AI Artists Create Fat, Dark Sci-Fi Characters

He was hooked. “Sci-fi is like my church,” said Smith, now 47 and living in Philadelphia. “It’s spiritual and very connected to who I am as a Black, queer person.” The problem with his church, however, is that there isn’t much Black (or queer) representation.

Mainstream sci-fi has black characters like Morpheus from The MatrixMace Windu from Star Warsand Lt. Commander La Forge and Nyota Uhura from Star Trek. But in general, Black characters are not given the same prominence and screen time as their white counterparts. And when black people are there, they tend to be considered cishet and conventionally attractive. Fat, Black bodies are rare.

“It just amazes me that fat people in general are treated and portrayed as second class citizens in science fiction works, or they are made to represent something like greed, lust, or villainy ,” Smith said, pointing to the nature of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen of Dune.undefinedundefined “I used to do an amazing sci-fi reading series called Laser Life,” he added, “and when I was looking for guest readers, the first story I received described a villain who fat. A character’s fatness is portrayed in disgusting terms and taken as an obvious sign of their badness. It’s really disappointing.”

So when easily accessible AI art generators arrived last year, Smith, already an established visual artist, adopted these tools to create. several Black, fat, and queer characters from a more inclusive futuristic world. Among them is Marcus, whom Smith brought to life with Midjourney and D-ID, an AI platform that creates talking avatars. Marcus heads a division of the Electric Afro Science Institute, which Smith calls “a superhero-led independent afrofuturist organization working on biomechanics, cosmic engineering, nanotechnology, medical alchemy.”

Smith describes Marcus, who is queer, as “kind of a smart alec. A big, skinny nerd who thinks he’s a bit of a gangster. He likes to study moths and ants and trying to see what parts of insect life can be replicated in human life. In an animated picture of Marcus, which Smith posted on his Instagram, the character asks, “Who’s here to draw me? “

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