The Washington Post

OCCUPY GUY FAWKES: What does the man behind the mask think of the movement?

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask on the back of her head, calls for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally in front of the White House on Nov. 6, 2011 — during Guy Fawkes Day weekend. (JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS)

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.

(Alan Moore & David Lloyd / DC Entertainment / Vertigo)

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.”



Protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks gather outside St Paul Cathedral in the city of London on October 16, 2011 as part of a global day of protests inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" and "Indignant" movements. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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