What you’re reading right now may turn into a series about making comics with Midjourney, or a candid confessional, or some ongoing promotional tool. However it evolves, the goal at the onset is simple: To provide some running commentary and behind-the-scenes glimpses at how a guy with absolutely zero visual artistic abilities made a comic book.
No, seriously. I can barely draw a stick figure. Don’t believe me? Here’s an alpaca I drew when I was 44 years old:
Here’s that same ridiculous alpaca drawing after I ran it through Midjourney, with nothing more than this single-word prompt:
alpaca --ar 5:3.
It seems to have rose petal fur and a pair of ears on its butt, but consider the source material it had to work with. Is this some jaw-dropping work of art? Not in my opinion. But it’s certainly more palatable!
It feels just a little bit like magic. And literally anyone can harness some of that magic to do things they’d never dreamed of.
So, I decided it was time to take an idea I’d dabbled with in long-form prose and turn it into a comic book. Midjourney became my AI artist, and I became the art director.
Imagination, Patience, Perseverance
As I wrote about extensively in this article, Midjourney has a very specific goal: to make humans more imaginative. And Midjourney has revived my imagination from a coma. At the beginning of 2022, creating my own comic book series wasn’t even a dream because I considered it impossible. But now that door that never existed has been created, unlocked, and opened right in front of me.
While it’s true my silly alpaca required no imagination, using an AI program to help visualize whatever is rattling around in your head takes a healthy mixture of imagination, patience, perseverance, and yes, even a little skill. Learning to effectively use “prompt craft” to create stunning visuals in Midjourney (and by extension DALL-e and Stable Diffusion) isn’t so simple as just describing what you want. It has its own mini-language and nuances and rules.
AI isn’t merely some “easy button.” It’s not necessarily a shortcut to creating meaningful art. It’s certainly not a replacement for a formal fine arts education. What is it then? For me, it’s a brand new tool that unlocks another way to tell stories.
That’s the big takeaway I’m constantly reminding myself of, and the lesson I hope you take with you if/when you decide to dive down the AI-generated artwork rabbit hole.
What About “The Funeral Diaries” Though?
I know. I’m verbose. It makes writing comics rather challenging! But just like the newfound visual possibilities Midjourney affords me, having my own blog with my own rules is a wonderful slice of freedom.
The Funeral Diaries, then. It’s a story about an ordinary boy who becomes an ordinary man. This ordinary man happens to work at a funeral home called “Hutchins & Young.” And his boss is a not-remotely-ordinary man who happens to be a time-traveling funeral director.
There’s love, life, death, music, mysterious coffins that appear on the beach, and inter-dimensional beings called The Everlasting that only speak in cryptic 7-word sentences.
Can you guess the humongous challenge of creating character-driven comics with Midjourney (or any AI program) as your lead artist? Yep, it’s very difficult to create consistency with a character’s facial features. Heck, it’s difficult to get them to face forward sometimes!
But with enough training, hurdles can be jumped over. With enough persistence and learning, challenges can be overcome.
I mean hey, a few short months ago, creating a comic wasn’t even a possibility for me.
So whatever this series becomes, I intend to share the problems and the solutions with you. Hope you stick around for the ride!