The Als of AI (Midjourney, AI Generator)

Continuing with Mike’s plagiarism theme of this morning we come to MalMidjourney.

During the New Year’s weekend, artists linked to a Google Sheet on the social media platforms X (formerly known as Twitter) and Bluesky, alleging that it showed how Midjourney developed a database of time periods, styles, genres, movements, mediums, techniques, and thousands of artists to train its AI text-to-image generator. Jon Lam, a senior storyboard artist at Riot Games, also posted several screenshots of Midjourney software developers discussing the creation of a database of artists to train its AI image generator to emulate.

Karen K. Ho for ARTnews reports on the release of a “list of artists’ names used by Midjourney as the training foundation for its AI image generator” that includes hundreds of comic artists.

Far too many to list here we’ll look at a part of the list with names starting “Al”

Al Capp

Al Gordon

Al Jaffee

Alan Davis

Albert Uderzo

Alex Hallatt

Alex Schomberg

Alex Toth

The full list in pdf can be found HERE.

ARTnews continues:

Phil Foglio encouraged other artists to search the list to see if their names were included and to seek legal representation [emphasis added] if they did not already have a lawyer.

Access to the Google file was soon restricted, but a version has been uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Below are Jacks from the list:

Notable, to me, is the absence of Jack Mendelsohn of Jackie’s Diary and much more. It would seem to me that the unique stylings of an artist like Jack would be included.

Another surprise: The rather unknown cartoonists Ad Carter and Fred Neher are included while influential comic artists like Fred Opper, Neal Adams, and Jeff MacNelly don’t make the list. I can only guess that the 16,000 artists used to train AI is only the beginning and plans are (were?) to expand it many fold.

With the recent status of Mickey Mouse/Steamboat Willie entering public domain it would seem using the early (pre-1928) work of George Herriman, Winsor McCay, George McManus would be fair game; stealing the talent of current artists like Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, the above mentioned Alex Hallatt, and others still extant should be considered criminal. Though Roy Lichtenstein got away with it.

feature image by Russ Heath

One thought on “The Als of AI (Midjourney, AI Generator)

  1. I wasn’t surprised but it is disconcerting to find yourself on a list of artists whose work has been used to train AI. This is how I feel about it in general (reposted from LinkedIn):

    AI isn’t going away and I find it useful for the tasks I used to do before with Pinterest and Google Images (mostly picture and colour reference) so I’m making the most of it as a tool. But as with stock imagery in the 90s and onward we need two things: 1. CONSENT and 2. COMPENSATION.

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