Robot 6

Quote of the day #2 | The ‘residue of shit’ on comics by celebrities

Shia LaBeouf

“The comic book world is a tough business. If you’re a celebrity with a comic, it already has a residue of shit on it because so many shit celebrity slash wrestler slash race-car driver slash who-gives-a-fuck books have already tainted the possible audience for it. This is not a get-rich-quick thing, it’s not a way to prolong my career – I would like the same fans that I respect in comics to like my books, and I know the only way to get there is to earn it, and the only way to earn it is to come up the same way everybody else does, as much as I can.”

Actor and now comic creator Shia LaBeouf, who attended this past weekend’s C2E2 to sell his self-published comics.

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34 Comments

Well he’s saying all the right things …

“This is not a get-rich-quick
thing, it’s not a way to prolong my career” Well that’s good. Otherwise
he would die poor and unknown… It’s certainly doesn’t seem to be a
way to put out a good product either. Seriously man. What a douche.

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Good for him. I hope his comics are good, and if they aren’t, that he keeps working and making good comics. Give the guy a break, people. Just ’cause he made some movies–some of which he doesn’t think are good, either (and neither do I)–doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything interesting to say.

How so? He’s saying that he doesn’t want to be perceived like the legions of celebrities who slump into comics, shit something out and leave. He sounds like he has genuine passion for this. He’s self-publishing, for a start, which is something that not even the likes of Whedon had to do, coming in to comics. 

Unfortunately, what he SHARES with all of the other celebs that have created comics is instant name recognition.  Unlike his fellow self-publishers, his pitch doesn’t NEED to be content or skill, because his name will (obviously) garner attention and potentially sales alone.  If he really wanted to try it out from the ground-up, with a nod toward what he has to offer the medium, he should of done it with a fake name. 

But then you see what he’s actually self publishing and you go “This is comics?”

Its glorified crayon. And only the guys doing Tiny Titans and Superman Adventures get to draw in crayon and we go “Aw yeah that’s Comics!”

Before cheering LaBeouf’s sage words, commenters really ought to follow the link and read his “comics.” I’m all for giving a beginner some leeway to learn the craft, but cmon, dude’s books don’t even have panels. He’s not even close to the right track.

All he was saying is that he’s trying to not put out a useless book just because he can. He was making an actual humble comment. You can’t call them a douche for saying something humble.

 That was my thought, too, when I read the interview he did at Rolling Stone (done by Robot 6 alumni Sean T. Collins!) and while I could see going anonymous with it as a way to really start at ground zero, he’d also miss out on the opportunity to get in front of people in artists alley, like he did at C2E2, if he was trying to hide his identity. 

I call him a douche for exactly that. He put out a useless book just because he could. Have you seen it? It’s not even a comic book! I’ve seen elementary school kids produce better quality content, and they don’t charge ridiculous prices for it! He’s taking advantage of his “fans” and the comic community just to indulge his hobby.

He shows up at a comic convention in artist alley as a “surprise”, taking the time and money of fans of legitimate comic book creators who make their living that way. Some of those creators may have lost out on sales because people wanted to meet “the guy from transformers” and buy his crap. And the majority admit that they didn’t buy it because it was good but because it was more of a novelty, being that “the guy from transformers” did it.

It would be different if he put in a solid effort to produce a good product (and maybe even collaborated with people in the industry) worthy of charging those prices for, but this whole thing really comes off as a half-assed after thought or publicity stunt. Hence, Shia LaBeouf = DOUCHE that takes advantage of COMIC BOOK fans.

Alterna Comics

April 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

 as a self-published comic book artist and writer, and as someone that started their own independent publishing company…….. i would reject shia’s work.   it’s pretty damn bad.  and it’s not even a comic book.

 he definitely should have used a pseudonym if he wanted to truly work his way up.  but first, he should try to improve his art and writing….and also try to make a real comic book and not an illustrated book.  i also doubt that most self-publishing comic creators are millionaires. 

I like how the reaction to “I want to earn the respect of my readers and I realize I have an uphill battle against me in this regard, but I’m going to do my best” is “FUCK THIS GUY, FUCK HIM COMPLETELY”

TheRevelatorJohn

April 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I couldn’t help but laugh. He’s doing exactly what the other “shit celebrities” have done. If you want to earn it, you don’t charge the amount of money he did. Especially for pages that looked like a attention starved child had done.

But if it’s good, more power to the guy, I say….

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Yeah, you guys are right. Fuck him.

Because of course, how dare he not produce great work? He’s a movie star, after all, and he should just shut his mouth if he’s not producing something totally brilliant. How dare he take advantage of people interested in comics by showing his face at a comics convention and making a bazillion dollars off his self-published little books. I mean, he must’ve walked away with what, at least ten thousand dollars, right?

How dare someone try to express himself in a different way! 
I don’t like Shia’s movies, I don’t particularly love his work, but one of the reasons I like comics in the first place is that it’s a relatively homespun place for self-expression. You don’t need corporations backing you to make a personal comment. People knocking the guy for daring to show up with his self-published pamphlets–that’s “douche” behavior.

I hope that he does some good work, and you douches who wanna knock the guy for trying, I hope you’ll try and make some comics, too, and that your work will also be good. Because if it’s good, I’ll buy it and probably like it, and I’ll probably ask others to check it out, too. If it’s not good, I won’t recommend it and I won’t knock you for giving it a shot.

‘Cause that’s called being “supportive” and positive, and I’d way rather be someone who encourages people than someone who knocks them down. 

 Everybody’s got to start somewhere. Yeah his first comic was crap. So was my first comic. They DO get better if you work hard and keep at it.

I took too long in giving Gerard Way a chance with his Umbrella Academy because of my feelings about his music.
So, you know what? Despite thinking Shia LeBeouf is a shit actor, if his comics are good then I wish him well. Heck, even if they’re not, but he took the time to write and/or draw these to the best of his ability, good for him.

Saying the right thing and DOING the right thing are completely different. Most people are not hating on him for trying. That is commendable. If he wants to do a book, more power to him. We wish him success. What people do seem to be upset about is, that he showed up at a comic convention with a “comic book” that is NOT a comic book in any way. What’s worse, he charged more for this terrible (TERRIBLE!) “book” that he slapped together than most professionals who spent their lives honing their craft charge. It’s not “how dare he try” as much as, “how dare he insult the intellect of the comic community by shilling something that required no talent or effort to make, for ridiculous prices.” In artist alley no less? Like he is on par with the likes of Joe Benitez or something? That is self-serving arrogance. THAT is douche behavior. If he didn’t have his other “career”, would there be a line for the product he produced? Would this even be posted here?

Again, if he wants to self-publish and have a book he did all by himself, great! Setup a bookstore signing and promote it on your own time. Don’t crash a comic convention and insult fans (and legitimate creators) by pushing your “self-expression”…

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Ahh, bullshit. He has a right to charge however much he wants, you don’t have to buy it. Are you implying that anyone not on a level with Joe Benitez shouldn’t be allowed to set up in Artist Alley? What about those on a higher level? I’ve seen Jordi Bernet in Artist Alley–should no one that meets his level be allowed to set up and sell their books?

You’re right in noting that were le Beouf not a celebrity, this comment wouldn’t be posted here. But his comment is SPECIFICALLY about the uphill battle one faces when trying to branch out. I guarangoddamntee you there’s tons of work in any artist alley that does not meet my own personal interest or that I think isn’t professional quality. But I don’t think it’s right to talk shit about people who are trying to make something.

How in the holy hell is setting up at a table at a craft fair (which is what cons are) more self-serving than setting up bookstore signings? That’s totally nuts. 

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I did the same thing. I had less than no interest in My Chemical Romance, figured “oh, another celebrity slumming in the comic book world”, avoided Umbrella Academy. For a long time.

Then I read the first collection and damn if it isn’t one of my favorite superhero books in years. Which led me to investigate a little further into his band, and I even somewhat liked that. 

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

For what it’s worth, I did read the comics and they didn’t appeal to me. But Anders Nilssen’s work doesn’t have panels, either. Is he on the wrong track? I don’t know that le Beouf is on the wrong track, it may be that I can’t see where he’s headed yet. 

This is to say–he might be making good comics or he might be making bad comics but for those knocking the guy because he’s an actor is bullshit and unfair.

It’s not nuts. And I believe you are missing the point. The difference is, with a bookstore signing he would be selling his “book” to people who buy books. Not insulting comic book fans by crashing a convention. Also, at a bookstore signing, it could be just about him which he apparently loves. Whether he claims to be or not, he’s using his fame to sell it. Otherwise no one would buy it. That’s not wrong or anything. Just inappropriate for the venue. So, if he had a bookstore signing, it could be “come meet the actor and buy his book”. And people could choose whether or not to go for that specific reason.

Also, you are correct. No one HAS to buy it. He CAN charge whatever he wants. But to be fair, would anyone pay that much if he wasn’t a celebrity? Would he charge that much if he weren’t “famous”?

You don’t have to be on the same level as a superstar artist to set up a booth. But you should not insult said artists (or even the little guy who may not be a superstar) by being arrogant enough to think you are on that level. These people dedicate their time, talent, heart and lives to this craft.

Regardless of quality, if you worked your ass off for months to write, draw, or otherwise create a comic book, saved up the $1,000 or so to have it printed, saved up the ridiculous $700 or more for a booth, did all the promoting yourself, and devoted everything you could to making your self-published endeavor a success only to have a “celebrity” who did NONE of that, crash the show you’ve been waiting for, how would that feel?

At least if he had his publicist set up a bookstore signing, he wouldn’t be stepping on anyone’s toes, and we could look at his “book” for what it is. Le Beouf expressing himself.

It’s not about bashing a celebrity for branching out in a different medium. Quite the opposite. Gerard Way’s book is good because he actually took the time and tried to produce a good product. When you don’t take the time, put in the work, and produce something that is obviously an after thought, then try to pitch it at people just for money, that is what is lame and insulting.

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I save up the money and appear at conventions all the time; just did Emerald City and am doing Stumptown Comics Fest next weekend, then off to Heroes, NYCC and others this year. If your complaint is that the guy didn’t have to save up, that’s silly.

But it sounds like your point is that you think that his work is an afterthought and that he isn’t serious. He may not be; I can’t read his mind. But neither can you, and he says he’s serious, so I take him at his word. It doesn’t offend me at all.

What would offends me is when celebrity is used to dishonestly sell a product the celebrity has no investment in whatsoever–Adrien Brody advertising a razor or Diet Coke, for example (and I like Adrien Brody). Le Beouf made the comic himself and apparently is proud of it. 

There’s no CRASHING of a comic convention. Rod Blagojevich at a comic convention a few years ago, that’s crashing. Movie stars doing signings at a con, to me that’s more in line with crashing. But a guy making a comic book and selling it at an artist alley table–NOT making himself a featured guest of that con (where he could get WAAAYYYY more attention, make more money and undoubtedly sell far more of his books) but setting up and humbly presenting his work, I find that not only exploitative but honorable. I hope he keeps working at his comics and that he makes some good ones.

Matthew Southworth

April 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Exactly. Pretty dispiriting view of comics fandom, if you ask me.

 I do give the guy
credit for wanting to express an artistic vision, but he’s created the exact
sort of vanity project situation he’s railing against.  The art wasn’t professional, sure, but the
fact was the lettering / text was nearly unreadable in places.  Even if the writing was interesting / witty /
insightful  enough to overcome the art’s
severe handicap, it gives you eyestrain trying to make it out.  Celebrity or not, if you want to be taken
seriously, you can’t have the finished product that you’re charging a
comparatively ridiculous amount for something that looks like you threw together on a
whim in a single bored afternoon.   

Twenty bucks will get you a book full of some of the best
material the medium has to offer.   He
needs to respect that a lot of folks don’t make $20 every few minutes the way
he does when he’s at his job, so when he’s asking for that kind of money in
return for his art, he has a certain standard to live up to, and the finished
product shouldn’t have the air of like he threw it
down on the back of a cocktail napkin while waiting for the next round to show
up.  DIY doesn’t always net you cred — you’re allowed to make mistakes, but making it seem like you don’t really care about the finished product isn’t one of them. 

He’s almost setting himself up intentionally to
be the ‘tortured artist’ so he can complain about how people just aren’t giving
him a fair shot and he’s got this huge celebrity albatross hanging around his
neck . . . not the way to win anyone’s respect.

Dude, he has a day job.  He self-publishes and self-distributes.  He paid for a table at artists alley with no fanfare at all.  He wasn’t invited.  He wasn’t advertised by the con.  He just showed up on his on volition, on his own dime, to sell books that he has made, that he printed himself (although he could have done it cheaper and kept the price down, but hey, everyone learns), that he is proud of and wants to be the face for, not some cash-in publishing company.  He’s doing artists’ alley for every reason it exists.  Have you ever been to a con before?  There are dozens of tables that sell nothing but prints of characters the artist doesn’t even own.  How are those more legitimate than what he is doing?  Just because you don’t like his work, work that he has done to the best of his ability, work of his own creation, doesn’t mean he is cashing in on his status.  Sure, some celebrities are more adept than others, but I HIGHLY doubt Gerald Way knew how to write a proper script without an editor’s help.  It’s not an afterthought.  He tries to create things.  If you’ve read his interviews, you’d know he likes to make things with his friends.  He’s made shorts that are completely funded by himself.  He just likes the act of creation, and he wants to try creating different things.  You’re being a dick to think he doesn’t deserve to do that and talk about it.

 He’s no more taking advantage of comic book fans by self publishing a fairly bad comic than the “superstar” comics proffesionals who have built a career of doing exactly the same. When you break it down to brass tacks, is this guy really any worse than someone like Geoff Johns or Rob Liefeld?

Michael Pullmann

April 19, 2012 at 7:04 am

I love how the artist you hold up as some kind of benchmark of professional quality is mediocre at best and downright terrible at worst.

Michael Pullmann

April 19, 2012 at 7:05 am

Good to know nerd tribalism is alive and well.

Haters gonna hate. Sure his “comic” sucked like many truly indie efforts but he went the Artist Alley route. He didn’t use his clout to get a publishing deal through any of the multitude of crappy comics publishers who would gladly go for the press that signing him would draw. 

Did he take away from anyone at Artist Alley? Doubtful. The people that bought his book for the novelty and/or the autograph probably weren’t interested in quality work anyway. But expecting him to change his name just to strip away any semblance of success he’s had outside the comic book realm is ridiculous. I wouldn’t pretend to be someone else just so some fat guy in a Green Lantern shirt won’t feel like as much of a failure. That’s my name. I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it.

Matthew Southworth

April 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I agree with everything you’re saying, Frere. Only thing I wanted to mention is that I think Gerard Way had been an intern at DC Comics years before his band took off, and I also believe he went to art school (this is all from vague memory, so I might be wrong on both counts). In any case, I’d bet he’d fumbled around with comics for years before and during his band’s success.

Not trying to “school” you or anything silly like that–just info I found interesting.In any case, UMBRELLA ACADEMY turned out to be fantastic. To Victor Stone and David Rivera and others–come on, just try being supportive. And go buy some other indie material, vote with your wallets.

Using a pseudonym to avoid some kind of preexisting fame, whether from a parent’s career or your own alternate career, just seems to me to be a very very personal decision that I’m hesitant to second-guess. I respect Joe Hill, for example, for doing what he did. But I also respect LaBeouf’s obvious desire to have these things that he made bear the name of the person who made them. I would never deny any artist that right, since making art is so personal.

Victor:
It sounds from your statement that you’re really upset to see an actor like LeBoeuf ‘crashing’ artist’s alley by printing a comic and paying for his space. The statements you make sound as if you feel there should be some ‘quality standard’ that needs to be met by any artist who wants to present their work at a comics show.

I have to ask, how would you have felt about LeBoeuf appearing at C2E2 if he was only there to sign autographs in the ‘celebrity’ area? Would it have made any difference?

Life is unfair because we can’t all be famous movie stars. But we CAN all be small press artists, and we CAN all share our work at conventions.

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