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Comic Book Creators React To AI Artificial Intelligence Art Explosion

This weekend, the Lensa app created by Prisma AI using went viral, a service that encourages you to upload images of your face and then concocts artificial intelligence AI portraits of you with Stable Diffusion in all manner of artistic styles, looks, and themes. It's been around for a while, but it has suddenly become very popular to upload such images as avatars online – which can then be attacked by those who disapprove of such services.

Aside from AI art criticism in general, taking away from real-life artists and also appropriating people's art and art styles without credit or compensation, there is criticism that the app reverts to sexualisation, and Prisma stated that they both own the work but also get the rights to use the uploaded photos in whatever way they wish. Here's some reaction posted by actual living comic book folk to social media recently.

Reilly Brown: Isn't it illegal for a computer program to just copy and paste code from another computer program? If in the case of AI generated images, visual art is essentially just a different form of programming code, wouldn't using it still be infringement?

Jimmie Robinson: I'm all for new tools in art creation. Even this new realm of text prompt apps. I'm all for people who want to explore and generate content, no matter what their skill level is in art. I'm all for it. I get it. I even want it.
The backlash, even if it's logical, correct and sincere is a waste of time. The cat is out the bag, the genie out the bottle, the milk already spilled.
Not saying people don't have the right to cast their opinion, because I am all for that, too. In fact, I encourage it. New art might emerge from those who rally against this new form. As the lyrics go, "Your anger is a gift."
But some of the vitriol I'm reading is asking for the elimination of the tools and apps, as if that will solve the problem they have with it. I won't quote, or name people, because that's not what this post is about.
This is about acceptance.
Art tools have morphed since paintings on cave walls. Nothing is done "as it used to be". In this digital era we will see art acceptance morph again. I'm honored to see it happening, just like the early days of photoshop, illustrator, direct-to-plate printing, and online comics. I'm an old fart and I find it fascinating to watch the evolution in real time.
In the 1990s, I recall seeing Scott McCloud stand before a huge room of industry professionals at a Pro/Con event in Oakland, Ca., telling them about the birth and potential of online comics. He was set upon with pitchforks and torches. And yet, here we are… giving out Eisner Awards to digital comics.
I know it's hard (and for some even alarming) to see change so quickly and broadcast so steadily to millions. But there it is. And it's early days. Kinks, quirks, issues and prompts still need to be ironed out.
But trust me, the day is coming when Ai art will be a standard, not just a gimmick. When sampling data from existing work will be a given with a shrug of the shoulders, no more than using a credit card online or ticking that box about online data and cookies.
So feed the internet with more Batman art for Ai prompts?
Or… find your art, your style, your vision.
Be unique. Be creative in ways outside the box.
The work will stand out, even if it's sampled.
Art is not mutually exclusive.
We can all play in the same sandbox.
Yes, even if that kid across the way is copying your answers on the test.
We still do the test.

Comic Book Creators React To AI Artificial Intelligence Art Explosion
Plus Size Superheroes and Villians as requested by Matty Blades

Mike Manley: I have been seeing AI comics now. At first they totally sucked but in the past month I've seen them getting better. And I'm wondering since it's only a matter of months I imagine till it's smart enough to ape any style if fans will care?
If you can have more George Perez comics or John Byrne comics in their style do you care if in the end it might take work from human artists? Choose any artist with a recognizable style.
As far as I can see what you need is the script and a layout person to layout the page and choose the shots. Then you are not interpreting the script but choosing the best example AI gives you for the panel. And a production person for lettering and prepress. Or just do it as a web comic.
It will be able in short order to replicate anyone's style. It already is doing it in illustration. The concept people are good and fucked. If you are not top tier like Moebius or Mead. And again will the consumer care?
I see it as three tiers of consumer. Casual fan. In and out in a few years or watches the average movie. Not a collector.
The next level who is a fan of specific stories or genres. Casual collecting.
Then the Uber fan or fanatic. Collectors. They collect runs, follow specific artists. They might be able in a subset group to know about anatomy or storytelling. Inkers over certain artists etc. buy art.
Will the fan carry a cart of books to have signed at the table of the prompters? AI won't be signing.
So the question becomes will supporters care about getting sketches? " come back in an hour, give me you prompts".
Are they just fans of the material or of the creators? We have never been faced with that question.
I feel at least half if not more of people who consume this won't. Maybe 30% will.

Jonathan Matthewson: A.I. Is to art what Autotune is to music.

Salgood Sam: We've been here before even, remember when synths, or remix culture first took off and old school musicians took issue each time with the users of the new tools calling themselves artists or musicians? How well did that age?
Do you still take umbrage at calling people who do remixes and beat tracks from sample artists? How about writers? Instillation artists?
There's a lot of issues around AI that I agree with but I think visual artists are somehow assuming people who've learned how to work the AI via prompt texts – which having tried I can tell you isn't as simple as you might imagine – are implying they drew the thing by calling themselves an artist.
There are a LOT of kinds of artists who never draw, or even directly make the raw materials they use but rather assemble and build things. All legitimately artists as well.
AI isn't likely going anywhere, as a working commercial artist in animation for my day job I expect at some point when the tools and it's output are more predictable and controllable, studios will expect designers like me to learn to incorporate it into our workflow.
It's not contrary to some of the toxic claims, going to totally replace humans, just like self checkout lines still need human attendants to deal with shit AI images have lots of issues and need someone who is capable of doing the work when it glitches or breaks down to be on hand.
To be truly independent of humans it would need a working mind of its own and that's simply not going to happen. Takes too much processing power. Like orders of magnitude more than say all the CPU and GPU currently being used by the crypto crowd, just to think and that's one unit. We'll build those eventually but that's NOT going to be used to make art of any kind outside of an experiment any time soon, far too expensive for the margins in the arts.
But the relatively dumb tools are coming, and the people who use them will need a specific skill set to use them well, they already are part of the work flow for all the amazing VFX and digital animation you see.
ALL the hair and water and complex natural things in animation you take for granted these days and bitch about when something like She Hulk is just slightly less convincing? That's all dealt with by dumb algorithmic AI much like the tools being used to make the fantasy art that's taking off now from things like Stable Diffusion.
it's here already.
The people who use those, those that start working fantasy and editorial jobs making images with them? Those people, some of them are going to be seen as and call themselves artists, and I think it's a legit term like it or not.
The issues it represents for other kinds of artists are serious, but mainly they are ones of IP and labor law, not petty shit like who gets to be called an artist.
And factcheck, no it's not plagiarizing work in the learning database, it's using it much the same way my students did when I told them to study past artists and those they admire, as many as you can, to learn how to make good art. The only time you get into plagiarizing territory, both with students and AI, is when they study too few and don't have enough verity in their influence. Think those bots that have been trained to imitate ONE artist specifically, and even branded with their name.
The target of any aggression should not be other workers, but the corporations and governments.
If you're attacking peers using tools, you're being fearful monkeys throwing shit at exactly the wrong people. If it's some poser tech bro being insulting don't go after them for calling themselves an artist, call them out on being a douchebag period.
The companies that try to use this as an excuse to squeeze more content out of people for less money and the governments that don't address automation by installing a proper social safety net and support like UBI, or worse laugh at the idea they should? THEY are the problem. Not the technology and how it's going to change the arts, the commercial arts mainly

Matt Bors: An AI can't beat me. It can decimate weird twitter, punditry, portraiture, concept art. I will outflank it. I'll be drawing bizarre shit, getting outlandish with narrative structures. Stuff it can't piece together in a million years. A human is deranged and this is our magic.

Shane Chebsey: Can I ask a favour please.
Please do not include me in posts of Prompt Generated Imagery or "AI art" as it gets called.
I know it's not intentionally an attempt to annoy me, but I just don't want to see it anymore.
It's depressing and borderline offensive to me as an actual artist.
For those not aware, the use of "AI art" is plagerism of original art that it sources, and we don't need anymore of this in the artworld IMHO
I appreciate not everyone shares my view on this and I respect that.
Hell as I learn more I may even change my own view.
But until further notice I don't want to see that stuff.
I also understand it's hard to filter me out of your posts.
If you feel it's easier to just unfriend me that's cool. I won't be offended.
I know you're still my friend in the real world
Also I won't police my feed or anything giving shit to anyone who missed this post and I won't repeat this post.
I'm just hoping to get a reduction of it in my feed as it's getting me down.

Comic Book Creators React To AI Artificial Intelligence Art Explosion
Bruno Samper / Midjourney

Bruno Samper: On the set of 1984 secret collaboration movie between Jim Henson Studios and HR Giger. (All these images were produced with an AI )

Clydene Nee: Fairly alarming. Here is more artwork generated by Artificial intelligence. I can see why concept and storyboard artist would be extremely concerned.
It was a little disconcerting to see this artwork and to think of HR Giger being replaced by a computer.

Warwick Fraser-Coombe: From now on AI gets a block. Sick of seeing it.

Chip Zdarsky: AI makes it possible for my mother to turn her cat into a handsome renaissance gentleman and then spam me all day with the message "lol I guess I'm an artist too" and you're AGAINST that?

Erik Larsen: Here's the thing about AI "art"– people are angry at the very idea and understandably so– it has to potential to adversely effect the livelihood of a lot of creative people.
Can't afford to hire Alex Ross? Well, how about a faux-Alex Ross that will do whatever you tell it to do? And if faux-Alex Ross is out there making comics– what becomes of the real Alex Ross? Does this harm his career? Does he become watered down by "imitators?" Is the real Alex replaced by a fake one every time he turns down a job?
I can see a lawsuit down the road and it's going to get ugly.
And while that aspect is frightening– I have to admit– if there were monthly comics which looked like Jack Kirby drew them I'd be all over those.
And then there's this– aspiring writers have had a problem finding an artist willing to illustrate their amateurish efforts since the dawn of the medium– AI will allow more people into the tent and let those writers who could never find an artist to still make comics. It has the potential to expand the talent pool by letting those unable to make comics be able to make comics.
And is this all that different from the advent of computer lettering, which put dozens of hand letterers out of work? Why was that okay but this a crime against humanity?
I suspect the vast majority of audience doesn't care as long as the end result is good. Few people REALLY take a moral stance when push comes to shove. Thousands of people who made practical special effects in movies lost their livelihoods with the advent of CGI effects. But we all didn't stop going to the movies in protest.
The crack is going to be when artist-you-know uses AI to draw backgrounds for a project or assist them in some way. It's inevitable. It's going to happen if it hasn't already and then what? Is a comic book with AI backgrounds but hand drawn lead characters going to be the tipping point? Where do we draw the line?
People are VERY angry about it. And I don't want to appear as though I'm taking sides with AI–but the harsh reality is that the bulk of the audience won't notice or care. Comic book creation is all magic to them anyway.

Mark Brooks: I can sit here and bitch about AI "art" while knowing there's really nothing I can do about it or I can see it for what it is and work harder to produce better art that a computer can't replicate. I may die trying but I choose option number two.

David Hine: The machine intelligence doesn't know what a human being looks like yet. It doesn't even know how many digits are on a human hand. It certainly doesn't know who Richard Corben or Salvador Dali were. It doesn't understand the concepts of beauty or the grotesque. That's no reason to dismiss the images it creates as rubbish. It does work incredibly well at producing strange abstract works that to me appear breathtakingly beautiful. These images began with prompting Corben and Dali, to which I added more layers by prompting for gardens, jewels and squid (squid always adds an interesting element – they don't really have a fixed form anyway) to get a series of amazing landscapes, of which I have included one example here. I'm working at the lowest resolution. The images look good on a phone but will be blurred on a larger screen. I do that for speed. I just want to see what these machines can do, not make reproducible artwork. The third image here is the last created. After adding numerous prompts I removed most of them to shift results from increasing complexity back to a simpler image (though I did keep the squid).

Kody Chamberlain: As a lifelong art fan, I now find myself skimming past most of the art I see online, assuming it's an AI dump. I'm super bummed about this gut reaction, and I'm doing my best to fight it, but it's there.

Adi Granov: A while ago it was NFT, now it's AI art. Why are artists such depressing doommongers?
Photo bashing, mood board collages, etc. have been around forever and used quite frequently on many jobs I've done. Why haven't they replaced designers and artists? Many animals and machines can run faster and jump higher, and be way more precise than people, buy we still watch athletes compete. Why do we prise mechanical watches and pay 100x more than for a far superior quartz?
We're asking the wrong questions. Artists and illustrators could've been replaced decades ago as the technology was there. We are humans and are wired to be impressed by human achievements as they fit within our own frame of reference and emotion. Emotion is the only key factor. Were it not so the only music around today would be made by computers, but somehow we still enjoy good playing and singing.

Andrew Wheeler: A.I. art isn't magic. All the elements are taken from real artists who are not compensated. A.I. art is theft.

Don Walker: I see a lot of people trying to tell artists we're not allowed to be angry that AI theft, I mean 'art' is threatening our livelihoods. Sure, it doesn't affect you (and you're probably using it in the dark like a coward). Sit down junior, you're embarrassing yourself.

Joe Wos: At first I hated the whole AI art thing, then after some attempts I realized it just cannot do what I do as far as mazes so I thought, well it's still icky but doesn't affect me. Now I've been able to verify many of my pieces appearing in the AI training database. So now I don't know how to feel about it!
I don't feel threatened by it. but it still feels icky.
Like they asked john Henry to train the steam drill before they replaced him.

Kelly McKernan: It's heckin discouraging to see AI generated images called "art" sold for profit while I have to scream into the void to sell a single painting I spent 35 hours on with my actual hands.
No, you are not an artist if you're selecting key words and relying on a program that's trained on actual artwork to create a "new" image. Even if you've got minimal PS skills (who doesn't?) and claim it's a paint over and then sell prints. NO. You're profiting off real artists.
No one asked for my consent to train their AI programs on my artwork. No one has offered royalties for every time my name is used for style input. While I firmly believe that AI art generators have a use in concepting and exploring ideas, it's unethical to profit off those images. It's a tool, not a medium, and using it to create "new" images does not an artist make.
Maybe this holiday season, give extra love to creators making art with their hands and fill your space with human made creations? Just some thoughts

Tyler Crook: Interesting that Adobe would support and profit from the unlicensed use of artists work to produce AI images but be opposed to the unlicensed use of Adobe software.

Mitch Gerads: All the Ai art profile images look like Lisa Frank got control of your Instagram filters.

Gordon Smuder: I see lots of folks talking about all the new AI art and trotting out the old chestnut, "Artists have nothing to fear…its just another tool."
When I was building props for a living, our shop did pretty well. We were making flawless props for still photography ads. There wasn't digital retouching back then, so it had to be perfect IN CAMERA. And we were skilled at it and paid well for those skills.
Then digital retouching came on strong. And it seemed like we were actually getting a little help here and there…our work didn't need to be *quite* so flawless anymore. We were kinda happy with this "new tool". It was making our work easier. But what we could charge for our work was slightly diminished.
Eventually, our work got MUCH easier. In fact, our custom props started to be almost secondary. The images of them became the digital fodder for the retouching guys to manipulate in post. Our work was just elements, now. And producers at agencies wanted their budgets to reflect that. They weren't willing to pay out for high quality work anymore. Because they could "fix it in post". We were being devalued by "the tool".
After that, the ad agencies stopped having us build props altogether. They created their ad campaigns around digitally manipulated stock photos. Props became superfluous and completely digitally rendered images became the vogue. They didn't need to pay us for anything anymore. It was all being built out of zeroes and ones. We were replaced.
And now, those digital artists that replaced us practical prop builders and photographers? Even they are being replaced. Not entirely at this moment, but eventually. That's what experience tells me I see just around the corner.
Producers at agencies will do whatever they can to cut the budget. Thats their purpose. The cheaper they can get whats needed, the more money is retained in-house. If this "new tool" gets to the point of refinement that they can rely on the algorithm to generate usable art, dont think for a second they won't cut out human artists altogether. They'll be replaced with a program that will spit out as many iterations of a project as they can feed in parameters for. On whatever schedule the agency wants to impose. An electronic artist that doesn't complain about deadlines or low pay or rights to their artwork or ridiculous client changes.
Go tsk tsk and shake your head all you like. Call me alarmist. But I've been to this dance before. Sure, it's only a tool. A tool that replaces talented humans.

Alex Dingley: i finally have a good excuse to practise drawing hands: can't have people think i use ai

Lilah Sturges: The current crop of ai takes advantage of being at a unique point in history in which a bunch of human-made shit is sitting there free for the taking to build models with. It seems like a free lunch but there ain't no such thing because humans will soon stop preparing the food… I'm not saying ai is bad or useless or necessarily ruinous. What I am saying is that tech that doesn't factor in the human impact of its existence is bound to lead somewhere bad and boneheaded because computers don't understand or care about the consequences of their actions.

José Villarrubia: Like many, many others, I have been playing around privately with new AI software like MidJourney and Stable Diffusion… It's addictive and scary at the same time. But I'm dismayed by fellow pros trying to "pass" their obviously computer generated images, wholly or in part, as "hand painted" or "done in Photoshop". You can totally tell when AI is being used. I feel that this is not helping with what's already a potentially alarming situation for artists…

Elizabeth Sandifer: I find myself thinking—somewhat cruelly, I'll admit—that the artists who are threatened by AI art are largely ones who built an extremely iteration-based career drawing specific categories of objects in a style that would sell, as opposed to ones driven by having something to say

Abraham Josephine Riesman: If you need free art for your newsletter or whatever, f-cking draw something! I don't care if you're not "an artist"! Everyone can draw crude figures and they're more interesting to look at than this stolen hypersheen AI bullshit. There's likely going to be a WGA strike soon and I f-cking guarantee you there will be scripts written by AI and touched up by scabs

Roger Langridge: I can't get my head around this with AI art: • It composes its "art" by trawling for existing art to plagiarise • More and more art on the web is AI art • It ends up plagiarising *itself* more often than not How does it not just become exponentially worse by doing that?

Taylor Esposito: If you come to me with AI art and ask me to letter it, I'm charging you 10 times my rate. Clearly you have money to spend if you used AI art to not pay an artist.

Zan Christensen: All these AI portrait images going by has given me an idea.
Any of my talented art friends wanna do a quick portrait of me? Don't spend more than a few minutes; think of it like a convention sketch. Digital, pencil, ink, watercolor, pick your poison.
What's your commission rate? Check with me first! (I know too many talented folks who deserve big $$$ I may not have for this whim. )
I'll buy ten different ones and post them and write about how awesome you are in the description.

Matt Taylor: Me and @izzyburtonart spent yesterday evening making 100% AI FREE ™ self portraits. I have not painted a self portrait since high school, but it turned out okay I think? (Obviously Izzy is a way better painter than me too)

Clark Bint: How long will it be until we get a film franchise, provably a comic adaptation, based off a hugely successful AI art prompt? Will studios use AI art to test the market on what creates the most buzz and make films based on that? I don't like this potential future. Using AI art prompts to get work made is like being ruled by anxiety – actively skipping the hard parts to get to the point. The emotional ups and mostly downs of creating art is part of the process, and makes you grow as a person as you grow as an artist. Journey not destination

Matthew Southworth: AI art: we're fucked, artists, because a huge segment of the population either can't tell or, even worse, PREFERS auto-tuned vocals.
Jason Copland: I'm of the mind that no amount of fighting will stop the use of AI apps. I don't condone it but most people are always going to think of artists and their work as disposable and feel entitled to it in any form/format they want. It's fucking disgusting.

Matthew Southworth: I think so too; especially in an era where attention is increasingly fragmented, many people don't care about the differences

Kirk Lund: I hope and think humans will remain the primary or even exclusive creators of comics. Try to imagine any publisher paying 100 times more $ for pages produced by AI within the next 10-20 years. Someone would also need to invest huge $$$ in developing specialized comic-creating AI. Not likely, especially for a niche industry. Maybe some fancy texturing, coloring, backgrounds or animation options. Some publisher might use AI to help animate scenes from a comic, which I suppose would work best on comics using more dense, decompressed story-telling. I know you guys were discussing "art" in general and I tend to focus in on what I like… comics.

Matthew Southworth: Unfortunately, I think it'll hit comics as fast—or faster—than other areas. The money is sooo scarce that artists and publishers are bound to utilize any shortcuts possible. Years ago a certain DAREDEVIL artist was using photo backgrounds run thru a sketch filter & nobody minded. As an art experiment, it was interesting & appropriate for the book. This guy can draw like a sonofabitch, he's very good, but he found ways to get it done super-fast. Most of us have dabbled with 3D backgrounds, etc.; I'm not throwing stones from my Sketchup-designed glass house. But I hope that this may increase a hunger for handmade art in response. Just because we can get cheap furniture from Wal-Mart doesn't mean that's what we WANT in our houses, and I suppose we may find larger groups getting fed up with outlet mall "art", too.

Kirk Lund: I really hope I never see the majority of comics made by cylons, and I'd like to think I would be able to tell the difference at 10 paces. But, there is a percentage of comics buyers who never read anything they "collect", and that could feed the problem.

Jason Copland: Comics, and art in general, will be fine. People will want to support artist drawn books.

Matthew Southworth: We'll see. Music was devalued by making it into digital "product" in the minds of many ppl, and now the economic bottom has fallen out of the recorded music business for all but the verrrry very few; I can imagine a similar trajectory for comics (1/2)
—not to mention prose, when an app that takes prompts ("Teenage girl" "fighting Confederacy" "time travel" "laser sword") assembles things into fake novels. It's coming. BUT I think there will always be some audience for hand,Ande art. God, I hope so.

Jason Copland: It will be more difficult to make a living but there will always be artist drawn comics that people will seek out and buy.

 JH Williams III: I honestly believe AI art will rise and then fall, eventually wither and die.

Matthew Southworth: I suspect it will survive in some form—but I do think it's sort a fad, too, like when everyone went crazy using that Prisma art filter on photos. Drum machines didn't go away, but people DID a start to understand the diff btw a DM & a real drummer, so that's a good sign.

Kirk Lund: Maybe next gen Siri and Alexa will need an allowance to feed their growing appetite for AI art and comics

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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