The comics community is an accepting one–perhaps the most accepting. The greatest masters feel a kinship with someone who makes mini-comics, and will make time for them. It’s a giving, friendly group of people who share a passion for comics and a collegial sense of belonging.
But then there’s Rob Granito.
By now you have all heard the story of this “artist” who has been passing off others’ work as his own for years. But not just one or two people…EVERYONE. From Jan Duursema to…Bill Watterson.
Just check out a bit of his bio:
Rob Granito, internationally known artist and illustrator, has worked for over 15 years in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic art. His name has been attached to major projects for companies such as Warner Brothers, DC and Marvel Comics, Disney, MTV, and VH1, where he has worked on comics, graphic novels, trading cards, animation, as well as book, CD, magazine, and novel covers.
Rob’s recent work has been on “Iron Man 2” for Marvel, “Spider-man Archives” and “X-Men” for Upper Deck, “Marvel Masterpieces” for Ritten House, and the Playbill for the Broadway musical and posters for the 25th and the 27th Anniversary celebration of “A Christmas Story”.
Never being one to ride on past successes, Rob is currently hard at work on projects for Noel “Lois Lane” Neill, and Olympic snowboarding sensation Ross Powers, a CD project for music innovators Midnight Syndicate, the soon to be released USPS Comic Strip stamps, and a project for a few classic comic strip/cartoon.
That’s right, this man claims to have worked on A USPS POSTAGE STAMP. Featuring Calvin and Hobbes. But it was all swiped and traced — and clumsily at that. And no one he claims to have worked with even knew who he was…until now.
Since this story broke last week on Bleeding Cool, it’s taken on a life of its own as artist after artist has stepped forward to show how Granito ripped them off. There’s now a thriving Facebook community dedicated to showcasing his fraud which is so widespread and eclectic in his tastes that it beggars the imagination.
Also beggaring is his website, which includes the following in a FAQ:
Q. You worked on comic books?
A. Yes I have worked on several different books.
Q. How do you get it all done? The colors, the words, the covers….???
A. Well I don’t do every thing for a book. There are several people that work on a book there are artists that do Pencils, Inks, Colors, Cover artists, Letterers and of course the writers and the editors.
Q. WOW you DO ALL THAT??!!
A. No I usually just do one step depending on the book, I have done pencils, inks, colors and covers in the past on several different projects but there are still other people involved.
Q. O so you Didn’t CREATE Batman or WRITE THE BOOKS?
No, Virginia, he didn’t create Batman. But apparently there’s nothing else that he can’t do..or claim to do.
Frankly, reading this, it’s hard not to think the guy has a screw loose. And he probably didn’t even know how much fire he was playing with, to the point that he thought it was fine to show up at this week’s Megacon, where all heck broke loose. Confrontations were FILMED;
The story seems to have culminated when the Murtaugh and Riggs team of Mark Waid and Ethan van Scriver got together to ride him out of town on a rail, as Waid put it:
Don’t give me too much credit for the co-smackdown, folks. It’s just that when I heard that he’d tried to capitalize off Dwayne’s death, that was the last straw for me. I saw red and stormed over with Ethan. We were both livid. I told Fraudboy in no uncertain terms that I will personally contact every convention there is and warn them… not to give him a table if they ever want to see me or MY friends there, EVER. I also screamed at him when he said “Well, truthfully–” that he is not allowed to use that word, ever, ever. That word means nothing coming from him.
Waid’s tweet summed up the uniting power of comics:
Hey Granito: When you get comics’ loudest leftwing hippiefreak AND loudest rightwing Nazi to join forces on your ass, YOU HAVE FUCKED UP.
In other words, faced with a fox in the henhouse, it doesn’t matter who you voted for, comics will be protected. People like Colleen Doran turned into Lisbeth Salander, taking screenshots of Granito’s now-removed Facebook page, and finding gems like the claim he worked with Dwayne McDuffie — the claim which seems to have set off the most punitive measures.
She even — god knows how — found what appears to be an actual non-swiped Granito:
Until now, Granito made a living going to shows and selling “his” art. But thanks to Bleeding Cool and the righteous mob, that has been stopped. He’s been removed from Chiller, Wizard and other shows. Granito’d is now a verb.
How did it happen? A lot has to do with the trusting nature of the comics world. And now that the rage is subsiding a bit — Grantico was STEALING money from people by selling his crap knock-offs of people who actually do make a living at this — the analyses have begun.
Jim McQuarrie looks at the psychology:
Which brings us to the next point: evil people don’t think they are evil. People have an enormous capacity to rationalize anything; even Hitler could make himself the hero of his own story. Rob Granito honestly thinks he’s an artist; he deserves the applause and money due him because he is an artist. If he takes a few shortcuts and fudges a few details, who cares? Part of this is Kruger-Dunning Effect, the phenomenon whereby incompetent people can’t tell they’re incompetent, because the skills needed for assessing competence are the same ones needed in order to be competent. Rob thinks he’s an artist because he honestly can’t see the difference between his own drawings and the ones he traced. He lacks the ability to assess what makes a drawing good or bad, and assumes the traced ones sell better only because people are familiar with them, so he simply claims to have been the “ghost” artist who “really drew them.”
Leonard Kirk — who was among the ripped off suggests that we may be making TOO much of this:
In all honesty, I really don’t want to know his story. I’ll admit, I’m a little curious about his fraudulent beginnings with that very first swiped image that he sold to some poor schmuck for twenty bucks. However, I don’t want his full story to come out. I don’t want to know about his life outside of the fraud. I don’t want to know about his wife or his kids or his childhood or his schooling or the bully who took his lunch money or his first legit-o-mite job. I don’t want to know any of that because such knowledge will begin to humanize him. Not that he isn’t a human being with feelings and loved ones. I’m just saying that it will lead to people coming up with stuff like, “Oh, look. The poor guy had it rough.” or “It’s been his lifelong dream to get into the business.” or “Can you blame him, considering how his parents treated him??” or some shit like that. Hell, I’ve already seen people post comments about how they feel sorry for the guy.
I don’t want this asshole’s story to turn into.… well…. A REAL STORY. I don’t want this transformed into some human interest piece of fluff like the crap you see on Oprah. Do you remember the movie, Catch Me If You Can? It was a story about a guy who pretended to be an airline pilot in order to cash forged checks and make a shitload of money. It was a movie about a con man. It was a movie about a thief. It was a good movie. I liked it. But one of the things that made it a good movie was the fact that the thief, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, became a person. He was a person all along, of course. But the film made us feel for the character and even empathize with him. I am willing to forgive this because the thief redeemed himself. The film was based on a real story, in which the real thief turned his life around and used his knowledge of fraud to aid the authorities in catching other crooks.
If Granito had a little more savvy, we might see a turnaround redemption — an interview with CBR, a tearful tell-all with Piers Morgan. Next thing you know, he’s on Celebrity Apprentice with Rod Blagojevich.
I’m exaggerating a little. But we all love a tearful confession. Now that he’s been quite rightly held up to the greatest scorn and shunning that our industry is capable of, don’t let him crawl back. Keep him out in the cornfield. Even an industry as open and forgiving as comics needs an outcast. With his habitual, ongoing and clueless fraud, Rob Granito has earned his place as that outcast.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.