As you may have noticed, I've advanced the timeline of the story by four months. If you remember, it was January when this whole thing started. People were wearing coats! Time to bring everything up to speed.
What happened in those missing 4 months? Not much. Jimmy and Charlie went on a few dates. Tom and Cami caught up on Mad Men using Netflix streaming. I think Truman found a bone, or something? Trust me, you didn't miss much.
I knew I had to advance the timeline to accommodate the inevitable comics I'll be doing about The Avengers. But there was an ancillary experience I had at C2E2 in Chicago a couple of weeks ago that inspired today's comic and, well... here's the story.
So, after driving all morning, I pulled into the McCormick Center pretty much right as the doors were opening to the public at 1:00 PM. That made load-in a little stressful, but I got set up fairly quickly.
After getting settled, meeting a few fans and drawing a few sketches, word started getting back to me that no other than Shia LaBeouf was at the convention!
This isn't a huge deal. Celebrities come to conventions all the time. He was probably speaking on a panel or something, right?
WRONG. He's was in Artist Alley. Apparently he was there to promote a comic that he had worked on.
Everyone I talked to about Shia's appearance that afternoon had the same initial reaction that I did. "Bullsh*t!" So I scoured Twitter for confirmation and specifics.
It didn't take long before people confirmed that Shia was in attendance. Several people had tweeted photos they had taken with him. An opportunity had presented itself. I had to go meet him. But where WAS he?
Eventually I learned that he was in Artist Alley, table O22.
For some perspective, I was at table O2.
You know that scene from When A Stranger Calls when the police office tells the babysitter "The calls are coming from inside the house!" Yeah. It felt like that.
So I knew it was now or never. I had to get a picture with the guy. Readers of this comic know my feelings about Shia LaBeouf, if I punk out now, I'd never live it down. So I start walking down the aisle.
As I approach the end of the aisle, I see a huge line near the tables. I immediately assume it was for Shia, but quickly realize that George Pérez was at the table right next to him doing commissioned sketches and the line was for him.
And if you don't know who George Pérez is, then I strongly recommend you read more comics.
Anyway, no one was in line to see Shia, so I walked right up to him to say hello.
"Hi, there," I said. "I don't mean to bother you, but I was wondering if I could get a quick picture with you?"
LaBeouf was more than gracious. "Sure!" he said. As I leaned back over the table to get in the shot with him, he put out his hand and said "Bring it in here," to go for the bro shake. And that's why I look a little more awkward than usual in this photo...
I know it's a little blurry and I know that Shia's face is obscured a little bit by his hat a little bit, but that's him.
It was over pretty quickly. I thanked him for his time, shook his hand and told him to have a good show. In retrospect, I probably should have bought one of his books, but I seriously didn't have a game plan before walking up to the guy. I knew if I thought about it for too long, I'd lose my nerve. So I swooped in there to get my photo trophy and swooped out.
Back at my table, panic started to settle in a little bit because I realized that my banner was promoting some mild anti-Shia sentiment on it...
I wouldn't have thought twice about it except that he was in the SAME ROW that I was. What if he walked by it and saw it? What if he approached me about it and commented on it. He's punched people for less, you know!
I tweeted my concerns about the banner and several of my follower suggested that I take it down to him and have him sign it.
While I can't deny that would have been unbelievably cool, I couldn't envision a scenario where I could approach the guy and NOT come off like a complete jerk.
"Excuse me, Mr. LaBeouf? Yeah, I just got my picture taken with you - No, I didn't buy one of your comics - and I'm exhibiting just up the aisle from you a little way. I was wondering if you would sign my banner? Y'see, my comic is about movies and I regularly make comics about how much I think you suck. Oh! You drew a penis on my main character's forehead! Ha, ha, ha! Delightful! Thank you very much for your time, Mr. LaBeouf."
So, no. I didn't get Shia LaBeouf to sign my banner. I thought it best to let sleeping dogs lie.
For the rest of the weekend, people kept talking to me about Shia LaBeouf. Often I would take out my phone and show them the picture I took with him. Incidentally, I heard from someone who was standing in line to speak with him a story about another con-goer that asked him to draw a sketch of Megan Fox naked. LaBeouf gave him a dirty look and slapped together a quick stick figure before telling him to take off. I actually thought that was kind of cool.
I guess he was only there on Friday and didn't come back Saturday or Sunday. But, honestly, could you expect him to?
So... what do we do with this experience?
I've taken lots of shots at LaBeouf over the years. Mostly it was for fun. After I decided Jared didn't hate Ben Affleck anymore, the comic needed a new straw man and LaBeouf was an easy target.
Did I ever truly hate LaBeouf? No, I can't say that I ever gave him that much thought. But a lot of other people really seemed to hate him and I felt like I kind of taped into that. But - and here's what everyone gets wrong - it's not how I really felt about the guy. I took my moderate dislike of him as an actor and amplified it for the sake of the comic. After that, it became it's own thing. Was it exploitative? Sure. Do I regret it? Well, yeah. I do.
It's easy to forget that these actors are people. We build them up and we tear them down. We do it because it's fun. I'm guilty of it and I've also been victim to it. It's just how things are.
But I have to give LaBeouf credit for showing up to promote his comic on Artist Alley the way he did. He didn't use his celebrity to pull strings or get preferential treatment. He met with fans, put in the time and promoted his book just like anyone else. I can't fault him for that.
Are his comics any good? Critical consensus says "No." But I don't think that accounts for much. Have you ever been to an Artist Alley at a large comic book convention? It's just like anything else. You'll see some amazing stuff and you'll see some real crap. Shia's comics maybe aren't my cuppa tea, but I've seen worse. MUCH worse. And those guys NEVER get reviewed. So let's keep it in perspective.
As for Theater Hopper... well you saw how that played out in the comic.
Everything about this last arc is about evolving the characters - even if it's only by a fraction - so that when it's all said and done, you know that everyone is "okay."
It didn't seem fair to me to advance Charlie and Jimmy's relationship or put Tom and Cami on the path to parenthood without giving Jared the opportunity to grow a little as well.
Even if "Movie Jumpers" looks totally lame.
Anyway, that's where we are today and that's my Shia LaBeouf story. I seriously can't believe I'm leaving comics behind. Because I sure as hell wouldn't have a story like that to tell without 'em.
Keep checking the site. I've got Avengers comics comic up soon...
...and the return of CARDBOARD IRON MAN.
Why the mope?
I'm having an existential crisis.
I read an article about Shia LaBeouf showcasing comics he created on Artist's Alley at C2E2 in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.
I don't think I hate him anymore.
But this is the guy who ruined Indiana Jones!
This is the guy who ruined Transformers!
This is the guy who ruined Wall Street 2!
WALL STREET 2!
Yeah, but I can't hate a guy who exhibits at a comic book convention without trading in on his celebrity.
ESPECIALLY WHEN i MAKE COMICS OF MY OWN!
Dude, I'm sorry. But this looks AWFUL!