Shia LaBeouf accused of plagiarizing artist Daniel Clowes, apologizes for not crediting him

By Daniel S Levine,

Shia LaBeouf’s short film HowardCantour.com hit the web on Monday afternoon, over a year after it was first shown at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Within hours of the Internet getting a chance to look at, he was accused of plagiarizing a cartoon by artist Daniel Clowes who was shocked to hear that the former Transformers star had copied his comic strip on film critics word for word. LaBeouf later apologized on Twitter, admitting, “I f**ked up.”

The short film starred comedian Jim Gaffigan as an online critic named Howard Cantour. The premise and script followed a comic Clowes published in 2007 called Justin M. Damiano.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Clowes confirmed that he never even spoke with LaBeouf or seen any of his movies. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work,” he told the site. “I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.”

LaBeouf’s script follows Clowes' comic word-for-word, including an opening narration. Although LaBeouf has admitted in the past that he is a Clowes fan, he said in interviews that the short film was like a response to critics who have slammed his work. “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,” he said in a Short of the Week interview.

Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics, Clowes’ publisher, told Wired that LaBeouf’s film instantly reminded him of Clowes’ work. “Which is why, when I actually started watching it, I almost spit out my coffee when I realized he lifted the script, word for word.”

Clowes did not get any credit and LaBeouf admitted in his Twitter apology that he should have. However, he insisted that Clowes was his “inspiration.” You can read his list of tweets below, which ended in a short message that read “I f**ked up.”

image: Getty Images/image.net


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