a Topographic Tale

Topographics is a developer of open source visual software in Richmond, Virginia.

Why the name Topographics? In the mid 80's I was reading comic books (aka graphic novels) from independent publishers like Aardvark-Vanaheim and Americomics and inspired by their DIY examples, I wanted to produce my own comics too. For this I needed a name to publish them under and I wanted something along the lines of Steranko's Supergraphics or Elfquest's WaRP Graphics.

In July 1986, GTR was playing Austin, Texas at the City Coliseum (the same one seen at the end of the Clash's "Rock the Casbah" video) on their one and only tour of the US. My friend Eric and I went to the venue early in the off chance of meeting either or both of the two Steves. Waiting outside the front door, we could clearly hear the band sound checking; Steve Hackett played "Horizons" and the middle of "Firth of Fifth", followed by Steve Howe playing "Ram" and the acoustic ending of "the Ancient" from Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and we both knocked on the door in unison at the point in the piece where Howe taps on his guitar body. At that moment, I thought "Topographics! Yeah, that's it! That's the name I was looking for!" Many years and various permutations later, that name lives on in this software company.