London’s Cartoon Museum in the UK is reopening its doors next week – and two exhibitions have been announced. The first will be a special look at the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta, the movie, and its continued cultural influence. The second will be an In-Focus exhibition on British-Indian web cartoonist Natasha Natarajan.

London Cartoon Museum

In today’s Cartoon Museum May newsletter, they announced the exciting news:

“The Cartoon Museum is finally reopening! After four months of closure, we will reopen to the public on Tuesday 18 May, when restrictions are planned to lift again.”

From March 8, the UK began a phased reopening process. The latest phase that comes into effect on May 17 will allow indoor entertainment – which includes museums – to reopen to the public.

The museum was last forced to shutter to the public in mid-December 2020, as the COVID alert level for London and the South East of England was raised and stricter local restrictions were implemented. A few weeks later the picture worsened with the extremely virulent UK variant (also known as the Kent variant) of COVID-19 took hold and the entire country re-entered lockdown. The museum has thus remained closed well into 2021.

This past year has been a rough time for the museum. During the UK’s first lockdown, in 2020, the museum engaged in an emergency fundraising campaign to keep the lights on. The most recent wave of COVID also led to the tragic loss in January of the museum’s own Alison Brown, a beloved figure in the British comics community.

With work restrictions easing and a cultural recovery fund grant from Arts Council England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, London’s Cartoon Museum has been preparing for the reopening. It has particularly been teasing the new exhibitions on their social media (which has remained busy throughout the lockdown).

As the newsletter states,

“We have been working hard behind the scenes during closure, and are excited to announce that we will reopen our doors with two fantastic new exhibitions. We are very excited to announce our amazing new exhibition V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask, telling the story of the iconic comic book through original comic art by David Lloyd and props and designs from the 2005 film. We will also launch a fantastic new In-Focus exhibition Natasha Natarajan’s FML Comics, exhibiting the unique and wonderful mind of British-Indian web cartoonist Natasha Natarajan as she draws her way through life’s challenges! We will be able to share news on the other exhibition soon (but be excited because it is BIG news!)”

The V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask exhibition will be a particularly big draw for the museum. It will run from May 18 to October 31.

“We are excited to explore the cultural impact of one of the most ground-breaking series of comics ever to be published – V for Vendetta – in our new exhibition.

V for Vendetta: Behind the Mask will chart the rise from graphic novel, to hit film and now global phenomenon as a symbol of protests.

Securing rare loans from the art department of Warner Bros., the exhibition will present a history of this modern classic with original artwork and covers, as well as costumes – including an original V mask – and designs that have never been seen in the UK before, alongside real-life protest stories.”

V for Vendetta was originally serialised between 1982 and 1985 in the short-lived British anthology title Warrior before finding a new home, republished and completed by DC Comics in a 1988-89 ten issue series. It was adapted into a 2005 film written by The Wachowskis and directed by James McTeigue, and the famous Guy Fawkes mask worn by the protagonist has been frequently associated with protest movements ever since.

The museum will also have a special online conversation with V co-creator and artist David Lloyd on May 21, at 6.30pm (UTC +1).

The In-Focus spotlight on the work of British-Indian cartoonist Natasha Natarajan will run from May to July 2021, but details aren’t finalised yet. There are online events scheduled for June 5 with Jenny Robins, and June 19 with Rob Bidder.