Whether it be Anonymous standing up to Scientology or protestors in Zuccotti Park, the Guy Fawkes mask has become an iconic protest symbol. The mask was originally created by Warner Bros. to promote the 2005 film V for Vendetta. It has since taken on a life of its own.
“The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny — and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way,” British graphic novel artist David Lloyd, who illustrated the original graphic novel that ran in the 1980s, told the BBC.
Guy Fawkes, of course, was a real man, who tried to blow up British Parliament in the early 17th century. Ve for Vendetta, first serialised in 1982, was set in the UK in 1997 as the country was feel under dictatorship.
While famed graphic novelist Alan Moore penned V for Vendetta, it was Lloyd who came up with the idea of dressing protagonist V in a Guy Fawkes mask.
“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?” the reclusive Moore recently told The Guardian. “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.”
For Moore, the mask’s appearance is haunting, and like Lloyd, he can see why protestors are drawn to it. According to Moore, “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.”
The mask, which sell about 100,000 units a year, have become a steady earner for Warner Bros. Anonymous apparently has its masks imported directly from the Chinese factories to bypass the corporate till, while others have been making their own masks.
“It’s a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest,” added Moore, who is not personally connected to any of the protests.
“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 said. “I find it more funny than irksome.”