The artwork of David Lloyd

April 28th, 2015

Brianne Thyen


The Artist Behind V for Vendetta

            When it comes to the graphic novel V for Vendetta, the first page, you have a statement from Alan Moore. Alan Moore's name and opinions, due to his fantastic writing, are very well known. But what would the novel be without the pictures? I think of how great the story is, and the style of David Lloyd's artistry is unlike most graphic novels. David Lloyd brings the entire story to life for us in a way that can’t be compared to anyone else. I became more intrigued with the man behind the art, rather than the man behind the words. As the saying goes, “A picture has a thousand words” and David Lloyd tells us part of a story that can’t be told with just narratives.

            Most graphic novels have many similar looking body style characters, intense line work, and flat graphic colors. The way Lloyd creates the scene in this book gives it a mood that blends perfectly with Alan Moore's writing, and gives so much more to the book than just a series of images. If you look at the bigger picture, where would protesters in the world be without the Guy Fawkes masks that was essentially designed and created by Lloyd himself?

Artwork Style

(Scene from Night Raven comic)

            Lloyd's style of artwork has a different dynamic when compared to other comics. In a video interview with Heri Mkocha in 2009, Lloyd states that in regards to the dark and moody style, “That’s just me, and my personality. If your personality is not in your artwork, then who are you?"  Anyone that has read the book can see the intense use of thick shadows and intense line work. He likes to avoid contour lines, which gives his artwork a more interesting style than the norm. When asked about it further, Lloyd stated that he never wants stuff to look boring. To achieve his different style he often used many different tools and effects to get what he desired; he first wanted to excite and interest himself in what he is doing.

            At the time of his learning, there weren't many instruction books or tools that were available especially to a self-taught artist. Due to the lack of information, he experimented with all mediums to get the look and feel he wanted. The colors of the comic even seem watery and moody, but Lloyd comments that the printing at the time washed out the original colors he has used in the comics; due to the time period of publishing. Lloyd's original intended colors for the V for Vendetta comic were supposed to be even darker, and de-saturated due to the setting of the book being a very dark and unhappy place. The methods for printing at the time the book was published actually brightened the colors of the comic book. Since that time, Lloyd has found himself working a lot with computer graphics to boost the colors of his images so they turn out closer to his intentions.

            Lloyd’s style is in a different league that other artists, and a lot of that style would come from his unconventional upbringing in the art world. Lloyd started making comics in a time where art schools didn’t take comic artists seriously. He also had a lack of resources to use to try to advance his craft, and the results when left to his own devices are the graphic novels we have grown to love.

Lloyds Learning Background

            Lloyd had many influences that helped create his style; he worked as an apprentice commercial artist in an advertising studio when he was growing up. Under the guidance of the advertising studio, he learned how to appeal to comic readers through his images. Lloyd eventually left all his odd jobs behind to be his own boss. He eventually worked for Marvel Comics UK, to work on a series called Night Raven. Night Raven would eventually influence a lot of the style decisions made in V for Vendetta. With his work shown in Night Raven, many people started to notice the difference in his technique. Lloyd was able to convey more dramatic angles, characterization, and body language in his work as opposed to a lot of other comic artists at the time.

            Interestingly enough, David Lloyd is a self-taught sequential artist. Sequential art meaning it is an art form that uses images deployed in sequences for graphic novels or storytelling to convey information. Lloyd doesn't suggest going the self-taught route though. When asked about what he thought about art school, he seemed on the fence about the subject saying that one “Should go to art school for a good grounding.”  On the latter, he also feels that in art schools students are often fed a lot of information that they don't need. In a nice bit of advice, Lloyd comments “Just become as good an artist as you can, you have to be self-taught, and it's good to go to school." Lloyd doesn’t necessarily say that one should go to college ,but in many interviews he suggest classes and schooling in art to help you get started with the base of your knowledge.

Lloyd on Politics and Society

            David Lloyd’s views on society become very clear through the expanse of his work. The first comic he worked on for marvel, Night Raven, was seen as very similar to V for Vendetta because it involved a masked vigilante in a corrupt society. Lloyd states that without Night Raven, V would not exist. Many of the scenes in Night Raven look vaguely familiar to some of the scenes in V for Vendetta. In Lloyd’s newer comic (2006) Kickback, it focuses on corrupt police force, which is a reappearing theme in his work. During an interview with Joe Gordon from Forbidden Planet International, Lloyd was asked about what interests him in the reoccurring theme of corruption and misuse of power. Lloyd comments that:

            “Corruption is interesting because we’re all prone to it. But, actually the theme that seems to carry through my work…is that of the basically decent person corrupted by circumstances beyond their control, and that wrecking influence on our best intentions can come from inside us, our flawed genetic makeup.”

            Lloyd also had an interview with Daniel Robert Epstein on his political views and the film adaptation for V for Vendetta. Lloyd makes it clear that he always had strong social leanings and has been very liberal most of his life. Lloyd states that:

             “People have a tendency to go for strong governments when really, from an idealistic point of view, it’s a bad thing. People accept a government that will be strong if they think it’s looking after them. They will accept all kinds of judgements.”

            He goes on to further explain that V for vendetta is like a mythical situation on what could possibly happen, and warning against it. When Lloyd and Moore began V for Vendetta, it was their way to be more politically active. Lloyd found being an artist and a writer a great way to express your views and opinions in a way that wasn’t preaching to people. As opposed to Alan Moore, Lloyd doesn’t believe that anarchy is a politically viable system, but enjoys being able to put forward his viewpoint.

            Not many people know that Lloyd was the original designer behind the Guy Fawkes mask. When asked about what he thought about the mask becoming an icon he comments:

            “The mask is a symbol of political protest, and I think it's terrific that it is a symbol of rebellion against tyranny. There are so few of those in art and the mask has pushed that forward."

V for Vendetta Movie

            Many people know Alan Moore’s opinion on the movie adaptation for V for Vendetta. He was more or less, unimpressed and even wanted his name to be removed from the film as well as the comic book. But in contrast Lloyd embraced the movie, feeling that it reached a lot more people, and drove them to read the graphic novel. He also felt that the movie captured the spirit of the book, and was very understanding when the Wachowski brothers made some changes in the story to make it more fit for a movie. Where Alan Moore was upset with the movie changes and wanted zero interaction with the process, Lloyd spent a lot of time on the set, and even made small minor changes to the script when asked his thoughts.

Closing Thoughts

            By now it’s very obvious David Lloyd is different than most. He has captured and created a world that could only be conveyed in V for Vendetta through his artwork. He never got the training that most people get today in comic booking, and worked hard to make it his career. Lloyd also created a figure with his Guy Fawkes mask design used all over the world in political protests, which I feel is an accomplishment that many artists never think of or only dream of.  So we may hear a lot about Alan Moore in the comic book world when we think of the novel V for Vendetta, but David Lloyd truly gave it a life that would not have been accomplished without him. 

Bibliography/ Works Cited