April 15, 2024

Animators say: “AI won’t give you an Oscar”

  • By Susan Hornik
  • business reporter

Image source, David Coronason


David Crownson worries that AI will make it easier for people to copy his comics, which focus on black characters.

Comics writer David Crownson fears that artificial intelligence (AI) will “put a lot of people out of work” in his industry.

“As big-name studios and publishers look for ways to save money and take shortcuts, they will undoubtedly use AI technology,” he says.

As the growth of AI gained prominence last year, comics and animation writers and illustrators remain particularly concerned about its potential impact on them.

After all, AI can produce digital images in seconds, images that wouldn’t be out of place in a graphic novel. At least for those of us who don’t have trained eyes. And AI can write stories too.


This is a still from the animated film Unicorn Wars, which didn’t involve the use of AI, but could you guess?

With a small but rapidly growing number of AI-created comics and animated TV shows already released commercially, the technology could transform the industry.

New Jersey-based Crownson is also the head of publisher Kingwood Comics, which focuses both on promoting black writers and publishing comics featuring black characters.

“Now I have to compete with an AI user who can produce content faster,” he says. “Also, a white person could tell his AI to create an action-adventure comic with black characters.”

He adds that he fears this could lead to many unemployed comics writers who come from ethnic minorities. “AI is dangerous for the employment of black artists,” she says.

AI will never be able to replicate the quality of humans when it comes to storytelling, argues Shawnee Gibbs. Working with their twin Shawnelle, the Los Angeles-based sisters have written graphic novels for Marvel Comics and Harper Collins, and animations for Cartoon Network and Dreamworks Animation.

Image source, Shawnee Gibbs


Shawnee Gibbs writes graphic novels and animations with her sister

“It’s important for us to champion human storytellers now, so that in the future there’s an industry left for future creators,” says Shawnee. “This is an incredibly unique medium. [comics and animation] which gets its DNA from the collaboration of writers and artists. “I can’t imagine that kind of synergy when you generate stories from AI.”

However, her sister Shawnelle says she is “confident that AI will change the industry in ways we can’t even imagine right now.”

He wants “legislation to emerge that protects human creators as AI technology evolves.” At the moment there is nothing clear about this, but California Governor Gavin Newsom is investigating the matter.

The Gibbs sisters are members of Women In Comics Collective International, an organization that supports female comics writers and illustrators. It was founded in 2012 by American comics writer Regine Sawyer.

“We discuss the use of AI in our panel discussions and will continue to do so,” Ms. Sawyer says. “Our members are very concerned. We want to be very clear about our stance on how AI is used in the comics industry.”

His position is that AI is a great tool for research, but not as a creator of material. “When it’s used to replace creators, that’s where the problem lies,” he adds.

Dave Jesteadt is president of GKids, an American company that produces and distributes animated films. He agrees that the use of AI should be limited to an assistant role, but he has not yet seen this done successfully. “To the extent that AI can help individual creators as a tool, I hope to see positive examples in the years to come.”

Rob Edwards is a screenwriter of animated films and writer of graphic novels. His film work includes co-writing the screenplay for the 2009 Oscar-nominated film, The Princess and the Frog. He fears that AI will deprive both comics and animation of their inventiveness.

“A world of writers using AI is a world of derived, recycled and impersonal ideas,” he says. “Right now, there’s a kid out there drawing the next weird but groundbreaking comic that could inspire millions. My worry is that the AI ​​will convince that kid not to do it before anyone sees it.

“If you think the animated movies you see now are predictable, wait until computers write them.”

While established players in both the comics and animation sectors are understandably concerned about AI, there has been huge growth in AI-powered comics and animation creation applications aimed at the home user.

For animation, these include Animaker AI, Blender, Cascader, and Deepmotion. While for comic creation, apps include Comics Maker, AI Comic Factory, and Neural Canvas. They make promises like allowing users to create “awesome comics” or that “anyone can now create a studio-quality animated video in an instant.”

One person who has created comics whose images were drawn by AI is New York artist Steve Coulson and his five-part work The Bestiary Chronicles. He says using AI to create individual images “can be a fairly straightforward exercise.”

However, he says that when you want to tell a story through multiple images, “it’s a harder nut to crack,” since you have to “convince the system to produce consistent characters, settings, styles, etc., in order to tell a story”. coherent story.” However, he adds that this will “no doubt” become easier as AI-driven systems are improved.

Image source, Steve Coulson


Steve Coulson used AI to draw images, like this one, from his Summer Island graphic novel.

Despite the growing popularity of all these apps, Jonathan Kendrick, co-founder and president of global streaming service Rokit Flix, says AI is still not good enough to be a threat to professional comic creators and animators.

“AI cannot create an image like the human mind does,” he says. “It’s like having a bad writer help you: Sure he’ll give you an outline, but if you need something with emotional weight, an AI won’t give you an Oscar.

“AI will never be able to surprise us in the way we want our stories and our art to be portrayed. Because of this, AI is simply a tool to be used by humans, not to replace them. Otherwise, we sacrifice originality and the creativity that consumers know. and love.”

Additional reporting by Will Smale.

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