One of the first comic strips entirely drawn by artificial intelligence in France, initial_A. by Thierry Murat, comes out Tuesday, self-published after having been refused by the classic edition. “Images prompted and generated by the author on an artificial neural network,” reads the title page.
Midjourney, in this case, is software that generates images after a description of what the user is looking for, in terms of subject and style. Thierry Murat, 55 years old today, had already published six titles with Delcourt Editions when he discovered the tool, thanks to his sons, and proposed this new comic book to his publisher.
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He signs a contract with him in October 2022, finishes the book in May 2023, for release planned for August. But “the management canceled the publication,” he explains to AFP. “Besides, it’s not really their decision. It was the pressure from three employees who stepped up to say that it was sending the wrong signal,” laments the author.
He then turned to crowdfunding, on the Ulule platform. He raised more than 23,000 euros, allowing him to launch the album with a print run of 2000 copies, under a label he created, Log Out. initial_A. features a lonely young girl from the future, on a planet that resembles ours, dialoguing with a disembodied voice.
The nature of the project has sharply divided the world of comics, between those who welcome its audacity and those who regret that it legitimizes this software criticized for its conception of copyright. Midjourney, like other artificial intelligence tools, draws its know-how from the work of designers or illustrators, without compensation.
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Thierry Murat, if he is aware of having “created unease in the profession”, responds that he does not have the impression of having plundered anyone's work: “I have not done anything illegal. I did not endanger the publishing industry. I do not bear responsibility for the invention of this machine. I'm just a free artist, who allows himself to look at the world, by adding this tool to my creator's kit.