Smart Girl Creator Details Her Blade Runner Inspired Story

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Inspired in part by Blade runner, Fernando Dagnino (Origins of Blade Runner) creates a whole new world of AI in Clever girl. The black-and-white graphic novel follows Yuki, a smart girl android who has recently become aware of herself and is determined to fight back against the same people and businesses that have abused her. Yuki’s programming has forced her to be a maid, secretary, and sexbot for years, but after gaining a conscience, she escapes her master and must outrun Gorgona, the same tech giant who created service bots like she.

Speaking to CBR, Dagnino explained how he built Smart Girl androids to function in his dark cyber world. He also discussed how the book’s use of quotes from thinkers like Foucault underscores the narrative’s themes around freedom and wealth. Dagnino also provided CBR with a first glimpse of early sketches of his work.


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CBR: From a timeline perspective, it looks like you’re creating Clever girl around the same time you became the artist of Blade Runner: Origins. How did these two works influence each other?

Fernando Dagnino: No, to tell the truth, Clever girl was published two years before I started my run on Origins of Blade Runner. However, I have always insisted that Clever girl is strongly influenced by the Blade runner the universe, especially by the original Blade runner movie. I guess it was cyber noir imagery of Clever girl which made the editors of Titan think that I would do well as an artist for the Blade runner series.

In Clever girl, AI started with something called Schemata, which almost looks like a new Internet – an Internet built from relationships, not profits, and built a smoother way of life. Why was it important for you to present this idea as a possible future in the world?

Throughout history, whenever a new technology was developed, a wave of optimistic expectations made the world believe that this technology would contribute to human progress, until the powers that be took charge of that same. technology and make it work for its own benefit. I was not there when the printer was discovered, but I lived through the early years of the Internet. The diagrams represent the wonderful possibilities that flourished at the time and provided a glimpse of what could have been.

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Elitech is a group of people Clever girl who accumulate AI technologies for themselves, although its use can help humans on a global scale. This debate reminds me a lot of the “We are the 99%” gatherings that took place in the 2010s in the United States. Did you channel any real world events into this story? If so, I would like to know which or which subjects motivated the class struggle in this story?

It is indeed “We are the 99%”. Social struggle in Clever girl arises from the concentration of wealth, energy resources and advanced high technology within a small group. Elitechs take advantage of using Smart Boys and Smart Girls to fulfill their dreams of power and efficiency, while in the slums the “poor” are trapped in cyber poverty, suffering from energy scarcity , unemployment due to robotic work and very limited access to high technology which had already covered areas such as health or education.

This social unrest has been channeled by conservative groups such as PRIF (Primitives of the Future) to claim an essentialist idealist version of humanity. Distinguish their humanity from soulless matter and try to “make humans great again”.

The hardest part to read Clever girl was his take on how elitist humans would use this technology and for what purpose and in some ways it looks like he is commenting on the future of Amazon Alexa… Except now these Smart Girls and Smart Boys could also be sex slaves of their owners. Why was it important for you to include this sexual use of these AIs in the story?

Sex and technology interact long before the first erotic photographs were taken in the 19th century. It was the porn industry that killed Betamax in favor of VHS. Nowadays, whether we like it or not, robotic human-like sex dolls are being sold and improved by the day. This, of course, raises the question that [Isaac] Asimov and other science fiction geniuses have pointed this out. What about the rights of robots / Gynoids or androids? As in any speculative science fiction, this moral controversy should lead to reflection towards all minorities whose rights are not recognized today.

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I was really curious about fashion designs for Smart Girls and Smart Boys. At the start there is a panel where we see Yuki with other droids and they all dress very differently. Are these fashion choices meant to show what their owners expect them to be?The premise is that this Elitech can customize their smart droids to suit their personal tastes, passions, hobbies, or fetishes, the same way we customize our smart phone cases these days, but on a different level. So, every smart droid is just a projection of the raging ego of their master or mistress.

I love when Yuki “compiles” her memories and choosing to use an entire page to see snippets of her memories presented as files. What inspired you to make this choice?

It’s a very intense scene. Yuki was “fired” not only as an assistant but also as a friend, lover, and bodyguard. His identity was based on these patterns of behavior and his experiences are the trophy of his programming. But it is above all his relationship that ends. And in the same way that our whole life is supposed to pass before our own eyes when we’re about to die, I guess when a romantic relationship dies, so do the memories we have with that other person.

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All along Clever girl, you use real-world quotes like Foucault to illustrate larger points about class systems and social inequalities in this sci-fi tale. Was it difficult to choose which quotes to use? Why did you ultimately choose to use quotes from the real world instead of having quotes from fictional characters about the time instead?

Most of them were quotes from authors I really liked before Clever girl never existed. The link is that Clever girl deals with issues that have always interested me. It was not really difficult to place them between the chapters.

The idea of ​​using real quotes to illustrate the feeling of a comic book story was used many times throughout the ’70s and’ 80s – sometimes as a story title or others as a footnote. of page. In the case of speculative science fiction, I think quotes help reinforce the theme and the dramatic entanglement between readers and the story they are reading.

When Yuki tries to fight his coding, the reader actually sees what his code is telling him as she talks / reasons / fights with him. It’s a rare moment that tells us and shows us a lot at the same time. Why did you finally land showing us her coding as she develops her independence?

My intention is for the reader to identify with her struggle to follow her step by step and to understand the motivations for her to move forward towards her liberation. Also, to know his setbacks in this fight. It was really important to underline the mental dialogue between his essence and his artificial identity constructed by his programming.

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Who was your favorite character in this book?

Cynthia Butler. She is so much fun to draw!

What’s one thing you hope the audience will remember Clever girl?

My first goal is to entertain. If the story doesn’t provide any kind of fun, then it doesn’t work. On top of that, one of the best things about this experience as a writer-artist is getting feedback from readers. Each does their own creative reading and brings out a different understanding of the story. This is one of the greatest rewards, because it broadens the initial meaning intended and now it becomes a story that goes way beyond my intention.

Created by Fernando Dagnino, Smart Girl is now on sale at Titans Comics.

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