In the Spotlight: Richard McGuire & Stephen Betts

The second keynote address is a conversation between comics artist Richard McGuire and developer Stephen Betts, who will discuss the digitization of Here as well as the differences between print and digital formats.

Here was first published as a six-page comic in Art Spiegelman and François Mouly’s avant-garde comics magazine RAW in 1989, it quickly became a cult work and was recently updated into a full-blown graphic novel, published by Pantheon in 2014. It was awarded the Fauve d’Or at the Angoulême Comics Festival in 2016. Here, which Chris Ware named a “game-changing graphic novel”, captures the changes of a single space across the million-years span of deep time, reimagining human time beyond the grasp of traditional narrative patterns. This multiscalar reimagination of narrative was simultaneously published as a print book – urging its readers to constantly flip through and manipulate the codex in nonlinear ways – and as an interactive app – which makes use of the specific affordances of digital media to expand that nonlinear aspect towards a database logic of random combinations and juxtapositions. As McGuire told Leanne Shapton in an interview for The Paris Review:

“The book form works perfectly for telling this story, but I also wanted to push the nonlinear aspects of the storytelling. I imagined an interactive version that could randomize all the panels and backgrounds and reshuffle them, and with the new combinations come new connections within the story. I spoke about this possibility at a lecture I gave, and by luck there was a developer in the audience, Stephen Betts, who knew how it could be done. We collaborated on that for two years, right alongside of the making of the paper version. Stephen wrote a lot of programing for what became the e-book. It’s unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It also incorporates animated GIFs and, for me, those little looped movements feel the closest to single memories.”


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