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Sunday, March 31, 2024 

What Jim Lee says about AI and superhero fatigue

France24 interviewed artist/publisher Jim Lee, still managing DC as he is, and he addressed issues like AI and superhero fatigue. Predictably, his answers are pretty weak:
Does the simplistic black-and-white morality of superhero stories still have a place in today's world?

The black-and-white division between good and evil was more characteristic of the early decades at DC Comics.

From the 70s and 80s on, the rise of the anti-hero and establishing origin stories for the villains, where maybe they have a valid point of view... that's helped keep the stories interesting... and there's a greater degree of sophistication in the storytelling.

The value of comics... is to remind people that we're all going to go through hardship and trauma, and it's the choices you make that will define your future, as glib as that might sound.
He lost me with the emphasis on origins for villains, if only because, what about civilian co-stars? There's quite a few who haven't received origins, if at all, or nobody cares today about expanding on whatever exists. One of the reasons Mary Jane Watson became one of the biggest victims of the woke directions at Marvel. And is Lee suggesting villains have valid views? Not if they take paths like the Joker, that's for sure. The part about trauma sounds fishy, like he's alluding to Tom King's Heroes in Crisis, which was truly awful, and made a horrible mess out of 3rd Flash Wally West. Hardship is one thing, but trauma is another, and the way they've spotlighted that has been nothing short of disastrous.
Are you worried about "superhero fatigue" as fans turn away from the deluge of content?

There's always a danger when you have too much content that people don't have enough time to consume what's going on. I definitely feel that way and I'm in the middle of it.

There might be fatigue for stories that don't feel as special and unique... This year will be very interesting given the more divergent takes on superheroes in "Deadpool" and "Joker" (ed: both have sequels coming out).
Okay, that's another clue he's sticking with a pathetic position. If villains are considered a big deal, even more so than heroes, something's terribly wrong. As I'd noted before, when Hollywood runs the gauntlet of glamorizing lethal villains, it doesn't do any favours for an already badly damaged morale.
Is AI a threat to the comics industry?

We have to figure out a way to live in a world where it exists, and the source material from which it derives its content is properly credited and compensated.

But even if it were accepted and someone were going to pay me to use an AI engine to create work, I just wouldn't do it.

I don't create art just so I can have something to get paid for

I love sitting down with a piece of paper and a pencil... I enter this fugue state, hours go by and it feels like 15 minutes, and at the end, I have this incredible sense of satisfaction because I went on this journey and I've created something.
Trouble is, he hasn't accomplished much of anything since he became a senior publisher for DC, and his artwork's lost all meaning it may have once had. And maybe that could explain why they didn't notice AI made it past the editors' notice into the pages of the recent Batman comics. Why, what good does it do to imply he's not just in the job for the money when he's previously indicated he's fine with being in the job for pushing divisive leftism? Next, the interviewer amazingly brings up a subject that's quite pertinent for years already:
Is there too much violence in comics?

There's some truth to that.

It can be a shortcut to have them physically duke it out to resolve a crisis and I'm not sure that's the proper lesson you want readers to walk away with.

But I think in a lot of stories when it gets to that point, that's the only way to resolve it and perhaps that's a sad reflection on the state of the world today.
While it's interesting the TV channel was willing to ask such a vital query, it's still missing the far more vital question whether graphic violence and vulgarity's become too common in modern times in comicdom. Both DC and Marvel are guilty of enabling it to become commonplace, including a story where Roy Harper lost his arm. Let's also remember, again, how 2004's Identity Crisis minimized sexual violence, which is just as serious. And there was also a Spider-Man story where Morlun visited horrific violence upon the web-slinger's eye. And Lee failed to address or acknowledge mainstream comicdom went way too far with all that kind of content. He practically tried to obfuscate the subject.

So once again, a senior publishing employee has no ability to answer serious questions, and comes off far more unconvincing than providing something to think about. I don't know if he'd be better off just working as an artist as he did before, but it's clear Lee's not suited for the prominent job he's in, and never has been.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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