Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

December 16, 2013

Shia LaBeouf 2012 Short Film "Howard Cantour" Accused Of Lifting Material From Daniel Clowes Comic

imageSo I guess the actor Shia LaBeouf released a short film he made about an Internet film critic onto the Internet today and it's a lot -- a lot -- like the Daniel Clowes short comic "Justin M. Damiano," most recently included in The Daniel Clowes Reader. I don't know what's more amazing, that this happened or that no one noticed for about, I don't know, 18 months? I guess certain worlds don't cross streams, but still. The public posting and people subsequently noticing the similarity is the first Clowes heard of it, apparently.

Actually, let me take that back: that it happened is much weirder than it not being noticed. And the thought process behind it -- a thought process no one I've spoken to can fathom -- is the thing that may be weirder. Maybe we'll see if it gets unpacked a bit what the thinking was there.

I suppose someone might make some sort of stab at an argument that this kind of thing isn't seen as theft in some circles -- I've seen stridently passionate arguments of that type in the face of equally open-and-shut accusations -- but I can't figure out how any argument might be convincing. Someone just pointed out to me there's no script credit, so it could be that there will be a claim for the Clowes comic as something that "informed" the film in the same way that the conception that Jules Feiffer offered up of Superman in his "Great Comic Book Heroes" essay "informed" a chunk of Kill Bill 2 script. Maybe. I don't know.

The whole thing seems aggressively awful to me, creepy and sad and fucked up.

Here's the comic, although I imagine that's an unwanted appropriation as well.
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink

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