DC Drops Variant Covers by Artist Francesco Mattina After Alleged AI Use

If you read comics, you know the market is partially built on issues with variant covers drawn by different artists to entice collectors to snatch up any issue they can. This is particularly true for Marvel and DC Comics, and it’s now that latter that’s found itself pulling some of those variants entirely.

Last week, DC released its full solicitations for the month of September, and many noted the lack of covers from Francesco Mattina. He’s been a regular variant artist for the publisher for years, and you’ve likely seen his cover work for Batman and DCeased, among plenty others. Eagle-eyed comics fans later noted some of his work seemed off, and eventually determined he was using generative AI on his own covers, as you can see below with one he’d done for Action Comics #1069.

The allegations quickly spread online, and Mattina’s actions drew the ire of multiple artists within the comics community. GenAI remains a big point of contention for those in the entertainment industry, with many feeling like its usage will let corporations or clients avoid paying them by using the technology or just outright steal previously published work for their own ends. Adi Granov, a Marvel artist best known for his work with Iron Man, took things further by calling him a “serial plagiarist” who “made a whole career out of photobashing other people’s art (mine included) into whatever you want to call his ‘work.’ […] Not only is he a hack, but he’s not even good enough to hide the glaring mistake on one of the most iconic symbols in all of pop-culture.”

Image for article titled DC Drops Variant Covers by Artist Francesco Mattina After Alleged AI Use

Image: Francesco Mattina/DC Comics

At time of writing, all three of Mattina’s September covers—one for the aforementioned Action Comics, and two others for Superman #18 and Batman: The Brave & the Bold #17—have been pulled, and new covers from different artists to be announced at a later date. (His previously revealed cover for July’s Brave & the Bold #15 will be replaced by one from Khary Randolph.) Neither Mattina or DC appear to have commented on the matter, but this isn’t the first time DC’s had to contend with AI being used for its variant covers. Back in March, artist Daxiong came under similar fire with their covers, as did Andrea Sorrentino with his then-recent Batman issue. io9 contacted DC at the time, during which a spokesperson stressed the company has “longstanding policies in place that all artwork must be the artist’s original work.” Daxiong’s covers were subsequently replaced with ones from other artists, and no further comments were given on the matteer.

Companies across all industries are looking at how to incorporate genAI into their pipelines, and in the most public of cases—like Marvel Studios with Secret Invasion’s intro, or generated art within Late Night for the Devil—the response has been fairly negative. For a visual-heavy medium, using it to create covers featuring iconic characters is a bad move in several respects, and it’s now yet another thing that fans have to contend with on a monthly basis.

[via CBR]

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