By including the Apple founder in his symbolic black turtleneck
and eyeglasses on each page, the artist plays with the concept of
Jobs-as-brand. Mr. Sikoryak delves deeper into the question of what
constitutes as a brand as he compels readers to question whether
the language of the terms and conditions themselves ought to be
aligned with Apple's core design principles.
"I doubt that Steve Jobs ever read the terms and conditions!"
quipped Mr. Sikoryak during our chat, some of which is presented
below in this Q&A.
Ad Age: Do you think anybody has read the full
terms and conditions now that it's in comic book form -- or is it
R Sikoryak: I can't say if anyone's read all of
it, but a number of people have said that they were surprised how
engaged they became in it. I think the pictures kind of suck you
into a drama that doesn't exist in the text.
Some people saw it and felt like, "Oh, it should illustrate the
text more," but my point was not to do that exactly, but I think
that that kind of lets people approach the text from a different
perspective, and I think that's very useful in this case.
Ad Age: The character's facial expressions and
stories told through the slices of comic book scenarios you chose
to parody, they complement the text in subtle and humorous ways
sometimes, even though sort of by happenstance.
Mr. Sikoryak: There's a romance comic on page
56, there's a couple embracing in the rain and then the woman pulls
away as the man is saying, "Apple reserves the right at any time to
modify this agreement."
The way the images reflect the text, often that was just like
I was kind of more interested in reflecting the entire spectrum
of comics and I wanted to let the comics compete with the text. The
idea in a way is that the terms and conditions are kind of this
gateway we have to pass through to explore iTunes, or in some cases
to explore the internet, so once you get through the gateway then
this stuff kind of comes to you.
That's the general conceit of the book, it sort of represents
everything that's out there rather than what comes from me.
Ad Age: The use of Steve Jobs, was that a key
thing that you wanted from the start?
Mr. Sikoryak: I knew I needed some sort of
linking device for all the pages, and part of that is done by the
apples that replace baseballs or replace the moon or replace
superhero emblems. And also there are a lot of characters that are
holding iMacs and iPads and other devices. But what really clinched
it for me was, and this was sheer accident, but me thinking about
iTunes, my mind immediately went to Jobs, and then from there I
realized that his costume is so iconic.
Ad Age: Even just to hear you call it a
"costume" is awesome. Nobody ever calls it a costume, but it's kind
of great that you're putting his signature outfit or look into the
parlance of a comic.
Mr. Sikoryak: In this book I wanted the
characters of the strip to remain themselves even though they're
wearing this uniform. It's like Charlie Brown's zig zag shirt.
Anybody could wear that shirt and you'd be like, "Is that Charlie
Ad Age: Let's talk about the content of the
text. In doing this work, were you thinking about the subject
matter from a personal level -- as, I imagine, you're an iTunes
Mr. Sikoryak: Oh, yes, I am an iTunes user.
Ad Age: What was revealed to you that you were
struck by as you contemplated the actual text?
Mr. Sikoryak: In some ways, I was more
surprised by the quality of writing as it relates to our ideas of
Apple products because it seems like Apple products are meant to be
intuitive and clean and beautifully designed and you want to pick
them up and hold them. The text is repetitive and sprawling and
unwieldy, and I was sort of struck by that distinction -- because I
doubt that Steve Jobs ever read the terms and conditions!
Ad Age: It's really interesting that you even
conceived of the language of the terms and conditions as maybe
something that should be judged the way we judge other types of
writing. That it should be readable, coherent, flowing, it should
not be redundant. It's not good at any of that. It's legal jargon
and gobbledygook and that's why nobody wants to read it.
Mr. Sikoryak: There's this joke of the terms
being too long to read and unreadable. It's an old joke.
If it was for a company that made widgets I don't think I would
think twice about their terms being boilerplate legalese, I guess
that's the difference.
Ad Age: Has doing this project, thinking about
the topics in Terms and Conditions as a "warning," has it changed
the way you interact with devices or software or technologies?
Mr. Sikoryak: I'm pretty much doing what I
always have done, which I don't think necessarily is the right
approach. I'm going to use the phrase: I don't think it's really
made me think differently.
I've been on tour for the book this month. I was in a hotel, and
I was signing in to the internet in my hotel room, and there was
the terms button, and I just went, "Well, I'm on tour for this
book, but I'm still not going to read these!"