V For Vendetta at the Society of Illustrators

Sorry I went M.I.A. for a couple of weeks there.

As I said in my last column, I’ve been busy lately. I’m working full time again, and since January, most of my spare time has been spent researching, writing, and interviewing people for a 19.500-word oral history of Batman: The Animated Series for BACK ISSUE #99, along with a 6000-word Harley Quinn history for the same issue. So yeah, I’ve got stuff going on. Which is good. Tiring, but good.

But a couple of weeks ago, I was ready for a break. Which is why I decided to head into NYC on April 15th and see some of David Lloyd’s original art from V For Vendetta at the Society of Illustrators.

I see events like these on Facebook all the time, and like a lot of people, I initially want to go and then I end up not making it for one reason or another. But one of the nice things about doing this column is that it’s made me a little more adventurous in life. A few times now, “Well, maybe I’ll get a column out of it” has given me the extra push I needed to do something. And I knew the perfect guy to invite along on this adventure: my old buddy Kevin Colden.

Kevin Colden John Trumbull
This is us. Kevin on the left, me on the right.

You may know Kevin as the Eisner Award nominated, Xeric Grant winning author of Fishtown, I Rule The Night and illustrator of The Sweetness (written by his wife, Miss Lasko-Gross), but to me, he’s just my pal Kevin. We first met about 17 years ago, through mutual friends at the Kubert School (we went there at different times) and trust me, as great as Kevin is as a cartoonist, he’s even better as a friend. I don’t get to see Kev much since he moved into the city, got married & had a kid, so it was fun for us to get together and catch up.

Kevin and I met up at the great Midtown Comics on 40th, not too far from Penn Station. From there, we walked towards Grand Central Station to take us over to the Society of Illustrators. This took us by Bryant Park, where, since it was April 15th, the big Trump tax protest was going on:

I snapped this with my iPhone as we passed by the protest. Speakers were rallying the crowd as we squeezed past. Note the big Trump chicken right above the eyeball.

In retrospect, it’s kind of perversely appropriate that there was a big government protest happening while we were going to see original pages from V For Vendetta. It plays right into the themes of the book.

As we we continued on to the SOI on 63rd, I took a few tourist-like shots of NYC, since I don’t make it there too often these days. Here’s the MetLife Building, which some of you may recognize as the location of Avengers Tower in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Met Life Chrysler Building
Captain America, Iron Man and the others must’ve had the day off, though.

We went into Grand Central Station (which was kind of a geek thrill for me, as I was flashing on Lex Luthor’s secret hideout in Superman The Movie and the awesome waltzing sequence in Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King the whole time), took a couple of stops on the subway, and before we knew it, we were at the Society.

There was a Will Eisner retrospective in celebration of his 100th birthday happening on the ground floor, but unfortunately it was closed for a private viewing. Luckily, it’s continuing for a bit longer, so hopefully I’ll get another chance to see it.

The V For Vendetta pages were displayed on the second floor, in a long narrow hallway. Here’s the biography of David Lloyd that was displayed at the front of the exhibit:David Lloyd bio

And here’s the basics on V For Vendetta:

V For Vendetta Info

Like Marvelman, V For Vendetta started as a black & white feature in the weekly British anthology Warrior. The series was discontinued when Warrior came to an abrupt end in 1985. But when writer Alan Moore became a big name through his work on Swamp Thing and Watchmen at DC Comics, DC commissioned Moore and Lloyd to finish their story. The original segments were reprinted and colored in V For Vendetta #s 1-7, with newly-produced concluding chapters appearing in issues 8 through 10.

The story of V takes place in the UK, in the then near-future of 1997-98. Britain has become a fascist state in the wake of a brief nuclear war between the United States and Russia. The terrorist V, disguised in a Guy Fawkes mask, is determined to overthrow this fascist regime and replace it with his favored system: Anarchy. In the opening episode, V does his inspiration one better by successfully blowing up Parliament.

V For Vendetta cover David Lloyd
Here’s the original art for the cover of the DC/Vertigo trade paperback, with my silhouette as an extra bonus.
V For Vendetta cover issue 9 David Lloyd
And here’s the cover for issue #9, one of my favorites. Sorry about the reflection of the opposite wall in the glass.

Here are some of the pages we saw. I got all of these page numbers from the DC/Vertigo trade paperback of V that I bought in 1994, so it may vary from some other editions. Also, please be advised that some of these pages contain pivotal plot points from V For Vendetta, so SPOILER WARNINGS apply.

V For Vendetta David Lloyd Pg 12
Page 12, V’s first meeting with Evey. This page displays the black line art over a color guide. It looked like the colors were painted over a non-repro blue version of the line art, but it was hard to tell for sure. Unfortunately, there were no info cards for the individual pages.
V For Vendetta David Lloyd Pg 52
Page 52. If V wants to go someplace, there’s probably not much point in trying to keep him out.
V For Vendetta David Lloyd Pg 133
Page 133. A tentative romance begins between Gordon and Evey. I like how this page flashes forward and back through time. It also displays Lloyd’s elimination of holding lines, a technique that Steve Rude and Frank Miller have also used to great effect.
V For Vendetta David Lloyd Pg 210
Page 210. Detective Finch travels to the Larkhill Settlement Camp to solve the mystery of V. He also takes some LSD, like you do when you’re detecting.
V For Vendetta David Lloyd Pg 251
Page 251. Evey discovers her true destiny. Note the white correction paint in panel 7.
V For Vendetta David Lloyd Pg 255
Page 255. Helen Heyer comes home to a surprise. The poster art from Les Misérables was statted into the background of panel two in the finished book.

As you can see, Lloyd’s work is pretty stunning, and it’s always fun to look at original art and see where paste-ups or retouching occurred. It looks like all of the lettering was done via paste-ups, rather than directly on the boards. And even though the coloring in the DC version was great, Kevin and I agree that it’s a crying shame there’s never been a collected edition showing Lloyd’s pages in the original black & white. Can someone at DC get on that, please?

The Society of Illustrators is located at 128 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10065. Phone number (212) 838-2560. The David Lloyd exhibit is there until April 29th, with the Will Eisner Centennial Celebration continuing through June. More information and tickets are available here.

Back Issue 99 cover Harley Quinn Batman AnimatedBlatant Self-Promotion Department: As I mentioned above, I’ve written a sizable chunk of BACK ISSUE #99, all about the 25th Anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series. I got to interview most of the major players of the show, including Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Andrea Romano, Kevin Altieri, Dan Riba, Randy Rogel, Martin Pasko, and, in her first interview about BTAS, original story editor Sean Catherine Derek. For the Harley Quinn article, I spoke with Bruce Timm & Paul Dini, as well as former HQ writer Karl Kesel and Harley voice actresses Arleen Sorkin and Tara Strong. Oh, and I got to speak on the phone with some guy named Kevin Conroy. That was pretty cool.

As you can probably tell, I’m pretty proud of this one. I discovered some details about the history of BTAS that haven’t been told anywhere else, and I’ve gotten very positive feedback from my interviewees. Some of them even told me that they learned a thing or two about a show that they made! I got a sneak peek at BI designer Rich Fowlks’ layout for the BTAS article, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. BACK ISSUE #99 will be out in August, but you can pre-order it directly from TwoMorrows here. Or ask your local comic shop to order you a copy. If you’re any kind of fan of BTAS, you won’t want to miss this one!

This coming weekend (4/29-4/30), I’ll be at the East Coast Comicon at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. I’m moderating a panel about Marvel Comics in the Bronze Age with Bob Budiansky, Bob McLeod, Ann Nocenti, and Jim Salicrup on Saturday the 29th at 2:30pm. If you’re in the area, come by & check it out. Or just say hi if you see me walking around the con. ECC is a great, well-organized con, family friendly, with a nice variety of stuff to see and people to meet. Plus, unlike some other cons these days, you can actually walk the aisles. More information & tickets are available here.

Thanks for reading, and it’s good to be back. I’ll be back next week for my report on the East Coast Comicon. See you then!

7 Comments

  1. Jeff Nettleton

    Interesting that the bio mentions Marvel UK; but, not the work with which Lloyd is most associated: Night Raven. It was one of the original characters created at Marvel UK and a popular one. It also is the direct reason for the existence of V For Vendetta. Dez Skinn wanted features in Warrior that reflected the work he and his fellow creators had done at Marvel UK and V was to be Warrior’s Night Raven; a pulpy action-adventure-mystery title. of course, it became far more than that, along the way, just as Marvelman became more than their Captain Britain.

    1. Interesting that the bio mentions Marvel UK; but, not the work with which Lloyd is most associated: Night Raven. It was one of the original characters created at Marvel UK and a popular one.

      I’m guess that’s because Night Raven isn’t as well known in the US, Jeff. Over here Lloyd is much more known for V For Vendetta.

  2. Le Messor

    “It looks like all of the lettering was done via paste-ups, rather than directly on the boards.”

    I thought that was standard, mostly because the artwork and lettering are done by two different people.
    I was actually about to comment that I thought they hadn’t done that here (from the looks of things) and wasn’t that unusual?
    Asking as a non-professional who is working on a comic. I’m putting the lettering right into the artwork, btw.

    “It also displays Lloyd’s elimination of holding lines”
    I don’t know what that means?

    Also, just a little coincidence that amused me:
    I’ve been reading a DC Comics Ultimate Character Guide I was given a while ago, usually four characters a day.
    This morning, one of those characters was Harley Quinn.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Le Messor: Holding lines are just the lines that the artist draws, which s/he can then erase. Lloyd does this a lot – notice in the page with Evey smiling that her fugly blouse appears to fade into the background because the holding lines delineating the edge of the blouse are gone. In the final page posted, Helen’s face in the final panel is just shadows with no lines, because Lloyd got rid of them. It’s a neat technique that great artists can use to good effect.

      1. Yeah, sorry. Since I’m friends with a lot of cartoonists, I forget that the term “holding line” isn’t necessarily known by most laymen. You go to the Kubert School and you start to lose your perspective on these things. Thanks for stepping in to explain it, Greg!

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