Shia LaBeouf accused of plagiarizing Daniel Clowes [Updated]

UPDATE 12/17/13 10:45 AM: CBR News reached HowardCantour.com star Jim Gaffigan's management for comment: "Jim was an actor for hire on this project and had no creative input. We were all as surprised by this news as everybody else."

UPDATE 11:05 PM: Shia LaBeouf has responded to reports via Twitter. Click here to read LeBouf's response.


Actor and occasional cartoonist Shia LaBeouf has released online a short film titled HowardCantour.com, which stars comedian Jim Gaffigan as a defensive Internet film critic. Nothing wrong with that, except, as BuzzFeed noticed, the film bears a striking resemblance to Justin M. Damiano, a 2007 comic by Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes.

As the website points out, the film and the comic open with the same narration: “A critic is a warrior, and each of us on the battlefield have the means to glorify or demolish (whether a film, a career, or an entire philosophy) by influencing perception in ways that if heartfelt and truthful, can have far-reaching repercussions.”

It goes on from there. According to BuzzFeed and Wired, the film copies or approximates Clowes' dialogue throughout, although LeBeouf – who, by the way, is on record as being a fan of Clowes' work – has been quoted as saying the film came about "organically."

Asked for comment, Clowes told BuzzFeed he was "shocked, to say the least," and that he couldn't "imagine what was going through his mind." For his part, LeBeouf has remained silent, although the film is now password-protected; it still can be viewed on BuzzFeed.

The film has been making the festival rounds for months, even screening for in May 2012 at Cannes, with at least one critic thinking it was a legitimate adaptation (hat tip to Joe McCulloch).

Shia LaBeouf has made an impressive directorial debut at #Cannes2012 with his short film http://t.co/UmLVYWez based on Daniel Clowes

— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) May 18, 2012

For what it's worth, this apparently isn't the first time LaBeouf has been accused of plagarism.

Updated 11:08 PM PDT: LaBeouf has taken to Twitter this evening, offering an explanation and an apology to Daniel Clowes. The full tweets follow:

Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.

— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013


In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation

— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013


Im embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration

— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013


I was truly moved by his piece of work & I knew that it would make a poignant & relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it.

— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013


I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work

— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013

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