Umberto Rossi

Panel 2B: Comics and Sequential Narrative/2
Session 2 – July 1, 15:30 – 17:30

A for Anarchy, S for Spleen: About the Movie Transcodification of Moore & Lloyd’s V for Vendetta

Given the main theme of the conference, that is, transcodification, and the fact that two suggested areas of research are “inter/trans/crossmedial approaches to comics and graphic novels” and “Cinema/TV series and intermediality”, an interesting case study might be the adaptation of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s celebrated series V for Vendetta (1982-85), which was born as a series but can be read today as a veritable graphic novel, of the retrofuturist dystopian variety); this milestone of graphic narratives, often posited as one of the masterpieces which brought about the coming of age of the sequential art, was in fact turned into a movie directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowskis (2006). The passage from a printed, originally black and white graphic narrative to a color, special-FX dense movie was thus also a sort of space-and-time-travel: from the Thatcherite Britain of the 1980s to Bush’s post-9/11 USA of the Noughties.
This passage was not completely successful, according to Alan Moore, who famously deprecated the movie, as he declared in an interview that “It struck me that for Hollywood to make V for Vendetta, it was a way for thwarted and impotent American liberals to feel that they were making some kind of statement about how pissed off they were with the current situation without really risking anything,” so that “what had originally been a straightforward battle of ideas between anarchy and fascism had been turned into a kind of ham-fisted parable of 9-11 and the war against terror, in which the words anarchy and fascism appear nowhere”. Hence Moore accused the American screenwriters and director to have depoliticized V for Vendetta, so that they “can vent [their] spleen against George Bush and the neo-conservatives”. The purpose of my presentation will thus be to analyze the adaptation and check that such a process of depoliticization has actually taken place, or find traces of a different political agenda in the movie.


Umberto Rossi is an independent scholar, secondary school teacher, translator and literary journalist. He has published a monograph on Philip K. Dick’s novels (The Twisted Worlds of Philip K. Dick, 2011), edited with Paolo Simonetti a collection of essays on Thomas Pynchon’s V. (Dream Tonight of Peacock Tails, 2015) and published several academic articles on postmodernist fiction (focusing on Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, J.G. Ballard) and comics studies (Hugo Pratt, Alan Moore). He is a member of the ICLA (International Comparative Literature Association) research committee on graphic narratives and the Science Fiction Research Association.