Almost every app and website you sign up for these days comes with huge terms and conditions — sometimes tens of thousands of words long — that no one ever bothers to read before agreeing to.
But one comic artist has decided to make iTunes’ 20,000-plus-word T&Cs easier to digest — by transforming them into a graphic novel.
Robert Sikoryak, who has worked for the New Yorker and Nickelodeon as well as writing comic literary parodies, is the author of “Terms and Conditions: A Graphic Novel,” published this month by Drawn & Quarterly.
It stars Apple’s late cofounder Steve Jobs, with the art style radically changing each page — reflecting the history of comics throughout the world.
“The motivation for this project was to play with the long form of the graphic novel, which has become so ubiquitous in the United States. And it struck me that the iTunes Terms and Conditions would make a very unlikely comic,” Sikoryak told Business Insider via email.
“It’s (in)famous for being very long, which is surely why it popped in my head. I loved the idea of using a well known text — in its entirety — that everyone has heard about, but very few people have ever actually read. That’s something that the Terms share with many classic works of literature.”
Keep reading to see inside the satirical graphic novel…
The style of each page is very different. One moment it's 'Garfield,' the next it's 'My Little Pony.' However, 'there is one visual element that runs through the whole book. The face of Apple, Steve Jobs, was famous for his iconic outfit. So, in my comic, I've dressed the main character of each page in the classic Steve Jobs outfit: black turtleneck, jeans, glasses, and beard,' Sikoryak said. 'It's as good of a costume as Charlie Brown's, or Batman's. His uniform provides the link from page to page.'
'I wanted to create a book that could suggest all of the kinds of comics that exist in the world. The visual sources come from many different strains of comics: there are some artists from North America, Europe, and Japan; independent and mainstream cartoonists; print and web cartoonists; animated characters that have been published in comic books; contemporary graphic novels and early 20th century newspaper comics. I wanted the project to feel like the internet -- or the iTunes store -- where it seems that everything is available and everything is possible.'
The artist says it is a 'satiric response to the complexity of modern Terms and Conditions, and in a way, a satiric response to the whole idea of adapting any source material into another medium (like books into movies, for instance). I often love adaptations, but by necessity they must reinvent their source material (or likely be very boring)!'
The result is a surreal and delightful juxtaposition between dense legalese and beautiful, nostalgic comic panels that pays tribute to some of the best of the artform.
He's currently working on a project about Trump, called 'The Unquotable Trump,' which puts controversial quotes from the US President into the front pages of comics.
While writing, Robert Sikoryak ran into a complication: Apple kept expanding the length of its terms and conditions, forcing him to adapt. 'From when I began, in November 2014, until I finished colouring and correcting the final book version, in August 2016, the Terms were expanded twice. The text went from 15,000 words to 20,000. And I expanded the book to accommodate the changes.'
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