Alan Moore. Like Fawkes, who plotted to blow up Parliament some four centuries ago, the dystopian novel’s anarchist V seeks to destroy the government.
The 2006 film starring Natalie Portman — and Hugo Weaving beneath V’s Guy Fawkes costuming — spawned mask giveaways for publicity. In a mere five years — thanks to such activist groups as Anonymous, which reportedly donned the look to shield its members’ identities — the mask has become both a universally recognized image and a wildly popular sales item.
And now, from Wall Street to London, it seems you can’t scan a protesting throng without seeing a Fawkes mask.
Over the Guy Fawkes Day weekend — “Remember, remember, the Fifth of November: the gunpowder treason and plot” — Comic Riffs asked Lloyd for his thoughts on the mass appropriation of his mask:
”As far as that mask is concerned, well, I'm happy it's being used as a multi-purpose banner of protest,” Lloyd tells Comic Riffs. “It's like [Alberto Korda’s] Che Guevara image on T-shirts and such that was used so often in the past as a symbol of revolutionary spirit — the difference being that while Che represented a specific political movement, the mask of V does not: It's neutral.
“It just represents opposition to any perceived tyranny,” continues Lloyd, “which is why it fits easily into being Everyman's tool of protest against oppression rather than being a calling card for a particular group.”
As for the Occupy Movement, the man behind the mask tells Comic Riffs: “I must say, the mass protests against the titanic unfairness of the way things are these days reminds me very much of [Paddy Chayevsky’s 1976 satire] ‘Network,’ that movie where the disillusioned newsman cries out: ‘I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!’ — and causes a ripple that spreads out into the whole city.
“This time it's across the globe.”