Comic books are a lot of hard work. For new and lapsed readers, just catching up on years’ worth of stories for the Marvel and DC superhero books will take you longer than reading every single issue of the New 52 published at this point. Which, I guess, was sort of DC’s point with the whole initiative. But making comic books is even harder, especially since very few people actually make a decent living doing so. Any creator with a publisher already has a leg up, because dealing with printing, distribution, and marketing is arguably a more complex and shady effort than putting pencil and inks to paper. Technology has certainly made it easier to self-publish comics, but unless you’re already famous — for doing anything, really, not just comics and talent is of no consequence — it’s a long, hard road to slog before even a single person reads your witty words and admires your pretty pictures. It’s even more difficult when your passion is your second, volunteer job.
I speak from experience, but this isn’t a woe is me post. I merely wanted to delineate why, for the remainder of this post, I will be presenting sans comment some images from Shia LeBeouf’s brand new, creator-owned comics that he recently began selling at the C2E2 convention in Chicago. Yes, you read that right. The rich, successful Hollywood thespian who has been in such modern cinema classics as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Eagle Eye is now in the business of making his own “comic books.” I don’t feel entirely comfortable commenting on the work of a fellow self-publishing comic maker, especially knowing full-well my own work isn’t yet close to greatness, much less the low bar of fairly decent, fairly regularly. That said, The Beef’s work, and his thoughts behind that work (which are actually sweet even amidst the vulgarity), demand to be shared.
“I could meet Brian K. Vaughan at a Y The Last Man meeting, or I could just meet Brian K. Vaughan at his table, picking up stickers. Sometimes that’s cool. For me at least. I had opportunities to be on the big stage, or in the big panel… I’m not there yet. I should be with the dudes who I’m with, and maybe not even there. I’m lucky to be in the Artists Alley, I appreciate being there, and I appreciate people coming and looking at the books. It’s been a really cool opportunity for me.”
“I think the big difference between me and most guys who come into comics from the world that I come from, they’re looking for a way to extend their career. The fans don’t accept them anymore, and they want to get that comic book cool rub, so they can extend their acting career.”
“Comics sometimes are fun when they’re like classical music. The fun thing about classical music is, sometimes you don’t know where you stand, or where the sound is going next. It keeps you interested. If you change topics like a classic song, your book will reflect that same kind of fun.”
“It’s not a poem to say, “Hey I used to shit on myself until I was twelve years old.” That isn’t a poem! But sandwiched between a bunch of other poems, that actually have meaning, and do have gravitas, and come from somewhere deep in my feelings - my psyche.”
“Everyone’s been really respectful. This is a crowd that I think would hate me. For Indiana Jones, for Transformers, and some of the flack those movies have gotten. Though I love those movies, and worked hard on those movies, and everybody worked hard on those movies. I think the way those films were received was not necessarily positive. Especially by this crowd. So to come in here, and be in the center of this crowd and feel love, and nobody’s shitting on me, nobody is throwing shit at me… It’s kind of cool. It’s something that I don’t know if I expected or not, but I came here waiting for bullets. The reception is… Much nicer than I expected.”
“I came up with this story called “Cyclical,” which is a nihilist Easy Rider comic… That’s where it started, and… I don’t know, man, there’s something kind of beautiful for a guy coming out of these big, big films that I make; you make art with fifty people. You get away from that, you make a music video, you’re making art with twenty people. When you can sing alone in the shower, there’s something f**king beautiful about that, and what I like about doing this is… I don’t get micromanaged.”
” I came out here with my girl to set up a lemonade stand because it’s fun. It’s an adventure. My girl loves it, and I love it, and it’s fun thing for both of us to come - she’s never been to Chicago. But the guy who comes up to me with the Batman gear, and he’s like super-dude here, he’s a king here… He comes up to me and to show me love in even the most minimal way, “Not all your shit is cool, but I think you’re cool,” I thought was very cool.”
“I love Charles Bronson… And I f**king love motorcycles. [Laughs] You look at most Charles Bronson movies, it’s thematically where I took cyclical. It’s more nihilist, my version, the ending. Also… I’m not very spiritual, but it’s as spiritual as I get.”
The art certainly has a certain charm to it, but it is what it is. Whether LaBeouf’s venture into comics is worthwhile or not will depend entirely on the writing, and so far he definitely evokes a The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish kind of vibe. But very few people are Neil Gaiman. In fact, I’m pretty sure there can be only one.
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He wishes Shia nothing but the best of luck.