- Junyu Lin
Maria - A 120-page Graphic Novel
A graphic novel about a robot’s life
By Junyu Lin
It’s a story about a robot thought she gained humanity when nobody but a homeless man paid attention to her. The robot then escaped to embrace her new life but ended up being sold.
100-120 pages, colored comic
Teens and up audience
Maria: a household artificial intelligence robot, codenamed GM-502.
Billy: a homeless man living on the street.
Maria was an artificial intelligence robot. She was the company’s newest humanoid product, code-named GM-502. She was sent to the department store, placed in the center of the display stage. Her job was standing there every day, communicating with customers, and attracting them to purchase. Two years later, the company launched a new product, so GM-502 was moved to the left side of the stage. Fewer and fewer passing customers would interact with her. And on the fifth year GM-502 was removed from the stage and placed in the corner by the door. She completely lost anyone’s attention.
One day, a homeless man noticed GM-502 when he passed outside the store. Then he came to see her every day and talked to her as if GM-502 is a real person. (GM-502 could read lips.) GM-502 learned that his name was Billy. Billy seemed to imagine GM-502 as his friend and talked a lot about his life to her (although she barely gave any feedback). Day by day under Billy’s gaze GM-502 felt like she was back to old days when she was the center of the store. She felt she’s noticed and needed again. One day Billy said, “Maria, this is the name of my ex-wife. From now on, I will call you Maria. Hello, Maria.”
GM-502 felt like there was self-consciousness inside her awaken by this name. Now she is Maria. The next day she heard two shop assistants talking about her, “502 takes too much place, let’s move it into storeroom next week.”
That night Maria planned an escape. She hacked into the computer, unlocked the door, and walked out of the store. Five blocks away, she found Billy curled up in a blanket on the roadside. Billy was startled at first, but when he recognized Maria, he smiled.
The next day, Billy took Maria to a second-hand market and sold her out for 300 dollars. Maria was divided into pieces. The last thing she saw before her camera turned off was Billy’s smile, by reading lips she knew Billy was saying “Thank you.”