DC Comics is Finding Themselves in an A.I. Art Quagmire


ICV2 wrote about the resurfacing of DC’s recent scandal with AI artwork, this time caused by an artist named Francesco Mattina, who submitted what was apparently AI-based artwork for publication despite rules against it:


It was bound to happen. AI-based art generation tools are too easy, too ubiquitous, and too almost-good for some professional artists to avoid the temptation of taking a creative shortcut, especially if extensive “reference” of other artists’ work is already part of their workflow. Last week, already-controversial cover artist Francesco Mattina got called out for a Superman variant that bore some suspicious evidence of AI generation; today, DC has replaced his scheduled covers in their latest solicitation.

For those immersed in the controversies that generative AI is causing in the creative community, this is an interesting, troubling, but potentially positive development. Backlash apparently did lead to the desired outcome, and other artists have been put on notice that their peers are watching and publishers are willing to draw the line. But for everyone else, what’s the big deal? Why was Mattina, whose work was popular enough in some corners of fandom and retail, singled out for a cover that doesn’t look much different from other stuff on the racks?

What’s going on? If you haven’t been following along at home, here’s the rundown. Last week, DC solicited a variant cover for Action Comics #1069 by Mattina. Artist Adi Granov noted a tell-tale sign of AI art, a small flaw in the image (in this case, an imperfection in Superman’s “S” symbol) that a human artist would not make, especially not in such a labored, rendered piece. Granov blistered Mattina in a social media post that not only called out this example, but also noted his generally poor reputation as a swiper, “photobasher” (manipulating digital photos to create backgrounds and other pictorial images) and shady character dating back decades.

Apparently a lot of people have knives out for Mattina because the online response was nearly unanimous, and over the weekend, DC’s revised September solicitations includes replacements for all the variant covers that he was in line to deliver, including Superman #18, Brave and the Bold #17, and several others. Mattina has already reportedly been blackballed at other publishers over accusations of plagiarism.


See Also: Allegations of AI Art DC Comics Renders Them Instantly Irrelevant


Gee whiz. What are these “artists” thinking? Do they really want to destroy their careers that badly, as this Mattina unfortunately has? Sad. Though saddest of all is how scandals like these serve as distractions for how poor modern storytelling is, and nobody wants to admit that if the publishers are putting out woke propaganda, it’s a huge letdown. Come to think of it, so is what I’ve seen of this Granov’s artwork, which looks far too computerized in some cases, so what a shame Mattina’s given him the opportunity to virtue-signal.


HiveModeration.com’s AI Generated Content Detector

I’m sure even Marvel’s had at least a few AI-generated covers published themselves, so how odd if only DC takes the brunt of the criticism here. And while Rob Liefeld by contrast may have drawn his own [uninspired] artwork, it sure is strange why, for many years, few seemed to take serious issue with Marvel/DC’s repeated hirings of an artist whose style was alarmingly sloppy, proving even real artists can be as incompetent as computers can. For now, this can look pretty bad for DC’s current EIC Marie Javins. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely she’ll be asked to resign. And even then, there’s no chance an editor interested in mending the massive damage caused since the turn of the century to their continuity will be appointed.


Originally published here.

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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1