In Chapter 2 of "Understanding Comics", Scott McCloud explores the ways in which cartooning simplifies an icon--"any image used to represent a person, place, thing, or idea" (McCloud 27)--in order to amplify its meaning and focus our attention on it. He specifically addresses the abstraction of human faces, noting the universalizing function it serves through viewer-identification, and the ability of this function to merge our identity with our awareness by drawing our attention away from the image and onto the message being communicated. "If who I am matters less, maybe what I say will matter more" (McCloud 37). When we look at a realistic representation of a human face, we see the face of another. But when the image is more abstracted, we see ourselves. “That’s the theory, anyway (McCloud 37).
This concept can be understood by looking at the graphic novel/movie V for Vendetta. The main character V is always seen wearing his trademark Guy Fawkes mask and a straight brown-haired wig. Because the mask is a strong abstraction of a human face, the reader/viewer identifies with it and internalizes the message he is meant to convey. The mask is an icon.
V: Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof.