No One Contacted David Lloyd About Pennyworth & V For Vendetta

Forty years ago in 1982, David Lloyd and Alan Moore created V For Vendetta, a creator-owned comic strip for Dez Skinn's Warrior Magazine. Through various shenanigans, it was later published and completed by DC Comics in a deal that would see the publishing rights returned when the comic went out of print. V for Vendetta, a story of anarchism vs fascism, one man's war to destabilize a government, was among the very first American comic book not to go out of print. This led to a V For Vendetta movie by the Wachowskis for Warner Bros. which brought even greater fame to the comic book, and popularised the Guy Fawkes mask that had previously been made by DC Comics promotional department, and first handed out a British comics convention by Bob Wayne twenty odd years ago, amongst protest groups. I still have mine.

University Of Northampton Labels V for Vendetta For Upsetting Material

Alan Moore has disowned an interest in V For Vendetta as a result of these issues with DC Comics, asks that he not be credited for adaptations and that any royalties he is due be paid to David Lloyd instead. But it appears David Lloyd has not heard about anything he may be owed for the latest twist in that story.

When launching the TV series Pennyworth, about the early days of Batman's butler Alfred Pennyworth in London, the co-creator of the show Danny Cannon stated "The arching story this season is about a civil war that's brewing. That came from a conversation with myself and Bruno where we were considering doing V for Vendetta. That's very much an '80s or '90s kind of show…what would it be in the '60s? What kind of world would we have to create? Like in Gotham, there will eventually be Batman and in this there will eventually be V for Vendetta. So, we took this brewing civil war as a stepping stone. England is just fresh out of a war, looking to get into another war. We don't know what deals it's made with other countries because the Second World War ended differently. It's about espionage, it's almost like Funeral in Berlin or all those Cold War dramas. Michael Caine films became our influences." Given the performance of Jack Bannon as Pennyworth, you don't say. It's a world in which the German Nazi regime wasn't defeated, just curtailed. In which the British Empire still held India. and in which the USA was less of an international powerhouse. But….. V For Vendetta?

Thing is, no one seemed to take this literally at the time. Pennyworth showed the rise of a fascist government in a London that was somewhere in the fifties, sixties or seventies, with deliberate anachronisms all over the place, including live televised executions.  The second season saw that government take power and for Pennyworth to shag Queen Elizabeth as part of destabilising the regime. That seemed to be the limit of the V for Vendetta influence, how one many who inspires others can bring down a government. The third season has seen the regime defeated but existing as an underground network, looking to return. And it is in that context that suddenly the inspiration becomes literal. And at the conclusion of the most recent episode, we saw V appear in Pennyworth for the first time, about to interrogate a shackled individual.

No One Contacted David Lloyd About Pennyworth & V For Vendetta
Pennyworth screencap

One of the appeals of Pennyworth is its absolute batshit crazy attitude towards history and culture, grabbing fiction and reality and mashing them up in a gallery of iconic imagery taken from the fifties, sixties and seventies London. Everyone and everything from Michael Caine to the Krays to teddy boys to Aleister Crowly, to Sandy Shaw to Myra Hindley gets reinterpreted for the show, while Thomas Wayne, Martha Wayne, their five-year old only daughter Sam, Lucius Fox, a Prime Minister with Asian heritage, a Queen Elizabeth who is up for it, and cyborg patriotic superheroes getting drunk in the bookies. But despite being an American show, its observations about how Brits actually speak and behave with one another was streets ahead of the attempt in the V for Vendetta movie. It's exaggerated but utterly recognisable, including suburban family life, pub culture, city nightspots and the different boxes in which we place oursekves. No one is making eggy-in a-blanket, instead someone is always putting the kettle on for a brew.

No One Contacted David Lloyd About Pennyworth & V For Vendetta
Pennyworth screencap

And now V for Vendetta. I was talking to David Lloyd who told me that had no idea this was happening, and has received no notice from DC Comics or Warner Bros. regarding this and only just found out in an interview he was taking part in, and had to plead ignorance. He is also not credited on the show, the only comics credits are those that say the show is "based on characters created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger" but it is safe to say that V is not one of them. Will anything change for the fifth episode, airing on HBO MAX tomorrow?

No One Contacted David Lloyd About Pennyworth & V For Vendetta
Pennyworth screencap

Remember remember, it's V for Vendetta's fortieth birthday this year, and the 5th of November is coming up rather sharpish. Alan Moore has a new book out, Illuminations, and David Lloyd continues to be one of the most dedicated digital comic book publishers in the field, with Aces Weekly. Go check it out.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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