Lately there's been a lot of Shia LaBeouf coverage in Geek circles, for reasons that do not include either Transformers or that Indiana Jones movie with the refrigerator. The reason: his surprise appearance at last weekend's C2E2, hawking copies of his self-made comics at Artist's Alley. A good portion of that coverage ranges from somewhat skeptical to outright MEAN, ripping apart his comics page-by-page and basically castigating him for ever having the "nerve" to want to make his own stuff.
Well I don't know of a better way to spread awareness and appreciation of our favorite artistic medium than to kick celebrities who dare enter that arena in the teeth, do you? Certainly, the sight of the (at least in Geek circles) controversial LaBeouf at a comic-con table is going to raise a few eyebrows. He's been attached to two movie franchises that have sparked a lot of heated fan debate, and worse...he's talking about expressing his deepest thoughts and feelings through comics! Horrors! "Leave our comics alone! Pick another form of personal self-expression, like, like ska or something! How dare this rich so-and-so pretend to be a real comic creator!"
Actually, what LaBeouf has done is no different than hundreds of other self-pub comic creators of various degrees of experience do at conventions all over the world. I've seen some self-made comics at these cons that are comparable to that of LaBeouf's...only they, not carrying the "stigma" of Celebrity, are often considered "avant-garde" instead of "weird" and "crappy." The actor is bashed for being an "elite" strolling onto sacred ground, but I find some of these criticisms quite elitist in their own right.
We're not going to like all the content we read...but to hate on someone for even the act of trying to create their own comics kinda sucks. I see panels and workshops encouraging beginners to make their own comics all the time. I thought that was an aspect of the craft that was always really awesome and super-inclusive. And it's not like he decided to go write a "very special issue" of Batman or Spider-Man and sort of use his fame to shoehorn that deal. LaBeouf wanted to create something new, and didn't ask for -- or expect -- special treatment. According to our interview with him, he was well aware of what level his work was currently at, and that he was opening himself up to potential criticism:
"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."
So anyway, critics have a total right to hate on Shia's comics if that's their prerogative. I just don't see what good it accomplishes, or how it makes our community look awesome.