Gerry Native’s Bills’ Fiction Book On Sale
GERRY — A project a year and a half in the making has finally reached its finish line, just in time for holiday shoppers to support its cause.
Travis Carlson, a filmmaker from Gerry and an avid Buffalo Bills fan, created a comic style adventure book, titled, “Mafia: Buffalo vs. The Multiverse.” The book takes a week-by-week journey through the Buffalo Bills season beginning prior to last year, with opponents as fictional characters presenting a challenge to the Buffalo Bills inspired characters, led by “Josh of Allentown.”
A graduate of Cassadaga Valley High School in the Class of 2009, Carlson owns a film company called Pan-American Film Division. From the writing, illustrations, and the promotional trailers for the book, Carlson has been the one steering the ship the whole time. Because of that, this project is one of the most gratifying works of his career.
“It’s incredibly rewarding. This project has been a 15-month labor of love,” Carlson said. Carlson called the completion of the project “a massive relief” because of the amount of work he put into it in all aspects.
Carlson relied on his filmmaking prowess to promote his book, as he organized and directed a video featuring 60 crew members to help his fan fiction vision come to life. The crew composed a four-minute video on May 20 to 21, shot on multiple stories of the Buffalo RiverWorks site. The video was shot on a camera held by a drone, while Carlson directed the action via walkie talkie.
Carlson began exploring the concept of his book through writing fan fiction stories in online blogs. Over time, he honed his craft as a writer and began to pursue the idea as a tangible work of art.
“I started this just for my own interest, writing something that I thought would be fun, just for myself,” Carlson said.
His first post had roughly 50 viewers, and even fewer in subsequent posts. “I am now, retrospectively, going to say that proves I was writing it only for myself,” Carlson joked.
Armed with the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, Carlson transformed his stories into a full-length book – well over 200 pages in length – with images he created by using the latest advancements in AI.
“It’s just insane how fast it has moved,” Carlson said of AI advancements in recent years.
Initially, Carlson asked artists to create the book’s illustrations, but the artists he contacted about contributing to his project all stated they would struggle to produce photographs for use within a week’s timeframe, as Carlson produced the book week by week. That led him to AI, where he created the photos himself with MidJourney, an AI art generator.
“I was able to generate thousands of images,” Carlson said. “It went from being unable to create one image a week, to I was creating 2,000 images a week.”
Producing the images as a work of expression allowed Carlson to use the likeness of athletes and team logos. Carlson compared the use of AI to the development of other technologies over the years, such as the shift from typewriters and traditional portraits to using computers and cameras.
“This book wouldn’t have been possible without the tools that have emerged, literally as we’ve gone through it in the past year,” Carlson said. “I look at it as a tool. The tools aren’t going to replace anybody, it is just changing how much we can do and how fast we can do it.”
As a Gerry native, Carlson feels a strong desire to shine a spotlight on Western New York. That desire was a motivating factor throughout the process of writing and creating the book.
“I would consider Western New York being a little overlooked, especially in the national mindset. Being from here, feeling like an underdog, I have a lot of passion to make great work from here and about western New York,” Carlson said. “This project was one of those endeavors. … It certainly has an incredible amount of tender love and care.”
Carlson has pledged to donate 50% of the revenue to benefit the Pancho Packs initiative, which provides school supplies to students in need. Since the inception of the project and promotional video, more than $20,000 has been raised to benefit the Pancho Packs initiative.
Visit panamericanfilms.com for a link to purchase the book directly, where you can also view a promotional video Carlson created. The book is also available in a few select bookstores across Western New York, including the Good Neighbor Bookstore in Lakewood and Chautauqua Comics in Jamestown.