LaBeouf-Gate—in which an A-list young actor continues to dig himself deeper and deeper after cluelessly ripping off a Daniel Clowes comic as the basis for a short films because SQUIRREL!—has been developing on several fronts.

The Wrap spoke to some people close to LaBeouf which suggested that Daniel Clowes is weighing his legal options, even as Camp LaBeouf is possibly trying to work up a settlement offer.

LaBeouf’s overture may include a monetary settlement of some kind, though how much wasn’t immediately clear, as the film wasn’t meant to be a profitable enterprise. But a deal would almost surely include proper credit in the film’s credits, which previously made no mention of Clowes’ source material.

Fantagraphics associated publisher Eric Reynolds has been the public face of baffled outrage, telling Comics Alliance:

It was just a truly baffling move on LaBeouf’s part. I’ve seen people write that the only explanation to this is that LaBeouf must have believed he owned the rights to “Justin M. Damiano,” but not only did he not own the rights, he never even inquired about them, as far as I know. Besides, if he honestly believed that he legally owned the rights, whether he actually did or not, he would have properly credited the source material. He didn’t, and that fact is disturbing.
But the fact that he also apparently didn’t think he’d get busted submitting this to film festivals and making it available online in an effort to grease his own reputation is disturbing on an entirely different level, because it makes me wonder how he might have rationalized it himself. He’s gone on the record as a fan of Clowes, but this film is an alarmingly thoughtless way of showing it.

But there’s more and more developing. When LaBeouf broke in to the comics scene in 2012 as an indie cartoonist set up in Artist Alley at C2E2, most observers couldn’t help but be charmed by his seeming enthusiasm and sincerity, even as his weird, self-printed comics were labeled more “outsider art.” In other words, he got a pass. Now, however, a little googling has revealed that most of those comics are also plagiarized from folks like Bukowski and a little known French language comic.

LaBeouf is the creator of several niche comic books, which share themes, stories, and even direct language with writers that he never credited. In his book Let’s Fucking Party, LaBeouf borrows heavily from Bukowski. Where LaBeouf writes, “Poets bore me, they are shits. Snails. Snippets of dust in a cheap wind,” he is taking the quote directly from Bukowski’s poem “More Argument,” which can be read here.
As first noticed by comic writer Josh Farkas, who relayed his findings to BuzzFeed, LaBeouf also cobbled together lines from Bukowski’s poem “assault” for his self-published Let’s Fucking Party from April 2012. LaBeouf, who has spoken of his admiration for the late Bukowski, wrote:

You can see the comparisons at Buzzfeed, above and here.

And there’s still more. Albert Ching reminds us of a comic that was to be published at Boom!, now seemingly in limbo.

With LaBeouf’s propensity for plagiarism now as firmly entrenched as Seth Rogen’s liking a little puff now and then, he’s launching a charm campaign on Twitter. Following the discovery that LaBeouf’s original apology was lifted from Yahoo!, the actor has been on a ironic apology tour this morning, with regrets inspired by Tiger Woods, Robert McNamara and Kanya Woods — surely the holy trinity of contrition.

All is not bad new for LaBeouf: his role in the new Lars Von Trier film, Nymphomania has been getting notice for its explicit sex and nudity, including a genuine LaBeouf boner. And he’e currently filming Fury, a rousing WWII actioner co-starring Brad Pitt, because nothing stops controversy like fighting Nazis.

Finally, on a personal note, I’ve learned how to spell LaBeouf.


  1. Taking legal action against LeBeouf beyond a simple cease-and-desist or for a credit in the film is likely a waste of time. If he’s only showing this short film off at film festivals and putting it online for free then there’s no money to sue over.

    It would also be hard to sue for personal damages since LeBeouf is a much bigger name than Clowes and it can be argued this whole thing has actually increased Clowes’ profile and the sales of his work.

  2. The whole point of licensing is not just compensation but artistic control. the two pre-existing films made from Clowes’ work were close collaborations with his friend, Terry Zwigoff. He was not consulted for LeBeouf’s film in any way, and would more than likely not have given him permission to adapt the story if he had been given the choice. LeBeouf did not give him this choice.

    Clowes has had many opportunities to pursue fame. He’s been invited to appear on national talk shows, but has refused these offers, and declines most interviews. Saying that he benefits from LeBeouf’s fame suggest that fame is something that Clowes values over the integrity of his work, and that’s just not the case.

    Then there’s LeBeouf implication that he was the author of the work. It could have been a fan film, but that’s not how LeBeouf presented it. It was only when LeBeouf was caught, that he revealed the truth. He presented the film as his own original work at the biggest film festival in the world. He received acclaim for work he did not do. He was found out, but the damage has largely been done. Credit on a film that Clowes had nothing to do with and did not approve doesn’t reverse this. A credit on the film implies that Clowes in some way takes responsibility for its content, and only gives further credibility to the project.

    For as long as Clowes is able to maintain legal control over his work, that control should be respected, and LeBeouf should get more than a slap on the wrist. Otherwise, what’s to prevent someone else from doing the same thing? The film needs to be killed. Clowes needs to be compensated.

  3. Johnny Memeonic –

    You’re overlooking the likely fact that Clowes’ work is the subject of a copyright registration in the United States, which would give him a solid basis to sue for copyright infringement AND seek statutory damages of up to $150,000 and also recoup his attorney’s fees. I’m a lawyer and I right now fervently wish that Clowes was my client. I’d be going after McBeef hard.

  4. Johnny, Clowes is a recognized cultural figure and the UNAUTHORIZED use of his work being passed off as another’s—the short was already shown at Cannes for instance—would result in a hefty damages fee. As BMAC pointed out above, this is a slam dunk for a good lawyer.

  5. Wow. Is it ironic to say that the star of Holes has been digging himself deeper and deeper?

    You know, that pseudo-irony, like that line from that song Shia wrote, about ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife and rain on your weddi…
    wait a minute…

  6. Here’s another example of him plagiarizing .

    This LaBeouf quote — “”I know something about the gulf between critical acclaim and blockbuster business. I have been crushed by critics (especially during my Transformers run), and in trying to come to terms with my feelings about critics, I needed to understand them. As I tried to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at me and the people I’ve worked with, a small script developed.”

    is reworded from this article by Kyle Buchanan in 2012

    “LaBeouf would know something about the gulf between critical acclaim and blockbuster business — he’s made three Transformers movies, after all. But his short isn’t an attempt to slag on critics, not really: Instead, he tries to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at the actor.”

  7. If this is a violation of a registered copyright, it is worth $250k. It doesn’t need to be a violation with an intent to profit. Registered copyrights carry statutory damages.

  8. Years ago some folks on this board were beating up on LaBeouf, who was then taking tables at comic cons, incognito, in artist alley — and I seem to recall that I felt LaBeouf was beating treated unfairly — and I wrote some words to that effect.

    I hereby spiritually and metaphysically redact my posts.

  9. I suspect that his plagiarized apology in his mind was some sort of performance art piece. Even more proof that he’s an idiot.

    The need to sue him into the stone age is about the principle of ownership of creative work. It needs to be very clear that regardless of who you are (or think you are) stealing doesn’t work.

  10. If I could make a request to Mr. Clowes:

    Instead of a monetary settlement, please pursue a cease-and-desist order that would ban Shia from making any movies for the next 20 to 30 years.

  11. I think I once did something like this; I started making a short film out of one of the stories I’d read in a Warren horror mag– I didn’t think about crediting the person who wrote the magazine material at all– just went and did it.

    I think I was about 12 years old.

  12. This illustrates a lesson I shared with my daughter. The worst thing about dumb people is that they don’t know they are dumb. They think they’re clever and everyone around them is as oblivious as they are.

    “I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.”

    He’s now plagiarizing an apology from Tiger Woods.
    No way someone is this stupid.
    This has got to be some half assed attempt at some failed Andy Kaufman-esque ruse. Is he trying to be the a new bearded Joaquin Phoenix act? Or is the kid having an actual mental breakdown?

  14. He’s now plagiarizing apology from Tiger Woods .. & McNamara

    Lord help me : starting to like the guy again.

  15. @The Xenos, just a note, Robert McNamara wasn’t a general. He was Secretary of Defense (1961-1968) and while he served in the Air Force (1943-1946) he entered as a Captain and left as a Lieutenant Colonel.

  16. Hey Johnny Moronic. If Labouf had physically beat and raped Clowes, should he have been greatful that Shia upped his public profile?

    Thank you rich and powerful celebrity for implanting me with some of your essence! We normal people have so little in life that any brush with a pampered elitist is to be applauded.

  17. @jonboy
    We don’t need to ban him from all movies, just ban him from the Indiana Jones franchise. I can choose to not see crappy transformers movies, and whatever other crap that he’s in, but I’m going to watch Indiana Jones, even if I have to cringe every time this douche opens his mouth.

  18. His fake-plagiarizing bad celeb apologies is well thought out, probably by his publicist. I have to believe he ripped off the obscure yahoo quote first, then started this stuff as a cover-up. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise, not to mention how he tried to obfuscate the original yahoo quote by cutting out a few words to make it shorter (possibly to fit into a tweet?).

    (sorry for the double post)

  19. Shia LaBeouf was bothered by what critics said about his performance in the Transformers movies? He’s the one who took the money to appear in a film (especially the first one) where the script and the director had him play a character who was little more than a screaming meemie for the entire movie. He was reactive instead of proactive for the whole film. In spite of how much money the film made, I know people who had a low opinion of him as an actor after seeing him in that film and weren’t at all happy to hear that was was going to be in the fourth Indy film.

  20. The real problem for an artist such as Mr. Clowe is that he is being cheapened by involuntary association with repellant crap. This happens more often to artists than the public imagines … you can have your “brand” wrecked by being associated with the wrong collaborator, publisher or agent.

    It takes years of work to establish a reputation and believe me, there are plenty of sleazy hustlers out there trying to piggyback on your hard-won reputation and work. Some of them do it deliberately as a crude type of extortion.

    Mr. Clowe fully deserves and will certainly receive compensatory damages.

  21. i wish LeBeouf would swipe some of my 80’s X-Men stories. they are legit and could use the bump in publicity.

  22. Whar with LeBeouf’s propensity for trawling pop culture I am surprised he didn’t come across this nugget of wisdom from the Smith’s Cemetery Gates!
    If you must write prose/poems
    The words you use should be your own
    Don’t plagiarise or take “on loan”
    ‘Cause there’s always someone, somewhere
    With a big nose, who knows
    And who trips you up and laughs
    When you fall…
    Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group.

  23. Perhaps LaBeouf is actually a true artist and a visionary .. his canvas: what other people presently assume to be their copyrights.

    The artist / visionary LaBeouf is enlightening us to a world that is likely only a few years away.. when everybody and anybody will take anything they want from whatever they want and do as they like with it – but it will be commonly understood by any and all that only the rich and connected are allowed to benefit from doing anything.

  24. Perhaps that day indeed is coming, Horatio. But until it does, and before it does, I say Clowes should sue, sue, sue.

  25. I say Clowes should sue, sue, sue.
    Otherwise: Clowes (organizizes) an new story/character called Shia LaBeouf.

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