David Lloyd speaks about his creative process in an exclusive interview.
“Remember remember, the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason, why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” These lines from V for Vendetta still resonate with most who have seen the movie or read the graphic novel. The man who created the character of V in this cult fiction work, and also added his flair to both DC and Marvel universes, David Lloyd speaks about his creative process in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
How did the image of Guy Fawkes for V for Vendetta come about?
It was a brainstorm of mine to have our basic template of an urban guerrilla adopt the costume, appearance, and persona of a past revolutionary after we’d both floundered in trying to find a ‘look’ and more character detail to adorn our protagonist with. It was just an accident of creativity — a bright idea — that turned out to be the perfect answer to the problem we were trying to solve. We created a new image for a villain from English history.
What was your brief when you were illustrating for V for Vendetta?
V For Vendetta grew from a very simple initial brief that I was given by the editor of an independent British comics magazine called Warrior to come up with a series about a ‘masked vigilante’ character. I was tasked with writing and drawing it all. But I asked Alan (Moore, writer) to join me on it because I recognised his obvious genius, which turned out to be a good idea.
How has your partnership with Alan been? Would you collaborate again?
I had a terrific time creating Vendetta with Alan, but that was a long time ago, when he was new to the business. He decided he wanted to work with lots of different artists after he worked with me, but I did work very happily with him once more on a charity project I helped run in the ’90s. I think we’ve both moved on too far now to work with each other again.
Alan is a man of powerful words. What are some things you had to keep in mind when you partnered up with him?
Nothing of any kind. Alan is certainly a man of powerful words, but then I’m a man of powerful images. It all worked out very well, I think.
You have illustrated for both DC and Marvel. How would you compare the two experiences?
When I worked for DC it was mainly on projects that were outside the generality of the mainstream product of US comics: i.e the superhero genre. The few times I’ve worked on Marvel US properties, they were linked to superhero products of some kind, so there was less freedom in art style and content. The work I did for Marvel’s UK office in the ’80s had a more variable personality, which was only intermittently subject to corporate rulings on the style of what it should produce for it’s readers. I’ve had most artistic freedom at DC, and some degree of it at Marvel UK.
How has technology developed since you took to the drawing board?
A great deal in illustration and reproduction techniques, and in delivery options for comics. Artists can draw on graphics tablets directly for reproduction, and the colouring of comic art is free of the complexity of old, pre-computer technology methods. Regrettably, old and expensive reproduction, printing and distribution methods still dominate the industry, when fast and inexpensive reproduction and delivery options for comics are easily available of the kinds I use in my cyberspace comics magazine, Aces Weekly.
Of all the characters that you have illustrated, who would you say is your favourite and why?
V from V For Vendetta, because he means more to me personally than any other character I’ve drawn, and I was partly responsible for his existence.
When you are depicting scenes of violence, how do you keep the balance between expressing enough and going overboard?
The whole intention is to produce a violent effect without resorting to a violent manner. That’s actually more effective. There’s something to be said for the saying ‘less is more’. Violence, if it is overdone, has the opposite effect – it becomes a spectacle for the eye rather than actually depicting something. But it also depends on the storyteller as well. If you watch Quentin Tarantino’s films, the point there is to depict violence explicitly for the story he’s telling.
What is your view on the Indian comic book scene?
I have come to India for several comic conventions and have met a number of great artists. The problem in India, which is similar to the problem in most other countries right now, is that the market is inundated with manga from Korea and Japan and Marvel and DC Comics from America. This is really unfair to the local talent, which should get more
What are some of your most memorable collaborations?
One of them is the first writer I worked with – Steve Moore, who taught Alan how to write. I also thoroughly enjoyed working with Jamie Delano, with whom I worked using the Marvel method, wherein the writer gives the illustrator the bare bones of the story and he illustrates the entire book before the writer even starts writing it. Not many writers are willing to give up that kind of control!