ANGRY BOB ROSS! Celebrities who are very funny and VERY ANGRY — Generated by Artificial Intelligence! #21

Today we’re looking at some funny at Artificial Intelligence art and how it affects editorial cartoonists. We have the brilliant political cartoonist, Rick McKee, discussing his AI generated portraits of celebrities who are VERY ANGRY, and his AI caricatures of celebrities.

Rick McKee was the cartoonist for decades for the Augusta Chronicle in Georgia; he draws the comic “Pluggers” and we’ve syndicated Rick for 20 years. Rick generated the first syndicated political cartoon that was drawn by AI, that we discussed on Caglecast number SIX, and we saw more from Rick in our Artificial Intelligence episode #18 –go take a look at them on Caglecast.com.

Artificial Intelligence threatens us all –and no one knows better than political cartoonists how AI already threatens the jobs of journalists and cartoonists and may soon threaten to take over the world! Joining in the discussion are our anonymous cartoonist, Rivers, and indie cartoonist, Andy Singer.

See Rick’s work here: https://politicalcartoons.com/cartoonist/rick-mckee
See Andy’s work here: https://politicalcartoons.com/cartoonist/andy-singer
See Rivers’ work here: https://politicalcartoons.com/cartoonist/rivers

Should we syndicate an AI generated editorial cartoonist? We’ll discuss.

See the Caglecast at https://Youtube.com/@caglecast and please like and subscribe!

[00:00:00] Daryl Cagle: Hi, I’m Daryl Cagle, and this is the CagleCast, where we’re all about editorial cartoons, and I’m here today with my buddy, Rick McKee, brilliant editorial cartoonist, Rick McKee, who is also quite good with artificial intelligence. And he has done a lot of very interesting and fun experimenting with things.

[00:00:18] Daryl Cagle: And he did a, cartoon drawn by artificial intelligence that we did a podcast about. And we did an earlier podcast about artificial intelligence where, I had to cut the podcast short because we ran too long and I had a whole bunch of Rick’s great, uh, celebrity caricature AI drawings. So I decided to have one that is just all Rick and celebrity AI caricatures.

[00:00:43] Daryl Cagle: Nice to have you here, Rick. So, uh, Rick, thank you for joining us.

[00:00:48] Rick McKee: Yeah, good to be here.

[00:00:49] Rick McKee: The point of this one was, I was trying to think of, uh, you know, celebrity types that you never really saw get angry.

[00:00:57] Rick McKee: I think the AI prompt was something like, uh, screaming furiously, something like that. Bob Ross immediately came to mind, you know, he’s so gentle, and you never saw Bob Ross get angry, so this is particularly funny, I thought.

[00:01:10] Daryl Cagle: It is just so funny to see these people angry! Yeah,

[00:01:15] Rick McKee: it even looks like he’s maybe got some flames coming off his back or something. He’s so mad he’s about to burst into flames.

[00:01:22] Daryl Cagle: Okay, here you have Abe Lincoln. This is just as hilarious. We don’t ever see him having any expression.

[00:01:30] Rick McKee: Yeah, he was furious. think he was screaming at Mary Todd Lincoln about something. She left some dirty dishes in the sink or something.

[00:01:38] Daryl Cagle: Oh yeah, she can drive you crazy.

[00:01:40] Daryl Cagle: She really can. Rick, what the hell do we use this for? You

[00:01:44] Rick McKee: know, I don’t know nothing just to have fun. Although I I will say, I know for a fact there are some agencies poking around that do television and things like that and they are Looking at the opportunities for what this can be used for.

[00:02:01] Rick McKee: I’ve talked to a guy about that. I don’t know if there’s a possibility For me, it’s just for fun. I’m just doing it for fun. And I throw it out there on Reddit and see if anybody likes it or not. But, uh, As for practical application, I just don’t know yet. I know, I know that a lot of art directors, if they wanted a photo of Abraham Lincoln getting angry, they’ve got one immediately right there at their fingertips.

[00:02:23] Daryl Cagle: Of-course, this is going to have an impact on, on editorial cartoons, and I expect it will be sooner rather than later. I don’t know what that will be and I don’t know how we’ll deal with it. I expect it will be in the form of people submitting, cartoons that have very interesting graphics and, the point of view or the writing is, dubious and, and we need to make a decision about that.

[00:02:43] Rick McKee: Yeah, I agree. I will say that, before we did this podcast, yesterday, I went back just to try to see where it stood on creating editorial cartoons, and it’s still nowhere near. So, I think we’re okay, you know, for a couple more weeks. But, um, I tried one in your style, I tried one in my style, it doesn’t even seem to understand the concept.

[00:03:03] Rick McKee: But there’s a new version out, think it actually did better with the earlier version.

[00:03:07] Daryl Cagle: That’s Mid Journey 5. 2?

[00:03:09] Rick McKee: Yeah, Mid Journey 5. 2. And I think, I think Mid Journey 4 did a better job with, being creative. And I think Mid Journey 5. 2 is so focused on being photorealistic that i t’s lost some sort of making creative leaps.

[00:03:24] Rick McKee: It doesn’t, it doesn’t do as well. Like, um,

[00:03:26] Daryl Cagle: Well, that’s good. Maybe that gives us a few, a few weeks. Yeah. Here’s Stan Lee. Yeah. Stan Lee is very good.

[00:03:34] Rick McKee: I don’t think I’ve ever saw Stan Lee get really mad, but here he is, you know, he’s, he’s really upset there.

[00:03:40] Daryl Cagle: Yeah, you know, it does a good job with teeth.

[00:03:43] Daryl Cagle: It gives everybody good teeth. Well, it does

[00:03:46] Rick McKee: now, Some of the ones I think that we’ll see later, what it used to do is it would give you multiple rows of teeth, like a shark. It was really bad, but it seems to have gotten better at it. Just like it gave you way too many fingers, it gave you way too many rows of teeth.

[00:04:02] Rick McKee: And I think in one of them, I went in and I took some of the teeth out of Photoshop. But yeah, look at, he’s clenching his fists so hard, he’s white knuckle, he’s white knuckle angry. We know how Mr. Rogers can get, you know, I mean, he is furious.

[00:04:18] Daryl Cagle: Yeah, he can go over the top. this is funny.

[00:04:21] Daryl Cagle: I think I’m going to call this presentation Angry Bob Ross. There’s something about Bob Ross that is just, I think, the funniest of all these. Here’s Angry Jimmy Carter.

[00:04:30] Rick McKee: Oh, Jimmy Carter. Look at him. He is beside himself. he just looks a little bit disgusted, doesn’t he?

[00:04:35] Daryl Cagle: He does. Now, when we did our, artificial intelligence podcast, you had sent me a whole bunch of nice, celebrity caricatures that you did in AI, and, it really is nice at doing the caricatures.

[00:04:49] Daryl Cagle: Um, These are, these are, uh,

[00:04:50] Daryl Cagle: kind of serious looking, people. But the caricatures were caricatures. And it was creepy to me that it did so well at, uh, capturing the, the personality and exaggerating the things that really captured those people.

[00:05:05] Rick McKee: Right. The exaggerations were on point. The things you would want to exaggerate.

[00:05:10] Rick McKee: And, you know, I, I think it’s just out there scraping from other caricatures on, on these. I was looking for a more photorealistic effect, and not so much a caricature. So, you know, and it, it understood that.

[00:05:23] Daryl Cagle: Well, that is, uh, scary. And I see why this is so interesting and captivating. Of course I’d rather have people more interested and captivated in our editorial cartoons.

[00:05:34] Daryl Cagle: And, uh, I, I don’t know how this is gonna go. I, we just all sit back and watch. But we could make some decisions here about, uh, which way we might push things.

[00:05:47] Rick McKee: Well, you know, the, the NCS has come out with a statement. And they’re, they’re stridently opposed to any AI. And I understand that. NCS being National Cartoonist Society, for anybody watching this. They put out, when I did my editorial cartoon, they put out a statement about it, sort of, more or less condemning it.

[00:06:02] Daryl Cagle: There are some artists who have styles that are very much conducive to what AI can do, that I think are on the front lines to, to lose all of their work first.

[00:06:14] Rick McKee: Well, and the other thing that’s going on now, that I’ve noticed, One of the problems they’ve had was generating a consistent character. So let’s say you were drawing a children’s book. You know, you’re gonna need that little, whatever it is, that little character. Little boy, little girl, or robot, or dog.

[00:06:32] Rick McKee: Uh, to look the same on every page. And so it was having a difficult time capturing that look. And they’ve, they’ve come up with some workarounds where they do, character sheets. So you tell it, you give it a prompt, little girl, eight years old, pigtails, wearing a space suit.

[00:06:49] Rick McKee: And you tell it character sheet, and then it gives you just a whole bunch of that same little character in different angles and different poses. then if you’re good at Photoshop, you can go in and you can lift that character out of that page and plop it down into, an AI generated background.

[00:07:06] Rick McKee: And then all of a sudden, you know, you add words to it and you’ve got a children’s book and it looks wonderful, looks amazing. So, you know, that’s a real concern.

[00:07:14] Daryl Cagle: Really disturbing. okay, so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna go back to that, last, uh, podcast that we recorded and, that will, be you talking about your caricatures and That’s a fun conversation. And you are on with, Rivers, and Andy Singer Here you’ve got, Joe Biden. Tell us about this.

[00:07:34] Rick McKee: I was trying to come up with caricatures that didn’t look like illustrations. I was trying to come up with the most photorealistic caricatures that I could come up with. So that’s kind of where this started.

[00:07:47] Rick McKee: I didn’t even give it a

[00:07:48] Rick McKee: photo to start with, just text prompts. And the text prompt was something along the lines of, photorealistic caricature of Joe Biden

[00:07:57] Daryl Cagle: I noticed this on some of these. They look like they have puppet elements. So puppets was

[00:08:01] Rick McKee: Yeah. Part of the, well, a puppet is a 3D figure that I thought the AI would understand I was trying to give it and I thought maybe it could make that correlation and you know, and so, uh, Yeah, his hands kind of look puppetlike but what’s funny about this is Apparently Prince Charles has these Sausage fingers, and I didn’t tell it to do that. It just did that on its own.

[00:08:28] Daryl Cagle: You know, they’re talking about how programmers are going to be obsolete very soon, and, the new skill is writing instructions for AI to get it to do exactly what you want.

[00:08:39] Daryl Cagle: And you’ve done a whole lot of this to the point where you’re getting wonderful results. I think anybody that just starts playing with AI to get images sees that they’re, pretty crummy and it’s quite a skill set to develop to get something good out of it.

[00:08:53] Rick McKee: Yeah, it just takes, it takes a little practice to, figure out, How to get what you want out of it and, and then there’s some technical things as far as aspect ratios and, you know, horizontal versus vertical and that sort of thing.

[00:09:05] Rick McKee: But I’ve been playing with it, uh, about a year now. So, I feel like this is where everything’s going and I’m just fascinated by it and it’s just blows my mind how you can just turn this stuff out in a matter of minutes. And, it’s fun to play with and terrifying with what its able to do.

[00:09:21] Daryl Cagle: So it’s a matter of minutes for you because you’ve spent a lot of time developing a set of instructions that works for different caricatures when you fit them into the same instructions.

[00:09:32] Rick McKee: That’s right. So I took the basic prompt. You know, if you’re not getting exactly what you want, you can add words, take away words.

[00:09:41] Rick McKee: And try to coax it into something that you, you know, that you want.

[00:09:46] Daryl Cagle: Well, this is hilarious and you know, her hand makes me laugh and Yeah. I’ve got the hand is a comment in itself. And the hair is hilarious now. Yeah. It’s not, it’s not the AI that’s being funny with that. You must be putting that into the prompts.

[00:10:01] Rick McKee: No, the AI is being funny with it. The AI did that. I didn’t do that.

[00:10:06] Daryl Cagle: We think of those as the reason that human cartoonists exist in order to make those kind of visual, uh, comments in their work. And you’re saying that, no, this is hilarious visual commentary entirely coming from the machine.

[00:10:23] Rick McKee: Yeah. And so what I did do was

[00:10:24] Rick McKee: part of the prompt was exaggerated. You know, I, I, I put the word exaggerated in and some other descriptive word like that. And so, you know, she’s got this. This hair, and the AI understood caricature, and understood exaggerated, and understood photorealistic, three dimensional, sort of puppet like, and so, you put all that together, and this is what it turns out.

[00:10:51] Daryl Cagle: Well, I find her hand particularly funny. Did you say anything about her hand?

[00:10:55] Rick McKee: No. Nope. It just did that.

[00:10:59] Rivers: I actually find it disturbing. So, uh, obviously you’ve been at this for a year, so I have a question. What subscription, service, level would you recommend?

[00:11:10] Rick McKee: It depends on how much time you want to spend with it.

[00:11:13] Rick McKee: Um, I’ve got the upper tier subscription. Originally they offered free, which was a limited amount of generation. They’ve done away with that. And so now the lowest tier is $10.00 a month. And you have 200 hours of generations, but, you can burn that up pretty quickly.

[00:11:31] Rick McKee: I was finding that I was, uh, you know, as I work, as I do my cartoons, I’ll keep it running in the background. If something pops in my head, I’ll go over there and just bang in a prompt just to see what I can come up with. And, uh, so I’ve gone to the, which it’s like $30.00 a month, but I, you know, um, I use it as a business expense and I think it’s.

[00:11:48] Rick McKee: I think it’s the future. So, you I’m just trying to learn as much as I can about it. Um, so yeah, that’s the, that’s the upper tier. And,

[00:11:55] Daryl Cagle: I can see doing a, a caricature feature in, syndication doing these. And these would all be uncopyrighted,

[00:12:05] Daryl Cagle: Would we get objections if we did that? Um,

[00:12:09] Rick McKee: Probably, yeah, probably so. Do you think we

[00:12:12] Andy Singer: should I’m curious, which I brought up before, but, um, there is, and this goes back to before AI, um, just looking at computer animation technology. in the last, 20, 25 years, everything looks the same. So, there’s the Toy Story sort of a way of doing computer animation, which I have a feeling relates to the programs like Maya and stuff.

[00:12:43] Andy Singer: Um, there’s a certain line computer animation art, which, you see in family guy and, um, you know, zillions of things that on some level kind of knock off the symptoms, but also I think it has to do with the technology and the aesthetics and. I wonder the same thing about AI. It’s very good at a certain aesthetic, but how does it handle…

[00:13:08] Andy Singer: I go back and look at old… Uh, animations in the 60s and 70s that were done with cell animation. And they have this certain beautiful hand drawn quality and diversity of style, um, that just doesn’t exist anymore. And I wonder whether, um, AI generated imagery is going to be

[00:13:30] Andy Singer: similar to that.

[00:13:31] Rick McKee: I mean, that’s a good point. But what I, I could tell you is, having played with this, if I wanted to take these same images and type in…

[00:13:39] Rick McKee: You know, I could take Barack Obama, and then I could I could hit a variation button, and then I could add to the prompt “In the style of a Harper’s Magazine, illustration from the 1800s”, and it would, boom, turn that into That style of that lithograph look,

[00:14:01] Andy Singer: i’d love to see that Okay, I guess I guess I need to subscribe

[00:14:06] Rick McKee: Well, yeah, I mean, you know, you can cancel in any time and for 10 bucks a month, you know It’s it’s I think it’s worth fooling around with.

[00:14:14] Rick McKee: Um, i’ve done these i’ve showed Daryl. some of these submarine images in the style of Harper’s Magazine lithographs, and you’d look at it, and you’d swear.

[00:14:24] Daryl Cagle: You really would think that that’s what it was, and you also showed me some, you asked for it to do blueprints. Those were the most beautiful looking hand drawn blueprints.

[00:14:36] Rick McKee: Schematics, blueprints, it does cutaway infographic looking stuff, which is something I’ve

[00:14:40] Daryl Cagle: seen lately. Yeah, you know if it you can do these classic looking etchings that look like they’re by hand and and I think Yeah, and um, I think that’s because they’ve just been spending more time on putting that into it than they have Individual cartoonists who who have a style to their hand their wrist, right?

[00:15:04] Daryl Cagle: I’m pessimistic about it. I I think it’s gonna do very well at all that That stuff that we think is special to us very soon

[00:15:12] Daryl Cagle: this Oprah is

[00:15:13] Daryl Cagle: Excellent.

[00:15:14] Rivers: Can I go back to that last cartoon? I noticed I know that Rick does not like Donald Trump It’s very apparent And I was kind of contrasting that with the image of Barack Obama before Where it was somewhat? It’s kind of nice of him You know, very appealing. I’m wondering as a, as a conservative cartoonist, um, why you Um, like obviously you would enter in the prompts here, but what, what was it that you entered in to make him look as appealing as he does here?

[00:15:50] Rivers: And then in the following one, you made Trump look as terrified and, and monstrous as, as he does here. Is that something that you, um, that you asked for, or is that something that the AI actually interpreted for you?

[00:16:07] Rick McKee: It’s the way the AI interpreted it. I used the same prompt and just switched out the names.

[00:16:12] Daryl Cagle: So the AI is liberal.

[00:16:15] Rivers: That’s very, very clear. Yeah. I know I did some, you know, chat, chat, uh, GPT. I did some, some kind of deep, searches when it came to, some topics like for instance, the Australian fire, that happened in 2020. And it was interesting that it could not tell me anybody who had committed arson.

[00:16:39] Rivers: But it could tell me who all the J6, um, principals were, and I find that very curious that it, and it always came back with my, uh, my, my understanding is limited to a certain date in 2021.

[00:16:55] Daryl Cagle: I think

[00:16:55] Daryl Cagle: chat GPT is limited in how much it scraped the internet for facts. They give you warnings about how, uh, you shouldn’t rely on it for facts that somebody.

[00:17:06] Daryl Cagle: had it do a bio on me and sent that to me just because it was shocking how it got everything wrong in my bio. Yeah, I did. My bio is ridiculous, but they say that they’re, uh, letting it scrape for facts now, and that probably will be solved soon.

[00:17:23] Rick McKee: Uh, but that goes, the free version of GPT only goes back to

[00:17:27] Rick McKee: 2021.

[00:17:28] Rivers: 2021. Yeah. So, but that goes back to what I was kind of, um, getting to. And that is that this, this interpretation of Donald Trump seems to be, um somewhat. And I would say programmed by somebody who really does not like Donald Trump, as opposed to somebody who seems to really like Barack Obama.

[00:17:49] Rick McKee: I would say one thing that’s going on, if you, if you just do a Google image search of Obama and then do a Google image search of Trump, uh, there’s a lot more images of Trump because he holds all these rallies where he’s actually making this screamy kind of face that he makes when he’s, when he’s up there and he’s, he’s had a lot more.

[00:18:09] Rick McKee: angry type speeches than Barack Obama ever gave. So I think when it’s out there scraping for images, that’s kind of what you’re getting. You’re getting the angry, Trump, Trump built his brand on angry populism, which Barack Obama did not. And I think, I think it’s reflecting those images.

[00:18:28] Daryl Cagle: we think of America being kind of evenly divided between, crazy right and, uh, rational left, so you would think that you’d get an even, uh, distribution of pro Trump and anti Trump images, but that doesn’t consider the rest of the world, which is all pretty anti-Trump, and their images would all be on the con side.

[00:18:49] Daryl Cagle: So I could see that if it was just scraping everything in the world, it would get more anti-Trump than pro-Trump.

[00:18:56] Rivers: Well, I mean, that

[00:18:58] Andy Singer: seems like… All the human biases are baked into this stuff. You know, and all human, um, you know, human greed, human, um, desire to be God, human everything is baked into AI, so.

[00:19:11] Rick McKee: It’s a mirror. Yeah, we’re holding, we’re holding up this mirror, and uh, that’s, AI is just. Showing us basically, you know, what we’ve put out there.

[00:19:19] Rivers: So AI is interpreting that, that, uh, Barack Obama was, was pure as the driven snow and, and wonderful. And, Trump was, was this evil maniac. Um, I, I just find that very curious.

[00:19:31] Rick McKee: Well, I don’t know that, I don’t know that Obama is pure as the driven snow, but I do think you’re correct when you say Trump is an evil maniac. I think you got that one right.

[00:19:41] Daryl Cagle: Uh, this Oprah is hilarious, Rick. And this is all full of what you would think is, human visual wit.

[00:19:49] Rick McKee: Yeah. I mean, look at that hair. It looks like real hair. It’s crazy.

[00:19:52] Daryl Cagle: Here is Snoop Dogg. Yeah, somebody made the

[00:19:55] Rick McKee: point, I posted these on Reddit, and somebody said, And as usual, Snoop Dogg just looks like Snoop Dogg. He’s not really, he’s not really caricatured that much. I went and I compared this image. You know, he’s, he’s caricatured lightly, but, uh, Kind of just looks like himself.

[00:20:11] Daryl Cagle: It does. this one I thought was hilarious. And this one has a lot of what you would think of a clever caricature.

[00:20:18] Rivers: That one almost looks ghoulish though, I, I really like the, Oprah Winfrey one that, that didn’t seem to have much of an editorial content to it where some of these are almost, there’s kind of like kindness and when I look at that I think of somebody who’s, uh, very kind and, and, and, uh, kind of a reflection of what society views her as.

[00:20:39] Rivers: But I’m not too sure that that last image was kind at all. It’s,

[00:20:44] Andy Singer: well, it’s,

[00:20:44] Daryl Cagle: well, he, it’s not, he, he plays a, a bad No, this is, uh, Willem Defoe. Yeah. Willem Defoe. Okay.

[00:20:51] Rick McKee: He plays a lot of, uh, villains.

[00:20:54] Rivers: Yeah, I suppose. Yeah.

[00:20:57] Daryl Cagle: He’s the Green Goblin. He’s, uh, oh, I

[00:21:00] Rivers: forgot about he’s guy. Yes, he, that’s right. He was, Yeah,

[00:21:03] Rick McKee: he’s been a lot of bad guys.

[00:21:04] Rick McKee: You gotta worry.

[00:21:05] Daryl Cagle: That’s the last one I have from you, Rick. Okay. Okay. So, uh, I, I’m very impressed with this. Rick. You wanna, you wanna do politicians and put it up as another feature? You could be an anonymous AI cartoonist. Anonymous works for Rivers.

[00:21:22] Rick McKee: Nah, I got, I got my hands full.

[00:21:24] Rick McKee: I’m sure somebody else will come along and do it.

[00:21:26] Andy Singer: You could just, um, you could, um, appear with a, computer screen over your head like the residents used to have the eyeball costumes or something.

[00:21:34] Rick McKee: Yeah, or it could be like Max Headroom.

[00:21:36] Andy Singer: Yeah, yeah,

[00:21:37] Rivers: yeah, yeah. There you go. I know I’ve seen quite a few Trump g enerated images like, uh, AI generated images of Trump that make him look like the second coming where he’s riding a white horse or he’s some kind of, great soldier or triumphal historical figure.

[00:21:55] Rivers: Um, and I’m, I’m just, they, they obviously use, they’re using prompts to make him look that way, as opposed to the one that Rick had up.

[00:22:03] Daryl Cagle: Okay, gentlemen, that is, uh, I guess we’ve, uh, we’ve talked this through and thank you so much, Rick. I’m really impressed with all this stuff. And thank you, Andy. It was great to have you here for the first time. I hope you do some more of these with us.

[00:22:18] Andy Singer: Yeah, that was great. Thanks. That was nice to meet you.

[00:22:20] Rivers: And don’t forget about me.

[00:22:22] Daryl Cagle: I love you Rivers. Thank you for being here. Bye guys. Okay, um, that was uh, the end of our extra on uh, AI with with Rick McKee’s caricatures. Remember to subscribe to the Caglecast wherever you’re watching this. Subscribe to the Caglecast. SUBSCRIBE to the Caglecast. Our Caglecast is available in both video and audio versions.

[00:22:48] Daryl Cagle: So if you don’t see the cartoons, go to Cagle.Com or Apple Podcasts or Caglecast. com or YouTube or Spotify to see the cartoons and video podcasts. Keep coming back every week for another Caglecast and we will see you next time. Thank you again, everybody. And see you later.