The hardest part of the project? Keeping up with the Terms as they were updated.
“I have read and agree to the iTunes Store Terms & Conditions.” Liar! Apple’s iTunes Terms and Conditions have a long and storied history as one of the most laborious legal documents that no one reads. Thankfully, classic cartoonist, satirist and illustrator R. Sikoryak is changing all that with his new graphic novel, Terms and Conditions. The 96-page word-for-word adaptation of the dense legal document places Apple godhead Steve Jobs into a huge variety of comic styles and has him spout off the rules and regulations. With homages to everything from The Walking Dead to Garfield to The Simpsons to Little Lulu, Terms and Conditions serves as both a digestible guide to the doc and a visual history of comics.
“The project came about because I wanted to do a long form comic—a real graphic novel,” R. Sikoryak explains to The Creators Project. “I often adapt existing texts into comics, but I usually edit them down. In this case, I thought it would be funny to use all the text of a document that everyone thinks they ought to read, but never do. When I hit upon the idea of doing each page in a different style, I was very excited by the prospect.” As for the jump from style to style, Sikoryak says he’s always worked with varying styles through his career as a parodist. “Some styles come easier to me, such as Peanuts (because I’ve drawn many parodies of it over the years, and I’d read so much of it as a kid). Others, such as Little Nemo, are ridiculously difficult. For this book, I was working with the page layouts of pre-existing comics, so rendering was a little easier. Also, I wasn’t as slavish as usual in replicating the linework, although I did revise many of the pages when it was collected in book form.”
Though the length of the original document was daunting for Sikoryak, he says the hardest aspect of the project “was keeping up with the Terms as they were updated. When I began the project in late 2014, the Terms were a total of 15,000 words. Then, in the middle of 2015, the Terms were updated to 20,000 words. I had already drawn the first 50 pages, but I went back and revised all of the text. (It hadn’t changed too drastically.) Then I had to expand the comic from an estimated 70 pages to approximately 94 pages.”
Being one of the few humans on earth who actually read the comics, were there any clauses or stipulations in the Terms that surprised Sikoryak? “There’s a sentence on page 76 that you must agree to ‘not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law,’ including the design of nuclear weapons. I have no problems with agreeing to that. There’s also a passage on page 72 about Intellectual Property and not creating derivative works based on the External Services. As a parodist, I always get a little uneasy when copyrights are discussed. But there's nothing in the text about using the text itself in transformative works, so I think I’m in the clear.”
Cover for Terms and Conditions by R. Sikoryak. Photo courtesy Drawn and Quarterly.
Read up on what you’re agreeing to on March 7th, when Terms and Conditions by R. Sikoryak hits digital and physical shelves from Drawn & Quarterly.