V for Vendetta was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, and the story is dispersed throughout a ten-issue comic book series. The story is set in the oppressed and downtrodden United Kingdom after a worldwide nuclear war, which has left most of the world in shambles, in the 1990's. Its main character "V," a disguised anarchist in a Guy Fawkes mask, attempts to destroy the totalitarian government. Throughout the story, he has a strong impact on the nation of the United Kingdom as well as those he comes in contact with. A compelling story of despair and the struggle to overcome, V for Vendetta was an enjoyable read due to its colorful illustrations and detailed plot. The history of the graphic novel's publication is also an interesting facet to general appeal of the novel. While writing V for Vendetta, Moore developed an idea for a comic strip called "The Doll," which he submitted to DC Thomson. However, this idea was rejected and DC Thomson was appalled at the idea of a "transsexual terrorist". After some time, Moore was approached again by Warrior as they wanted him to join forces with illustrator David Lloyd to create another comic. The two agreed to set their comic in a near-future Britain. Character development fluctuated throughout the process as they changed their main characters image from gangster, to policeman, to heroic anarchist. Naming the comic was another topic of debate for its creators. Warrior editor, Dez Skinn, originally conceived the idea to name it Vendetta. However, this idea was rejected due to the belief that it sounded too Italian. Shortly after, they agreed to name the comic V for Vendetta, placing a majority of the emphasis on the V. David Lloyd soon came up with the idea of giving V a Guy Fawkes mask to conceal his identity and enhance is mysterious qualities as his true face will be hidden beneath the mask. In addition, this was done to avoid the traditional superhero look as they wished for their character to be truly unique. Another significant influence on this work can be attributed to the political climate of the United Kingdom in the early 1980's. Alan Moore and David Lloyd's efforts produced one of the most popular graphic novels in history.
Alan Moore has been an author that we have studied throughout the semester as we have read several of his works and analyzed his writing style in the comics we have read as a class. His most popular works include V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and From Hell. These are only a few of his many works. Moore is an extremely well-known figure in the world of comics and graphic novels for his tremendous works and distinct style. He is noted as being the first writer to apply literary and formalist sensibilities to the mainstream medium. Moore has worked within many mediums throughout his writing career. He has produced superhero narratives, dystopian science fiction like V for Vendetta, and horror stories. In addition, he has "stretched the boundaries" of comics as he chosen to write noir expressionism as well as works that do not co notate any specific class of genre. He has taken use of challenging subject matter and adult themes in many of his work, which make him somewhat of a controversial author. He certainly does not shy away from the edge and is willing to put out a work that challenges mainstream beliefs and ideas. In one of his works, The Saga of Swamp Thing, he addresses environmental and social issues in conjunction with the horror and fantasy aspects of the story.
One of his most popular, if not the most popular, works is Watchmen. In this story, he conceives a world in the 1940's, in which costumed heroes actually exist and where the world lies in the shadow of a potential nuclear war. An interesting aspect of this graphic novel is how Alan Moore constructed it and what his motives were for doing so. For example, the story is nonlinear as it is told from several points of view and issue five is particularly unique due to its symmetrical design, "Fearful Symmetry". The last page is a mirror image of the first, and the second to last page is a mirror image of the second page and so on. This strategy highlights Moore's interest in human perception as well as its implications for free will. Another one of his more popular works also serves as an example for Moore's interest in perception of time. From Hell examines the Jack the Ripper killings as a small portion of the 1880's. Moore's primary motive for this graphic novel was to show how to solve a crime holistically. One must first understand the society, in which these murders occurred, and view these murders as a consequence of the economic and political conditions of the time. These graphic novels all serve as some of Alan Moore's most popular and influential works. His style is emphasized throughout the stories.
There are numerous sub-genres in V for Vendetta, such as anarchist, mystery, superhero, and post-apocalyptic. The post-apocalyptic sub-genre is one of the most interesting parts of this story and I found particular interest in this type of sub-genre. It is concerned with the end of civilization through several different types of methods. These methods can include nuclear war, plague, or some other type of general disaster. A culture that saw the significant increase in novels, movies, and other works that utilize the sub-genre of post-apocalyptic fiction is the Japanese culture. This was a result of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the mindset of the Japanese of the time. They had witnessed the complete destruction of two of their most prominent cities and recognized what the world could be like after such a disaster due to the fact that they had lived it. Post-apocalyptic fiction is set in the future in the area affected by the disaster. V for Vendetta is set in the United Kingdom after a worldwide nuclear war. This is a result of the time period as the Cold War era witnessed an increase in scare for a potential nuclear war, so V for Vendetta focuses on Great Britain as it has already been affected by this event. The sub-genre of post-apocalyptic fiction is essentially a product of the Cold War era. Many authors do not go into detail of the disaster that has occurred in their work, as does Alan Moore, because it geared primarily to focus on the result of this catastrophe. It focuses instead on the setting, the characters, and how the characters act as a result of the disaster. Although this sub-genre is a significant aspect of V for Vendetta, there is more emphasis on the resulting state of the United Kingdom. It has been left in complete turmoil and this has lead to a dystopia, which is a futuristic version of society that is characterized by poor living conditions. These people live oppressed lives and are forced to live in terror resulting in unhappiness and suffering. This is certainly evident in Alan Moore's work.
The Nosefire regime in V for Vendetta by instilling fear in its people and using coercive force as a way of subduing them to do what they want. This government institution oppressed its people as they saw necessary so that they could obtain complete power and control over the affairs of the United Kingdom. There existed racial-purity laws and they aggressively pursued the persecution of all homosexuals. Similar to Nazi Germany, there existed death camps in the United Kingdom. V, himself, was a prisoner at a concentration camp, Larkhill. He was forcibly used to take part in a type of medical testing, in which he was given hormonal injections of a drug called "Batch 5". He was eventually able to escape from the camp, and was the only prisoner to survive. In addition, the treatment of homosexuals is illustrated in one part of the graphic novel where Evey has found a letter from Valerie. Valerie was an actress who had been imprisoned for being a lesbian. This, again, draws upon the Nazi's persecution of homosexuals. Perhaps Moore was attempting to highlight the Nazi regime through the Nosefire party. Another intriguing aspect of the Nosefire regime is how Alan Moore and David Lloyd defined their colors and symbols. They utilized the red and black color scheme and a cross / swastika looking logo as the basis for the parties identification. This draws correlation to the Nazi party as the colors are the same and symbols are very much alike. Another comparison to the Nazi government exists in how they coin their leader. Instead of calling Adam Susan "President" and "Prime Minister," they referred to him as "Leader". Hitler's formal title was "Fuhrer," but he was informally referred to as "Leader". In addition, the titles President and Prime Minister are used primarily in democratic countries. The Nosefire regime is attempting to remove all the old government structures and essentially establish an entirely new nation and laws. This regime embraces corporatism, in which all aspects of society, such as agriculture, military, and business must associate themselves with the state. Essentially, they are organs to the larger being of the entire nation. For example, the police force is known as the nose and the state-controlled media is known as the mouth. The content and wordage of V for Vendetta correlates well with the pictures that are integrated into the story.
The images are an important aspect to V for Vendetta. In my opinion, the graphic novel offers it readers with a wealth of information and without the artwork; many parts of the story would be difficult to understand because the reader would not have access to character appearances and the setting. Specifically, the themes and plot would be affected if V for Vendetta was not done in the form of graphic novel. The visual images assist significantly in building conflict. They created intensity in several scenes of this graphic novel, and without them V for Vendetta would lack some of the crucial elements of a normal written book. David Lloyd's artwork truly enhances the words written by Alan Moore because they are informative and detailed, and they account for a significant portion of the story's plot.
Lloyd's use of color is quintessential to establishing the scene. In some cases, he uses it to portray emotions, but the utilization of color schemes helps portray the setting and time-of-day. For example, the sky is typically illustrated in blue colors to dictate the time-of-day. Lloyd uses darker shades of blue to indicate that it is nighttime. Another interesting use of color in V for Vendetta was the use of grey clouds. This was done to indicate that there was a storm approaching by means of an actual storm or figurative storm where there would be in an intense scene. In addition, I found that some scenes were different than others. These were the ones where Evey was in the physical presence of V. These panels are vibrant, multi-color images which gives the reader a sense of fantasy. Lloyd's intention in these panels was to depict how Evey felt safe in the presence of V as she was living in another world, different from the actual world they were exposed to.
Lloyd's use of background is another significant aspect of this graphic novel. In several scenes, he places hidden or underlying shapes and figures in the backdrop of the panel to convey a certain idea. For example, in one frame on pg. 24 a swastika-like symbol is being marched through the background. I believe that the reason for this is to jumpstart ideas about Nazi Germany so that the reader may compare and relate the Nosefire regime to the Nazi regime. Also, Lloyd uses background in his panels as a way of foreshadowing upcoming events and to express irony throughout V for Vendetta. This concept is exemplified in a panel on pg. 48 where there is a portrayal of Les Miserables in the background. Having seen the play, I was able to conclude that there would be some type of uprise against the government. There are also several ironic aspect of David Lloyd's illustrations. One is clearly evident on pg. 21 where those officers in charge of enforcing the law rape a young woman. It is ironic because in the background hangs a sign that reads "Strength through purity, purity through faith." Another idea that Scott McCloud touches upon in Understanding Comics is the concept of invisible messages, which have been incorporated in V for Vendetta. The invisible message is that which conveys a certain idea or notion without the use of verbal expression. This is exemplified by when the characters have sweat dripping from their foreheads. Although, the Moore never actually states that they are nervous, the reader can induce this concept. The mask is another significant part of the graphic novel, as the entire mystery of V revolves around his wearing of the Guy Fawkes mask. According to McCloud, the purpose of the mask is the make the hero represent "everyman".
V for Vendetta is a unique and compelling account of despair and anarchy in a near-future version of the United Kingdom that has been devastated by a worldwide nuclear disaster. As a result, the new totalitarian government is enforcing its will upon the public and has become a domineering force in the country. V is the heroic, yet mysterious protagonist in Moore's work as he attempts to single-handedly tear down the government. Moore's work highlights numerous sub-genres, but the most appealing to me was the genre of post-apocalyptic fiction, in which the world has experienced some catastrophic event. The theme of fascism and complete government control is evident throughout the novel as seen through the rule of the Nosefire regime and their ruthless tactics. The combined forces of Moore and Lloyd truly make for a detailed story. The artwork goes hand-in-hand with what is actually being said in the word bubbles and is able to convey to the reader even what the words do not. Through the use of color, background, and symbols David Lloyd gives his characters distinct personalities. I found V for Vendetta to be an extremely enjoyable read and I will continue to read Alan Moore's works as he has become my favorite author of graphic novels.