BANGKOK, Thailand -- The British artist who drew the "V For Vendetta"
graphic novel and movie character's white pointy-chinned face mask
which now disguises anti-government protesters, Anonymous hackers and
others worldwide, says concealing your identity in public can protect
against police torture and death squads.
   "I think what Edward Snowden is doing, and what Anonymous is doing,
they are doing what they think is a good thing," Mr. Lloyd said in an
interview during a March 22 to March 29 exhibition of his work at
Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.
   "The V mask itself? It's good to have a symbol that unifies. So if
you're wearing something as a mask that unifies and actually says
something -- says what you are doing, and is in sympathy with some
sort of concept -- that's good because it's a unification.
   "But any mask is quite acceptable. Everybody has the right to go
out on the street as an individual citizen, masked or otherwise, to
   "Your identity is not important. The fact that you are there as a
citizen on the streets, that's what's important," Mr. Lloyd, 65, said.
   In the early 1980s, "V For Vendetta" began as a graphic novel when
illustrator Mr. Lloyd collaborated with writer Allen Moore.
   In 2006, when "V For Vendetta" became a Hollywood film success
starring Natalie Portman as Evey who is recruited by the anarchistic V
character, Mr. Lloyd's iconic mask began inspiring people in real life
struggling for freedom and other causes.
   "The only thing that the anonymity is important to, are the police
and the people who come out and film all the [protest] crowds, because
they want somebody they can identify and target and -- in certain
police states -- can intimidate and grab and torture and disappear if
they wish to," Mr. Lloyd said.
   Wearing a mask while protesting is "the old simple honest value of
being able to protect yourself from identification. That is not part
of the crime concept. It's part of being an individual with a right to
guard your identity," Mr. Lloyd said.
   The Warner Bros. movie is described in promotional ads as "set
against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain" which
originally appeared in the graphic novel as stark, black-and-white ink
drawings by Mr. Lloyd.
   "V ignites a revolution when he detonates two London landmarks and
takes over the government-controlled airwaves, urging his fellow
citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression," the movie's
description says.
   "I didn't want to just come into this as a self-confessed anarchist
and say 'Right, here's this anarchist. He's the good guy. Here are all
the fascists. They're the bad guys'.  That's trivial and insulting to
the reader," Mr. Moore reportedly said while collaborating with Mr.
   "I wanted to present some of the fascists as being ordinary and, in
some instances, even likeable human beings," Mr. Moore said.
   Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Moore also decided the V character's costume and
behavior would echo England's notorious Guy Fawkes who was hanged in
1606 for participating in a Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament in
   Though Mr. Lloyd is protective of anti-government protesters'
rights, he does not oppose England's extensive use of public
closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras monitoring people on streets,
public vehicles and in some buildings.
   "Surveillance helps to actually find the identity of criminals. It
doesn't actually stop the crime from happening, that's the big problem
of surveillance," Mr. Lloyd said.
   "I think the individual's right to privacy is important. But it
doesn't overtake the need to examine what people are doing, whether
they are doing something that you can actually see is against society
or is going to cause harm to people.
   "We have lots of CCTV cameras in England. I think we have the most
in Europe. But they are all doing what they are supposed to be doing,
which is looking after the streets," Mr. Lloyd said.
   "I think the line stops when it's actually in your private abode."
   Instead of cyberspace, he fears Orwellian corporations controlling
the planet's population, resources and laws.
   "We are moving towards an Orwellian society because we're moving
into a situation where whatever you do, you can't change anything. The
government, it seems to me, more and more of the government is a kind
of front. It's a kind of fake.
   "And the world, especially the global system, is run by
corporations. And you can't do anything with the corporations. You
can't vote the corporations out of power. The corporations run all
these trade agreements that they are setting up, just so that you
can't do anything against them.
   "The corporations are running the show. I think that is Orwellian.
Because in a situation like that, you have enemies being made so that
they serve the purposes of the ruling powers. So if there are no
enemies, then they will make an enemy so the people will have
something -- or something to distract the people from the real
   Mr. Lloyd, based in Brighton, England, said if he were an American
he would vote for Bernie Sanders to be the next U.S. president.
   "Bernie Sanders obviously.  Because he is obviously a man of
conviction and he's offering something that hasn't been offered by a
politician before," Mr. Lloyd said.
   "And while I am watching with grim fascination what is happening in
politics in the U.S., I hope it doesn't work out as badly as it looks
like it might.
   "Donald Trump...he seems to be pressing all the wrong buttons in
order to get a society that is a cohesive and smoothly running
machine. Everything that he's doing seems to be divisive in some way.
   "I can certainly understand his appeal. And he is an admirable
character, from the point of view of watching him operate. But then
you know, Hitler was an admirable speaker and orator and you could
admire him, but it's that same thing."
   Mr. Lloyd now spends much of his time running his online publishing
venture which attracts paid subscriptions to
comics drawn by more than 100 artists.
   Anonymous activists and critics meanwhile debate the V mask's
strengths and weaknesses, especially when it is sometimes worn by
neo-Nazis and others who they perceive as enemies.
   For example on Tuesday (March 29), Anonymous @blackplans posted a
photo on his Twitter account which he described as "in #Belgium a
bunch of neo-nazi skinheads stormed a memorial, yup many of them
wearing the goddamn Fawkes mask."
   In response, Andrew Kelly @Andrew84Killy wrote: "the mask means
nothing anymore, it's a generic symbol of protest now. Such a shame."
   Anonymous @blackplans, who has more than 26,000 followers, replied:
"The mask was always a convenience, V For Vendetta was a popular movie
and the masks were easy to get a hold of."
   He said his Twitter account "will champion the three basic tenets
of #Anonymous, defending the right to #anonymity, opposing #censorship
and providing #lulz in liberal doses."
   Jack @GeekyJack20 said: "I think it makes anonymous look weak
hiding behind masks."
   Anonymous @blackplans advised him: "Don't ever break the law kiddo,
you don't have the right mindset."
   Mr. Lloyd's exhibition at Chulalongkorn University was organized by
Faculty of Communication Arts lecturer Nicolas Verstappen.
   Mr. Verstappen, from Belgium, teaches Graphic Writing through
History and Aesthetics of Comics Art and Comics Composition exercises,
plus other courses including Imaginative Media Studies, and Aesthetic
Communication Theory and Criticism.
   "I suggested inviting David Lloyd as a distinguished guest, to mark
the growing scholarly interest in the comics art form here at
Chulalongkorn University, in Southeast Asia, and abroad," Mr.
Verstappen said in an interview.
   "Having known David Lloyd for many years -- through interviews and
events organized with him in Brussels at Multi BD comics bookstore
where I was working at the time -- he kindly accepted the invitation
to hold a public talk and various workshops.
   "A master class and a portfolio review roundtable were designed for
Thai artists [who are] debuting or professional cartoonists and
illustrators. A second master class was aimed at the students of the
Graphic Writing course of our faculty," he said.
   "The invitation of David Lloyd to hold a public talk and to present
his works in an exhibition at the Faculty of Communication Arts was of
great interest to the students through the first-hand discussion about
the essential graphic novel 'V For Vendetta', its movie adaptation,
the designing, meaning and popularity of the iconic Guy Fawkes mask"
and other topics, Mr. Verstappen said.