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When we are the AIs and don't write sexy scenes
An edition about humans transforming into dull robots and the importance of a generational identity
HELLO AND WELCOME TO A NEW EDITION OF MY NEWSLETTER!
First, the spam!
I drew and colored an issue of Tales from Nottingham, a spin-off series from the successful series Nottingham created by David Hazan and Shane Connery Volk and published by Mad Cave. This story is written by Magdalene Visaggio and I had a lot of fun working on it because I had never drawn anything from this age of History.
So here is my usual…
UPDATED RELEASE SCHEDULE
Now on sale:
FAHRENHEIT 451 graphic novel (now on sale in Spain)
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: MASTERVERSE issue #2 with Tim Seeley
PARANOIA KILLER: VIRYA and PARANOIA KILLER COMPILATION (digital)
ELIXIR graphic novel with Frank Barbiere and Ricky Mammone
July (USA): TALES FROM NOTTINGHAM #6 with Magdalene Visaggio
September (USA): PROJECT MONARCH with Mike Oeming
WHEN WE ARE THE AIs
It’s something relatively new but I am completely bored about the AI conversation. We need to talk about it because it’s going to affect artistic-cultural occupations but I must admit it seems nothing more has happened recently in the world. But well, I give you my two cents because we are seeing a lot of events linked to it (like the recent Writers Guild of America strike) and this is only the beginning, I fear.
I talked a little about AI focused on art in a previous newsletter. I mentioned that I have seen some movies recently and I had the strong conviction that it had been written by a machine. Well, I must say that this movie was the Russo brothers’ The Gray Man, and I mention it because I recently saw the first 3 episodes of their over-promoted TV show Citadel with the same strong conviction. I hate to talk shit about other creators but if you can spend $300 million in a 35-minute 6-episode season you can handle some criticism from a nobody like me.
I absolutely love the spy and hitmen genre and I see and read all I can about it, even the more B-grade crap, it’s almost a sexual paraphilia. But I must say I hadn’t seen something so soulless like these two mentioned examples. I love playing with the archetypes of this genre, and my Polar books are a good example. There is not any originality in them, the interest is about how you tell the story, how you play with these overused clichés. And you can like or dislike the product (yeah, it’s art but it's also a product you sell) but there is an intention, a part of you is there. And you must be cautious and don’t let your archetypes convert into stereotypes. Because I can’t see any minimal personal intention of Citadel or The Gray Man, they look like Frankenstein monsters made of pieces of previous movies or books or comic-books… Every dialogue, every pun, every plot twist, every action piece… you have seen them dozens of times in previous works. Just like an AI program works (because I think they are not actually intelligent, they are quick composers of collages). And I want to add that almost all of the most generic shows and movies I have seen lately have in common the most puritan and lacking of sexual appetites characters ever seen since the implantation of the Hays Code.
I joke about it, but I really don’t think these products were written by machines, and this is the sad thing. Because when humans apparently write like machines, then why should we complain about being replaced by machines? That would be the natural order because machines can do these insipid, dull products ten thousand times quicker than humans. And without receiving credit and money, don’t forget it.
So I insist that we need to fight legally against the “AI trick” because they are using our work to build this fantasy of learning. But at the same time we need to make an extra effort to show and explain what makes our human creativity so unique. And I think the viewer-reader should appreciate this and be more responsible and diligent about what they consume. And maybe I should stop watching crap only because it is about a secret organization of assassins.
NOTE: In this newsletter I often used the term “B-grade movies” but actually there is not a B-grade anymore. We have $100M (or more) blockbusters and low-budget/indie films, but the middle budgets seem doomed. Streaming was their last refuge for some time but quickly the platforms like Netflix or Prime abandoned this model for (again) big budget, great stars and stupid-generic stories. But I love these low-budget action films. A lot of them are crap, but you can’t demand the same standards to a $300M production than a $5M. And you can see an intention of doing great things with a ridiculous amount of money and a genuine love for cinema. You can learn a lot about production watching how they solve these budget problems, even when they fail. Anyway, you can find very competent directors who stand out, like Jesse V. Johnson, an artisan who makes highly enjoyable and well-crafted action products.
ABOUT REFERENCES AND GENERATIONS
I usually don't write about music in this newsletter, but I found an interesting story we could extrapolate to different arts like movies or comics. I have loved Rock and Heavy Metal since I was a teenager, and when you are young you love your favourite musical genre with passion. All is shit except the things you like, it helps it to build your own identity. When you get older (if you grew up keeping your curiosity for things) your taste expands in space and time. So I was a total metalhead of the 90s power-metal during the 90s because I was seventeen but now I can be interested in the roots of the music I love, and can listen to Jimmy Hendrix or Led Zeppelin. Or I got interested in synthwave thanks to the Drive movie and John Carpenter’s soundtracks. Or enjoyed Daft Punk thanks to the Tron: Legacy movie. Try to explain to the young Victor that someday he would listen to electronic music. But it’s a good thing to expand your taste and learn.
Like in comics, I fell in love with Frank Miller but thanks to that love I investigated his references, discovered Will Eisner, Jim Steranko or Johnny Craig.
Recently I listened (and surely will purchase a physical copy) to a very funny disc, Angus McSix and the Sword of Power. It's a really cheesy Heavy Metal disc with elements of techno and superheroes movie scores, with dumb fantasy lyrics but with a fresh (and necessary) sense of self-awareness. Sometimes it seems extracted from a crazy Eurovision contest. I’m sure you have watched his videoclip Master of the Universe because it became viral in the same instant that was released:
The point is there is a new trend in some of the new young Metal bands, who play in a very light and carefree way, and their references are cartoons, anime shows, or even the Power Rangers… And they were criticized by some people from the “Old Guard”, who consider they don’t take a subject so serious like Heavy Metal seriously. But now I’m forty-five, and I remember when the 90s bands began to make songs about The Silmarillion, or Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, or Dune and Blade Runner and Stephen King’s books… And some people of the “Old-Old Guard” criticized them because these youngsters didn’t take Heavy Metal seriously and didn’t write about motorcycles, sex with leather chicks, being free and pacts with Satan.
(Metal subjects from 1986 to 2022)
I think every generation takes the things they love very seriously, but they need to do things their way. And they need to annoy the older generations, because they are young and this is part of their identity! And in the comics business it’s the same. My generation was criticized for adding the manga and anime resources to our style, and mixing it with our own cultural heritage. I remember when I was taking my first professional steps, a very respected Spanish critic explained (he was actually gossiping, but I found out about this conversation years later) that I would never become a real pro because my style was too vague: not enough European, not enough realistic, not enough Manga… Well, I needed to do things my own way and I didn’t want these old farts to tell me how to do my comics.
So let the people do what they want the way they want. You always will have your old discs, your old books and your old movies. They are there for the rest of your life. You can join and enjoy these brats’ new creations or not. We have this freedom, let’s enjoy it. We don’t need another fortyish crying for the She-ra new show, for God’s sake.
(Let’s admit it. At some point in our lives we have acted like this guy)
And that’s all for today!
In a couple of weeks, you will receive your monthly dosis of Ginger revenges in your inbox! The story is coming to an end very soon!
Copyright © 2023 Victor Santos. All rights reserved.
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