Google Chrome: interview with artist, Scott McCloud

Google week: Google comic book artist speaks

Do you have plans to continue working with Google on this or on other projects in the future?

Well, in the next several weeks I'm preparing to pitch a graphic novel so I've got my hands full for a month or two, but we've certainly left the door open to possibility. You know, this is enjoyable work for me, this sort of comics, non-fiction, explanatory stuff. I don't think we've really scratched the surface of what it can do.

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I'm hoping that other cartoonists take up that torch as well. I don't mind being tagged for work such as this, but it would be sad if this was a career category of one [laughs]. I hope many people will attempt this sort of thing in the future. There are certainly many smart cartoonists who could take on a challenge like this and do a good job at it.

Would you say, then, this explanatory, non-fiction style of comic lends itself well to you, with your existing background in such work already (comics on comics et al…)?

It was a natural fit certainly. My father was an engineer and I definitely have that kind of brain. I like engineers – engineers are some of my favourite people [laughs], so it wasn't that hard to connect to the ideas. So there's no question that I was suited to the project – I just hope that other cartoonists who are suited to that sort of thing will have the chance to give it a try.

Can you tell us more about the graphic novel you're pitching?

I'm keeping it pretty close to the chest, but I can tell you it's going to be three or four hundred pages at least. It takes place in New York City, and it's fairly operatic. Beyond that, I'm trying a little creative discipline in not talking it to death ahead of time [laughs] just to make sure I retain that energy that I have for it.

What was it like to work with Google and in and around their offices, given their casual reputation as a company?

The general impression of Google, I think, is largely correct. It does seem to still have a casual but efficient air. It didn't strike me as frivolous, but I think its reputation of being an engineering-driven company where the creative minds are the engine that runs everything – I think that that reputation is well-deserved.

You know, in many ways our bosses on the project were the team themselves. I mean, the engineers, not some lawyer [laughs] or some fellow in a suit calculating demographics. These were the people who really created the browser itself, that we felt were our first audience, and the people that we felt the greatest loyalty and responsibility towards. And that's why I'm very happy I had the opportunity to put the engineers right in the panel.

Do you think, that, while Google is popularly perceived as being cool and open to ideas and freewheelin', that it might start to grow into the kind of staid, corporate behemoth some of its close rivals have become?

Well I think there's that conventional wisdom in The Valley that integrity doesn't scale, and I suppose there's always the danger that it'll be hard to maintain that atmosphere, but certainly Google has risen to a considerable scale without losing that flavour so far, and I wish them luck. You know, obviously it could go either way, but I came away from the experience feeling more optimistic than, I think, some people in The Valley. I think Google might actually pull it off. Certainly their devotion to the work itself remains. They haven't lost sight of the importance of, just, very good design, and I think Chrome strikes me as a very well-designed piece of software, and that alone is just really gratifying to see.

Have you actually used Chrome much yourself?

[laughs] Well when I'm speaking about the design I'm talking about the internal design, not the user experience. I unfortunately – tragically – I'm on a Mac, so I'm going to have wait to use it as my daily browser, but I'm looking forward to it. My whole family is actually very frustrated that they can't use Chrome right away – especially my daughter. Everyday I come home from work and she tells me how pissed off she is that she doesn't have her Mac version yet [laughs].