Written by Shia LaBeouf
Art by Shia LaBeouf
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Shia LaBeouf has joined the likes of Gerald Way, Rashida Jones, and even his Transformers co-star Tyrese Gibson as the latest celebrity to add “comic book creator” to his resume. But, unlike his Hollywood brethren, LaBeouf is entering the world of comics at the bottom.
Seriously, THE bottom. There is no major company reaching out to help him. No ghost writer. No professional artist. No editor even. This is Shia LaBeouf at the ground floor, making exactly the comics that he wants you to read. And that’s awesome.
I know there are a lot of haters out there, but let’s not pretend, internet. Even if you’re not a fan of the Transformers movies, and even if you don’t believe Indy could have survived in that fridge, Shia LaBeouf is a top of the line movie star. The man’s films have a collective worldwide gross of just under FIVE BILLION dollars. With that kind of attention the big comic book companies would be chomping at the bit to put his name on the cover of one of their properties. Hell, even Chad Michael Murray got Archaia to put out one of his old screenplays.
If you want to work in comics, and you’ve done any research on how to break in at all, then you’ve surely heard that the best way to get a job creating comic books is to CREATE comic books. Take PoP!’s favorite horror anthologist, Mr. Dirk Manning, as an example. The man built his comic book career by putting out free short comic stories on the web at a time when web based comics were sneered at. Now? I’ve got three of his Nightmare World trades – pulished by Image Comics – on my bookshelf. Making comics, building an audience, and showing that you can create the type of work that gets attention are the key steps to breaking in as a comic creator. I greatly respect that, with all the shortcuts available to him, Shia LaBeouf is quietly working to make a name for himself the old-fashioned way.
With that in mind, let’s get to the book itself. I immediately called dibs on Cyclical when we were divvying up LaBeouf’s comics for review. Where Let’s Fucking Party is a collection of poetry, and perhaps a bit “out there” for some readers, Cyclical is a more straightforward fiction tale. Written and drawn by LaBeouf, Cyclical tells the story of one day in the life of Dave Raven, member of the Aces & Eight motorcycle club. We join Raven as he’s riding along with clubmate Santavo. They soon come across a gorge that Raven intends to jump – tomorrow. Parting ways for the night, Raven meets up with a lady friend, shoots an arrow through the moon, and prepares for the life threatening jump in the morning.
I don’t want to get too deep into the story told here for risk of spoiling the ending for you, though I will say this – told entirely in splash pages, I found myself the pace of my page turning increasing the closer I came to the end of the story. While the first half of the story works to layout the scene and the various characters, the pacing accelerates in the second half as Raven’s stunt unfolds.
As the pacing increases, you’ll also find that you’ve grown accustomed to the art, which definitely takes some getting used to. I don’t mean that as a criticism. This art is raw, for sure, but does an effective job belaying LaBeouf’s vision of the scene. However, readers looking for the clean lines and panel by panel storytelling that they would find in the latest issue of Deadpool will certainly be disappointed. That said, that also sums up my overall viewpoint on this offering from LaBeouf. Readers coming into this with an open mind may find themselves surprised. Readers coming into this expecting the same type of recycled offerings that you can find at all the major companies will not care for this.
There are certainly areas that could use improvement. Both LaBeouf’s writing and art are still very raw, and without the support of a publisher blemishes like typos do make it through to print. But I don’t want to take away from what this is. This is a comic book outsider, unbound by the rules of the norm, telling his story the way he wants to tell it. This is a budding creator using any and all tools at his disposal to tell his story. This is about as grassroots as it gets. For that, I give Cyclical 3.5 out of 5 Raven Eggs.