SF magazine explores the enduring themes of V for Vendetta

By Michael Grossberg

V for Vendetta is one of only a handful of fiction works that have received Prometheus recognition twice – first as a graphic novel, inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, and second, as a feature film, which received a special Prometheus award.

So it’s nice to see a magazine article celebrating such popular art and exploring its resonant libertarian and anti-authoritarian themes.

Forty-two years after the initial publication of the graphic novel, Journey Planet 79, an online sf/fantasy journal, pays eloquent tribute to V for Vendetta and its creators: writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd.

The magazine’s stirring and cautionary remembrance is paired with “considerable amounts of Lloyd’s art,” according to File 770, and a fresh interview with Lloyd about the evolution of V for Vendetta in various forms over the decades.

“We share awareness of the dangers and the ease with which the slide to totalitarianism can occur, while appreciating a story that shares what is an ageless concern, through the medium of comics so brilliantly portrayed, art creating thoughtfulness,” the magazine editors say in their introduction.

The introduction references the evils of international aggression and the suppression of art and information.

Although the editors resort to cliches about “government and corporate incompetence and greed” (while apparently remaining blind to the far greater threats and evils stemming from power-lust and/or misguided true believers) and their statement explicitly criticizes only politicians of one partisan tribe (hint: not theirs), they seem to have good intentions and at least recognize that “politics is nasty” and “the balance is set against regular people.”

Hopefully, that glimmer of recognition of a dark reality might spark further reflection about the fundamentally coercive nature of government and how that institutionalized force inevitably tends to lead to a divisive, malignant and “nasty” politics in which a power-privileged elite benefits at the expense of the people.

But I didn’t really intend to criticize when I started writing this post. Instead, I’d prefer to applaud the magazine’s positive overall focus on an enduring work of popular art and the vision of the artists who created V for Vendetta.

Perhaps of greatest interest to Libertarian Futurist Society members is the magazine’s interesting discussion about the potential of comics and graphic novels for socio-political commentary.

The magazine issue, co-edited by Allison Hartman, Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon, can be downloaded here.

Thanks to File 770 for its timely sf-news reporting, which brought this to our attention!

* A “TWO-TIME” PROMETHEUS WINNER?

Although a strict LFS awards rule prohibits any previous Prometheus winner from being considered again for our award, that rule doesn’t apply to works that first appear in one form – such as a novel or graphic novel – and then are adapted later into a movie or TV series.

In such cases, the later adaptation may be eligible for separate and fresh consideration, most often within our occasional awards category for a Special Prometheus Award.

In the 45-year history of the Prometheus Award, only two works have been recognized twice within that specific context: The Probability Broach and V for Vendetta.

* In 1982, L. Neil Smith’s novel The Probability Broach won the award for best novel.

Decades later, when Smith and illustrator Scott Bieser adapted Smith’s signature/breakthrough novel into a graphic novel, it received a 2005 Special Award.

* In 2006, writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd’s graphic novel of V for Vendetta was inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame for Best Classic Fiction. Check out the Prometheus Blog appreciation.

And in 2007, the film version directed by James McTeigue with a screenplay by The Wachowski Brothers won a Special Prometheus Award.”

Here’s an excerpt from the Prometheus Blog Appreciation, explaining why the film deserved a separate award:

“As a film, V for Vendetta very much deserves its own separate recognition – and its own independent evaluation.

The film, like the graphic novel, is provocative in its depiction of anti-state violence. Libertarians and anarchists understand that such tactics can be dangerous, unethical and counterproductive – and worse, can often backfire and reinforce the State, first properly defined by the sociologist Max Weber as the only human institution with a legitimized monopoly on the use of force within a given geographical area.

“For the film, though, such violence raises the stakes in an already harsh future – and reinforces the style and scope of the story as a literally explosive action-thriller.

P.S. Notably, that was only the second time that the Prometheus Awards have recognized a feature film, following a 2006 Special Award to the film Serenity, written and directed by Joss Whedon.

As of 2024, no other film has been recognized by the Prometheus Award – although it’s worth mentioning, in terms of visual media, that Patrick McGoohan’s innovative and cinematic TV series The Prisoner won the 2022 Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE PROMETHEUS AWARDS:

* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – including the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series explaining why each of more than 100 past winners since 1979 fits the awards’ distinctive dual focus.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,”an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Watch videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

* Check out the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Facebook page  for periodic updates and links to Prometheus Blog posts.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction,join  the Libertarian Futurist Society, a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

 

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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