V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd features a near-future fascist dystopia to rival anything seen in We, 1984, or Fahrenheit 451. Nightmarish governmental departments control the populace suppressing their freedom and identities. The imagery of the Guy Fawkes mask worn by the character V has become recognized worldwide as a symbol of fighting fascism. The mask has appeared at protests in the United States and on the global stage in England, Turkey, Thailand, and among the international hacker group Anonymous.
Originally published as a serial in 1982 in the British comics magazine Warrior, the story was reprinted and completed several years later in a ten-issue series published by DC. There have been numerous reprints as a graphic novel, and in 2005 it was adapted as a film bringing it to an even wider audience.
In 2021, Texas Representative Matt Krause included V For Vendetta on his list of 850 books he wants removed from school libraries. As of 2022, at least three school districts in Texas have removed the graphic novel. V For Vendetta was also involved in a school protest at Muncie Central High School in Muncie, IN, in November 2021. Students participated in a poster project correlating the themes of V For Vendetta with current social issues. School resource officers took umbrage to the appearance of Black Lives Matter and criticism of police officers on the posters and had them removed. Students protested the removal, and the school responded by reverting back to remote learning for several days.
We’ve put together these resources for librarians and educators who may need assistance justifying or defending the addition of V for Vendetta to their collections. You can also reach out to Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary of V for Vendetta from the publisher:
Set in a futurist totalitarian England, a country without freedom or faith, a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask strikes back against the oppressive overlords on behalf of the voiceless. Armed with only knives and his wits, V, as he’s called, aims to bring about change in this horrific new world. His only ally? A young woman named Evey Hammond. And she is in for much more than she ever bargained for…
A visionary graphic novel that defines sophisticated storytelling, this powerful tale detailing the loss and fight for individuality has become a cultural touchstone and an enduring allegory for current events. Master storytellers Alan Moore and David Lloyd are at the top of their craft in this terrifying portrait of totalitarianism and resistance.
Praise for V for Vendetta
- “A darkly philosophical voice in the medium of comic books—a rare talent.” — The New York Times
- “Dark, gripping storytelling.” — Entertainment Weekly
- “Moore’s work has great depth. It shows a dirty world with ugly, fully-realized characters.” — IGN
- “A complex, involving narrative.” — The A.V. Club
Awards and Recognition
- 1990 Prize for Best Album (foreign) at the Angoulême International Comics Festival
- Top 100 English-Language Comics of the Century — The Comics Journal
- 100 Most Influential Novels — BBC News
What should I do if V For Vendetta is challenged?
Most challenges to comics in libraries come from well-meaning individuals, frequently parents, who find something they believe is objectionable in their local public or school library. These challenges are often difficult and stressful for the library staff who must manage them, but there are resources to help them in the process. Below we’ve identified a number of tips and links to assist libraries to increase the likelihood of keeping challenged comics on the shelves.
1. Make Strong Policies.
Strong selection and challenge review policies are key for protecting access to library materials, including comics. The American Library Association has developed a number of excellent tools to assist school and public libraries in the essential preparation to perform before books are challenged here.
2. Face the Challenge.
What do you do when a comic is challenged? Much of the material in this post can be used to help defend V for Vendetta against a challenge. The American Library Association has developed these helpful tools to cope with challenges:
- How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources
- Working with Community Leaders
- Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, and Academic Libraries
CBLDF can also help by providing assistance with locating review resources, writing letters of support, and facilitating access to experts and resources. Email email@example.com at the first sign of a First Amendment emergency!
3. Report the Challenge.
Another essential step in protecting access to comics is to report challenges when they occur. By reporting challenges, you help the free expression community gather necessary information about what materials are at risk so better tools can be created to assist. To report a challenge to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, report it here or email it here. You can also report the challenge to the ALA here.
CBLDF and its partners have been battling ongoing and organized attempts to censor comics and other books in schools and libraries. You can join the struggle by making a donation or reporting censorship today!