In a New York Times piece published this week, writer Nick Bilton makes the keen observation that the cultural ascension of hacker group Anonymous has been a financial boon for Warner Bros., the media company that owns the Guy Fawkes image that protesters wear as a mask. Based on the character "V" from Alan Moore and David Lloyd's classic graphic novel V For Vendetta (as well as the film based on the book), the Guy Fawkes mask sells over 100,000 units a year, with Warner Bros. -- the parent company of comics publisher Vertigo -- earning a licensing fee for each mask sold.Having staged popular protests, acts of civil disobedience and well-documented hacks against such targets as the Church of Scientology, the Iranian government, Sony, credit card companies and many more, Anonymous is the world's most visible expression of anarchy and rebellion in the digital age. It is a curious irony that the group's activities necessarily fund the activities of the sort of establishment they might seem predisposed to dislike, Warner Bros. and its parent entity, Time Warner.


According to the New York Times, the Guy Fawkes disguise worn by Anonymous members outsells masks of Darth Vader and Batman. Additionally, some of who've wished to participate in Anonymous protests have been unable to do so due to mask shortages.

"We sell over 100,000 of these masks a year, and it's by far the best-selling mask that we sell," said Howard Beige, executive vice president of Rubie's Costume, a New York costume company that produces the mask. "In comparison, we usually only sell 5,000 or so of our other masks." The Vendetta mask, which sells for about $6 at many retailers, is made in Mexico or China, Mr. Beige said.


Asked earlier this month what he thought of the Anonymous phenomenon vis-a-vis V For Vendetta, David Lloyd told ComicsAlliance, "They seem to be resisting oppression the best way they know how. I haven't enough knowledge of them to offer view of greater value."

For his part, Alan Moore was more enthusiastic, telling the following to Entertainment Weekly in July:

"I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here [in England], and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow."

More from The New York Times at this link.