The News about Rob Granito Depresses Me

I know the news is old now, but this article finally bubbled its way up to the top of my queue. I'm sorry for the length, but this really irritates the crap out of me.

My Background with Rob Granito

At many of the conventions that I have gone to, I've run into Rob Granito. He's a comic artist, or so I thought.

I'm a fan of comic art in general. I prefer the art style of comics over other forms of art. I really liked a lot of Granito's work. In particular, one picture of the Joker seemed familiar, so I asked him what issue it was in. His responded that he was a "ghost artist" for other people, so he created the panels without knowing much about their destination. At first, I was skeptical; I had never heard of such a thing. I know of ghost writers, but not ghost artists. I figured that it was something most professional artists wouldn't admit to using, so I took it as an "underground" kind of profession. I spent hours talking with both him and author Patrick Thomas about the nature of their crafts. It turned a relatively small, dull convention into something memorable.

Granito - Joker
The Joker, "created by" Rob Granito

The only problem, then, would be the nature of ghost writing. When a ghost writer creates something for a client, the client has full copyright over the work. The ghost writer can sometimes tell others that he wrote it, such as when building a portfolio, unless the contract says otherwise. A pretty standard contract clause is that the ghost writer can't announce to the public that he created it, as that would defeat the purpose of hiring a ghost writer in the first place. However, he can't reproduce or otherwise do anything else with the work. He doesn't own it; he has no rights to distribute it. Why, then, can Rob Granito sell me prints of something that he "ghost drew?"

I should have questioned it more, but I really liked the Joker picture. So, I bought a print. "If you buy two, I'll throw in a third one for free," he said. Pretty soon, my living room was filled with Rob Granito's art.

All Granito Pictures
My wall of shame

I have run in to him afterwards, and I seemed to always have bought something from him. I usually mentioned that I'm a fan and I have bought from him before. He didn't really care; he just continued to push more prints on me. Now, normally when I talk to an artist, they are usually very friendly and appreciate their fans. For example, I still consider meeting The System creator, Rosscott, as my greatest highlight of New York Comic Con 2010. I assumed Granito was just a famous, jaded artist. To some bigger artists, conventions are just part of the job, although this is rare by my count. Then, I noticed something.

Every time I have seen Granito, he was standing around or pushing sales. I have never once seen him draw anything. Every artist, big-name or small-time, draws at his/her booth. It could just be sketches or concept ideas for themselves, quick sketches for fans, or new pieces they planned to sell in the future. Conventions are entire weekends that you have to sit in one spot without the possibility of doing anything else. That's prime drawing time. How is it that I've never seen Granito draw? Had I been that blind due to my overwhelming fanboyism?

Granito is a Plagiarist

After reading this article on Comic Alliance, I found out that, yes, I had been blind. Near the bottom of the article, The Flash writer Mark Waid and artist Ethan Van Sciver (various works, mostly Green Lantern) called out Granito during MegaCon in front of everyone. Waid's friend Dwayne McDuffie (writer for various works) had just died. Granito mentioned that McDuffie was a pleasure to work with. Waid retold what happened.

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.

I believe my exact endquote, two hours before the show closed, was, "Make your money here, because this is your last convention. Do you understand me? This is your last show." That's right, I was so pissed, I unilaterally appointed myself Sheriff of All Comicons. I should have a badge made.

I think my favorite moment was when this kid said to Ethan--after lying when asked if he'd actually claimed to have worked with Dwayne (a claim he ABSOLUTELY made)--"I just considered him a friend, same as I'd consider you a friend--" and Ethan growled "Let's make this clear: I am NOT YOUR FRIEND."

Dear Fraudboy: When you have comics' leading leftwing socialist hippiefreak AND comics' leading rightwing Nazi teaming up to smack you down, YOU HAVE F*CKED UP.

Granito has allegedly defended himself online by posting as other people in the industry, according to this article. He also claims that he didn't explain himself well. He didn't mean to claim to be a "ghost artist," just that he did "ghost layouts" according to this article. That's bullshit. I spent, literally, hours talking to the man. He never once tried to correct himself. It wasn't a crowded convention, either. This was a hundred or two people in a few rooms in a hotel. Most people were watching shows or bored. It wasn't chaotic at all. In the same article, it's clear that Granito knows he's screwed, but he's trying to weasel his way through it all.

Interviewer: You also told me "I've also done Stamps for The United States Post Office, for both Marvel and DC comics as well as FOX when I did the Simpsons and Canvin and Hobbs." We now know that rather than this, you did a cancellation stamp for one post office, not for Marvel, DC or Fox. And the colour image you sold of Calvin and Hobbes was printed from the original, with a little paint round the edges. Do you see how your statements and your actions have caused anger?

Granito: If anything I said caused anger, you know, I just apologize. I should think before I speak sometime! (laughter) But it's like, it is what it is. I'm an artist, I didn't know I'd be judged on every thing I said. I mean, innocent until proven guilty, I'm serious, that still means something to me, right? I did a cancellation stamp, so I didn't lie. I DID do a stamp, and it was a REAL one, so, to me, that works. Now I gotta worry that everything I say will be taken out of context. I mean, why? I'm a comic book artist! I'm not running for office or something.

I love "I'm an artist, I didn't know I'd be judged on every thing I said." He claimed the work of great artists as his own for years. It's not like he misspoke by accident. He's been basing his entire plagiarizing career around these statements. As for "innocent until proven guilty," this picture found here shows Ty Templeton's Joker and Rob Granito's. You tell me.

Joker - Templeton vs Granito
Templeton (left) vs Granito (right)

Granito's name is completely destroyed at this point. As of March 2011, there's a website dedicated to finding this kind of fraudulence. Nearly every post on Legit-o-mite is about Granito. I'd speculate that he's the real reason for site's existence.

Also, Granito is about to partner up with Josh Hoopes for a new project. That isn't a good career move with this kind of spotlight on him. Josh Hoopes is a well known scam artist in the industry, ruining everyone he associates with. Maybe Granito will get what's coming to him through Hoopes. Only time will tell.

As for the Joker Picture...

While researching for this article, I happened to finally remember why that picture of the Joker was so familiar to me.

Batman 451
Issue No. 451 of Batman

This is the first issue of Batman that I ever read. I remember how I got it, too. My family was at an indoor flea market, church sale, or something like that near Lancaster, PA. My parents let me pick out a few comics to read for the long car ride home. We took the 2.5 hour trip twice per week every summer (once each direction). At this point, my sister and I had become Gameboy Tetris masters from playing each other so much and were bored of it. I remember picking up this, ALF, and Sonic the Hedgehog. My eyes went wide at the thought that the Batman cartoon was now a comic! My age was still in the single digits; I didn't know any better.

When I was looking for a picture of the cover because I don't physically have the issue in my apartment, sure enough, I wasn't the only one who caught this.

Joker - Granito vs Brayfogle
Granito (left) vs Norm Breyfogle (right)

This brings up another point. I remember seeing Granito at Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con 2010. He had the bottom-left picture of Harley Quinn for sale again (naturally), but the floor and background were completely colored in. I remember because of how disappointed I was that I paid the same price for what I later realized was unfinished work. I don't have a photo of it from that convention in my albums, though.

So what do I do with all of my photocopies art? They used to make me happy and a bit proud. Now, they are just depressing. That's especially true of the Joker, which actually manages to tarnish a childhood memory. Hopefully, as Waid claims, I'll never see Granito at a convention ever again.