V for Vendetta image via Warner Bros.

When creative genius Alan Moore wrote V for Vendetta in 1982, he couldn’t have foreseen the rise of Anonymous, the online group of hacktivists who took up his protagonist’s facemask as their public identity. But Moore (who also wrote the brilliant Watchmen in 1986) is pleased that they did.

In an essay published by the BBC, Moore wrote,

“It also seems that our character’s charismatic grin has provided a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre that are clearly well-suited to contemporary activism, from Madrid’s Indignados to the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

The anonymizing mask used in V for Vendetta to hide V’s presumably scarred face has its own militant history. It was originally a mask that represents Guido (Guy) Fawkes, the Catholic who was accused of the “gunpowder plot” to blow up the Palace of Westminster in London in 1605; Fawkes was then sentenced and executed.

According to Wikipedia, artist David Lloyd didn’t think of Fawkes as a traitor but as an antihero. Lloyd told Moore, “We shouldn’t burn the chap every Nov. 5th but celebrate his attempt to blow up Parliament.” Moore embraced the idea. The character of V systematically destroys a totalitarian England whose citizens live in fear.

Moore—who noted that the words “fascism” or “anarchy” were never mentioned at any point in the 2005 Warner Bros. movie—wrote,

“As for the ideas tentatively proposed in that dystopian fantasy thirty years ago, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that whatever usefulness they afford modern radicalism is very satisfying…it feels something like V for validation.”