Playing for Pleasure

Playing for Pleasure

The Gag

This one’s unusual because it’s the first time Tony Isabella has come up with a gag not inspired by a piece of existing art. His original idea was for this to be a male baseball player who’d tried out for a “recreational” baseball team. He figured I’d have some comic art featuring baseball players. And I do.

But nothing that seemed quite right. And I had nothing at all with a baseball player at a bar sadly telling his tale of woe—which would’ve been Tony’s ideal version of the art.

So, I created some new art using artificial intelligence. But first I suggested to Tony that we make the baseball player a beautiful woman softball player. And instead of her trying out for her a recreational team, she wanted to be on her church’s team.

Tony liked the suggestions so much that he suggested we share writing credit for the gag. (I still think my suggestions were more along the lines of good editing than writing, but I’m happy to share a byline with Tony!)

The Art—First Attempt

Above is my preliminary art attempt using the MidJourney platform.

Typically, I’ll go through anywhere from 10 to or more attempts before I get a final piece of art. But here, something very close to the final art showed up in my very first attempt.

However, I asked MidJourney to give me some additional variations—just to see what would happen. I liked some very much. But most didn’t seem quite right for this gag. Or they had some sort of A.I. weirdness that would’ve taken too much time to clean up.

As for the word prompts used to create the art, I tell MidJourney to use several late-but-great comic book artist as influences. This time, though, I added Norman Rockwell to the art influences and listed him first so his work would be the primary art influence.

Second Attempt

Again, I liked all four of these—particularly the first in the upper left. But she’s behind the bar and appears to be the bartender instead of a customer. Plus, she’s not wearing a baseball cap. Two of the other three have the women wearing either a dress or a long, tight skirt—which seemed improbable for any sort of modern sports play. So, I decided to spin the MidJourney wheel again.

Third Attempt

This time I asked MidJourney to give me a version of one of the women from my first attempt. The lower left panel seemed closest to what I wanted. So I eventually went with that—making a few minor changes in Photoshop (mostly fixing her ear and hair a bit.) And then—I was done!

↓ Transcript
SCENE: A beautiful woman in a baseball cap and an outfit that looks vaguely like it could be a baseball uniform is sitting on a stool in a bar or restaurant.

WOMAN: I got kicked off my church softball team. When they asked what position I played...I said “reverse cowgirl.”

Art: A.I. Magic Writers: Tony Isabella & John Lustig