News Comic Book News Event News | Written by Martin Unsworth 02/08/2021

The Cartoon Museum Re-opens with V FOR VENDETTA: BEHIND THE MASK

London’s popular attraction The Cartoon Museum has opened its doors following lockdown and has a superb exhibition running that shouldn’t be missed!

V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask explores and celebrates the Alan Moore/David Lloyd classic comic strip and the film adaptation as well as the massive cultural impact the story and imagery has had. The exhibition is open now - with no booking required - and runs until October 31st, 2021.

From the press release:

The exhibition comes at an appropriate time when interest in V for Vendetta continues to rise. Original pages of David Lloyd’s work have been sold at auction for over £20,000, while the graphic novel continues to top bestseller lists four decades after its original release. As well as the high-profile loans from Warner Bros, The Cartoon Museum will also display three original V for Vendetta covers from the initial run in Warrior magazine.

Illustrated by David Lloyd and written by Alan Moore, the central character of the masked and mysterious ‘V’ became an iconic symbol of comics, cinema and the hacker group, Anonymous. Its cultural impact, spanning nearly 40 years, is explored through 36 original artworks by David Lloyd, including black and white pages and colour paintings. These will be displayed alongside the original mask worn by Hugo Weaving in Warner Bros.’ blockbuster 2005 movie adaptation, one of only three that were used during production, as well as costume designs and storyboards.  V for Vendetta first ran as a black-and-white strip between 1982 and 1985, in Warrior, a British anthology comic published by Quality Communications. It was one of the comic’s most popular strips, but Warrior was soon cancelled after only 26 issues due to low sales. Three years later, DC Comics – famously the publishers of Batman and Superman titles – persuaded Moore and Lloyd to let them give V a new home.

From then, Lloyd’s illustrations and Moore’s storylines - portraying a moody and bleak futuristic vision of Britain, suffering from an almost apocalyptic nuclear destruction and the ravages of a neo-fascist state - became one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all time. It is in this setting where V wages a seemingly solo war against the totalitarian government and is eventually aided by Evey, a young woman who is victimised by the regime and decides to take action.

The exhibition launches at a time when perhaps inspired by the fears and anxieties of the time in the UK, audiences may see V for Vendetta in a new light, following a pandemic year that recharged debates over rights, Government control and citizenship.  Visitors will also be able to get up close to the real mask that Hugo Weaving wore in his role as V in the 2005 film. The mask is one of only three that were made for the film and perhaps was the turning point that transformed the Guy Fawkes-inspired disguise from recognizable pop culture to global phenomenon, seen around the world in all manner of protests from across the political spectrum.

V for Vendetta, adapted by the Wachowskis fresh from the completion of The Matrix trilogy, became a box office smash and led a new generation to the comic. Original costume designs by Sammy Sheldon Differ, who subsequently worked on Marvel’s Ant-Man and the upcoming Eternals, will also be on display, showing how David Lloyd’s creations were interpreted for the screen. These will also be accompanied by the original storyboards for a scene in which V plans a daring raid on a TV station, designed by long-time Wachowski collaborator Axel Eichhorst. The iconography and themes of V for Vendetta, and how they have spread from the page and screen into people’s lives, will also be a major focus of Behind the Mask. In the movie, the mantle of the mask passes from V to Evey but in the finale, we see thousands of ‘ordinary people’ don their own masks. This prompts the exhibition to explore the idea of self-expression through protest – anyone can be V, so where does the line between anarchism and protest sit for the individual? The exhibition explores the voices of protesters in the real world, all under the looming presence of the 21st century’s most recognisable protest art – the mask of V.

Tickets are available from The Cartoon Museum Box Office and merchandise can be purchased from The Cartoon Museum Shop.

Opening times for The Cartoon Museum are 10.30am - 5.30pm Tuesday - Sunday, except Thursday when it’s open until 8pm. Closed Mondays.

You can find The Cartoon Museum at 63 Wells Street, Fitzovia, London, W1A 3AE.