Behind the Mask

Voilà! How V for Vendetta sparked a real-life revolution

“Vi veri veniversum vivus vici.”

Since it first appeared in the Warrior anthology in 1982, V for Vendetta has become more than just a beloved comic.

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Alexander Williams

“We’re taking visitors through the characters’ experience from being victims of the fascist regime through learning to stand up what they believe in, find their voice, and come together with other people.”

— Emma Stirling-Middleton

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“For [illustrator David Lloyd], I think it’s quite surreal how huge it has become. He’s humble about his role. The life art takes on after it’s been created, he’s detached from it and sees it as something beyond him.”

— Emma Stirling-Middleton

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“They took in so much inspiration from pop culture, from art history, from politics, but also from the social context of 1980s Britain.

This is the era that Margaret Thatcher was in power and there was a great deal of social unrest.”

— Emma Stirling-Middleton

Erik Mclean

Before V for Vendetta left its mark on real-world protests, it was part of a wave of comics that helped transform the medium in the public eye.


Until the ‘80s, comics were largely seen as “something for children, not of any great quality — low art that would never be looked at as part of literature or art,” Stirling-Middleton tells Inverse.

“When things like V for Vendetta came out, it made people realize that graphic novels were incredibly powerful works of art and literature. That led to an entirely reshaped industry. It’s perceived and consumed differently, and the things that people are making have expanded exponentially.”

— Emma Stirling-Middleton

Tracing the path from indie comic strip to Hollywood film and symbol of protest, V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask runs until Sunday, October 31 at The Cartoon Museum in London.