As a side project, I’ve been playing about with a computer program for generating comic strips. I posted some first examples a while ago, using randomly selected images.
The program still doesn’t do much, but it now talks to Flickr, the online photo sharing service, and fetches pictures who’s keywords match words in the accompanying sentence (picking ones with a high “interestingness” rating). Some semblance of meaning carries over from the words to the pictures, some of the time – and the repetition of images is interesting (especially the rat poison one). I don’t think us humans have much to worry about yet, though – the story’s carrying most of the work here, and that’s entirely human-generated.
Stay tuned, as I keep tuning the engine! And check out a similar project by Greg Borenstein, The Generated Detective – he’s got a bit further along a similar path, I think, and his semi-automated word generator balances the weight between the words and pictures nicely.
The Pig Man and Fish Man
I always preferred the Pig Man to the Fish Man.
He came round less frequently, and he was scarier.
This was when I was little.
The fish man just sat in his van.
Waiting for Mother to come out and buy his wares.
He looked like he was asleep.
Het from next door said one side of him was asleep at any time.
But she was wrong
That was sharks. Not fish.
The Pig Man would creep up on us,
When we were out playing in the mud.
First thing, usually, was his laugh.
Big and dirty and rough.
He’d ask us if we’d been naughty
And give us interesting things to play with.
Boxes of matches
Rat poison pellets
That sort of thing.
“Look sharp, men”, he’d say, “Mother’s coming”
And he’d put on a pious face, then
And tell her what good little kids we were.
I remember her buying clothes pegs from him
There must have been other things too
But it’s the clothes pegs I remember
He stopped coming after I was so old
Het said he’d been sent to prison
I carried one of those pegs in my pocket for years after
Mothers pegs – I knew they were mine really
Rubbing it for good luck, and saying “Now then, Men”
When things got a bit difficult