Editorial: What The Rob Granito Scandal Tells Us

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As everyone has probably already heard (just scroll down the page), Rob Granito is a plagiarizing conman. He claimed to have done work for DC and Marvel, been the secret hand behind Brian Stelfreeze and, hilariously, to have worked on Calvin and Hobbes, and sold direct copies of other people’s work with a few scribbles on top for hundreds of dollars. Not the usual pose tracing for a different use or character, but direct copies, with perhaps an arm moved slightly. And he did it for years.

 Artists known to have been plagiarized includes Jan Duursema, Tim Sale, Bruce Timm, Mark Bagley and Ivan Reis among others. As a response to this, the website Legit-o-mite.com has been started as a clearinghouse for evidence of direct plagiarism and fraud like this, on the part of Granito or any other artist.

 There are many, many conmen in the world and one more shouldn’t be a surprise, but on some level, he is. The reason artists and fans feel such a deep level of anger and betrayal over his actions is the very same reason he was able to operate for so long – in many ways, the comics industry and fandom is genuinely a community, one that has built up a certain level of trust and goodwill. Yes, there’s a certain amount of static between publishers and creators, between creators and fans, between fans and… well, everyone, but at the heart of it, when you walk down artist’s alley, there’s a feeling that we’re all in it together. That if someone has a booth and tells you he’s an artist, he’s a fellow and a brother, a member of the club, even if he has fudged his resume a little or traced a pose or two. A genuine, verified plagiarist and blatant fraud, one who ripped off thousands of dollars from fans and by extension the original artists over the course of his career, is a punch in the gut.

Granito Editorial: What The Rob Granito Scandal Tells Us
Let me tell you about my new play, it’s called Hamlet

 

 And Granito’s career has proven that fans and creators aren’t the only ones to take things on trust – surprisingly, comic book conventions have a similarly rosy view of humanity. An official announced and advertised guest at Wizard World Austin, Miami,  Toronto and New Orleans, not to mention MegaCon 2011, as well as such smaller cons as Animation Supercon 2009, Intervention 2010, Florida Comic Con 2007, one can only assume that no one bothered to google any of the projects he claimed to have worked on. His Wizard World convention bio – now taken down, but here for your viewing pleasure thanks to Google Cache – claims “his most recent projects is Calvin & Hobbes” and that he “is currently working on a Batman story arch” [sic]. How did someone so blatant and downright incompetent slip through the cracks?

Although his plagiarism had been caught by individual fans and artists as early as 2006, the word didn’t spread. The comics world is notably lacking in organized defenses against people like Granito. If they don’t catch the eye of an angry publisher – and he wouldn’t, he never published anything, he simply sold “original” art – a lawsuit is never going to happen, few comics creators or cons could afford it. The only way to get him or people like him was what eventually happened, to call them out, to name and shame. If you think you’ve caught a fraud, don’t just tell your closest friends, don’t be too polite to name names, don’t think that nobody cares. Find proof, tell the comic cons, tell the artists, spread the word as far and fast as you can. Don’t let the next person get hurt the same way. It may be frontier justice, but it’s the only justice we have.

Comments

  1. B. Clay Moore says:

    I think Rob Granito has been effectively taken care of by now.

    Frankly, the continued piling-on, lame fake Twitter accounts, T-shirts, fake righteous indignation, and calls for his head on a pike are almost more disturbing than his original crimes.

  2. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    B. Clay Moore, that’s why this piece is about why people are so into the story and how to nip the next Granito in the bud.

  3. Amazing that this guy wasn’t outed sooner! Now I guess we’ll find him drawing caricatures at the local State Fair. He must wonder what he could have been if he was honest from the beginning. Maybe nobody but he’d be a nobody with pride and dignity. BTW Great article!

  4. I’d like to see an interview with the guy. Morbid curiosity I guess. Not that I’d support any effort on his part to damage-control this thing, but I’d like to know what set him on this path.

  5. Very nice analysis, Kate. (And I love the caption under the screen grab!) You’re absolutely right, the familial feeling amongst Team Comics (as Heidi calls it) probably does contribute quite a bit to giving folks the benefit of the doubt. Thank goodness the internet facilitates the swift outing of such charlatans. (Shout-out to Richie J – ya done good!)

  6. I also think the organizers of conventions need to do better background checks on the people who buy tables there selling art claiming credits they don’t have.

  7. It was refreshing to see such a quick resolution, and a group concensus on wrongdoing, after the mess of the last big comics infringement debacle w/an obvious target. Glad to see no one defending or justifying Granito’s actions after the defenses for the HTMLComics guy in some corners

  8. Matthew Southworth says:

    Re: B Clay Moore’s post:

    I agree 100%. There’s some weird rage going on around here.

  9. Mikael says:

    So Greg Land next right?

  10. Greg Land should be brought up, or does he not matter because he’s stealing from outside the comic world?

  11. Mikael says:
  12. Teresa says:

    It’s not just art that’s swiped…I know a couple of published comics historians who have been ripped off repeatedly and yet it still goes on, even when the guilty party(s) is confronted (as well as the guilty party’s publisher(s). What’s sad is it costs too dang much to bring a law suit. In some cases, cease and desist letters work.

    BTW, I am surprised that someone hasn’t “narked” Granito to the respective publishers/owners of the characters themselves (Marvel, DC, et al). I’m sure a nice letter from their legal departments might quiet him a bit.

  13. Calvin And Hobbes on Granito’s resume?
    Maybe he’s the one that did those stickers of Calvin peeing on automaker’s logos.

  14. Snikt Snakt says:

    Maybe all the vile/nerd rage this guy is getting will make the next person who considers doing something like this, think twice…

  15. Mauricio Fleury says:

    KATE FITZSIMONS,

    Great editorial. What else can I say? However, I disagree with one thing: “a lawsuit is never going to happen, few comics creators or cons could afford it”. Since he said “I drew the cancellation stamp for the Batman and Calvin and Hobbes stamp!” and somehow forged it, it constitutes a Federal offense and he may be prosecuted by the US Government, since postal service is a Federal bench of the Government. Regarding people he conned by selling other people’s drawing as his own, it also constitutes a felony and he can also be prosecuted by that. Does he deserves that? Who am I to say? He’s already been condemned. He’s scared for life.

  16. Al™ says:

    Time will tell if he thinks the infamy is a good thing or a bad thing. Some people thrive on the notoriety they receive by being outrageous. Hard to tell with this guy.

  17. His run on Calvin and Hobbes was great.

  18. It would be interesting if the nerderati got angry about things that directly affect them, like TicketLeap being unable to sell tickets four times in a row for SDCC, or for the big two publishers being unable to meet their schedules for their biggest books. One fat fraud at a con is small beer compared to the shit business practices that go on daily in comics.

  19. Dave Elliott says:

    I was walking down Prince Street, NY, on Saturday and spotted someone setting up his table on the street with paintings copied from John Bryne’s work on show with what I presume was the artists name on them, because it wasn’t John’s. Now the carpets been lifted up I wonder what else has been living underneath it and how many more bugs we’ll find…

  20. faboofour says:

    As I intimated in the other thread on this subject, the estate of Fred MacMurray would have a stronger case against Alex Ross than anyone has against this poor sap.

    As I said in the other thread: Swipes occured on every damn page of every damn comic book published since 1935. This one’s only “crime” is that he didn’t credit his sources–which is more than the Eiger studio did when they recycled Eisner’s work for a decade.

    Where’s all the indignation over artists swiping Shuster’s, Beck’s, Peters’s, Kirby’s, et al, character designs at every damned convention? Oh, hey’s that’s okay, is it?

    Just out of curiosity, does TwoMorrow publishing pay artists a per-panel fee for the work they reprint and sell for profit? Does AC comics?

    So where’s the line, anyway? When do we lynch a swipe artist and when do we give him an Inkpot award?

    So, hey, what’s next from the lynch mob? Someone gonna dredge up a Kenyan birth certificate for him?

    Wow, just…. wow….

  21. Gianluca Glazer says:

    Snikt Snakt says:
    03/29/2011 at 2:19 pm
    “Maybe all the vile/nerd rage this guy is getting will make the next person who considers doing something like this, think twice…”

    Nick Simmons says hi.

  22. We expect publishers to take advantage of us. We expect bootleggers and downloaders to steal our work.

    But it hurts in a special way when someone pretending to be one of our own does this.

    Interesting parallel: I had a book-editing client who didn’t (or pretended he didn’t) understand that she couldn’t quote several pages of a historical web site in her book without attribution.

    Granito also claims he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. Perhaps that’s a sign of the times. But I was surprised, to be frank, at the obvious, extensive plagerism.

    What a dope.

  23. Gabe Carey says:

    i was a proofreader at dark horse and other publishers and i personally saw rob granito perform at a professional and talented level this is nothing more than a whichhunt to the ones who love drama the guy is being treated unfairly because its a slow news week believe me the truth will come out but he is bringing so much traffic to theyre website and bloggers he should be paid for an interview in just my opinion i worked in the comic industries for 16-17 years and i know the deal peoples remember you are just fans not professional artists ive had enough seriuously let this story die so the dude can get back to work in the future i am sure he will put after georg perez on tribute peaces in the meantime this story is boring

  24. “Gabe”: proofreaders usually proofread what they post, so you’re not fooling anyone. You don’t just need legal help, Rob, you need psychological help.

  25. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Wait, wait, is “Gabe” for real? Or is someone having a laugh pretending to be Granito? That is, is this a fraud fraud? A question for the ages, I suppose.

  26. “Whichhunt” sounds like an awesome, bloody vendetta from the pages of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. Thanks for the laughs, Rob.

  27. I totally misspelled my name above in honor of this thread (sigh…stupid iPad and my hot dog fingers!)

  28. The comics industry has a long “chop shop” history as exampled by these words of wisdom by the great Wally Wood, “Never draw what you can copy; never copy what you can trace; and never trace what you can cut out and paste up.”

  29. Dave Parker says:

    Hi I have been at many conventions, and, I have seen Mr Rob Granito work, and I never saw him steal, There are Alot of Tribute Pieces of Art, Why blame it all on Rob Granito, Just dont buy his stuff if it bothered you, Were else can he go to work everyone has a right to work, I dont know him myself but I have been reading this and It Is Just my Opinion.

  30. Seriously says:

    I’m really tired of the industry hypocrisy when it comes to Greg Land. What’s the deal? Is it that everyone knows Land is a swiping hack and we’re all over it? Nope.

    If we’re analyzing our response to the Granito situation, we should really take a hard look at why we don’t go ape-shit when it comes to guy’s like Land.

    Granito was an easy target because nothing was really at stake for anyone attacking him. Attack Rob Granito and you get a little street cred. Attack Greg Land and you maybe piss off a Marvel editor or two.

    Rob Granito was low hanging fruit. That’s all this is about.

  31. It is my sad duty to inform everyone that “Dave Parker” and “Gabe Carey” have the same IP address, increasing the likelihood that they were written by the same person.

    Although normally I ban spoofers, the entertainment value here seems high, so lets see how many more imaginary friends Rob can conjure up.

  32. Liam C says:

    nerd rage: Justifiable. Imagine the betrayal you feel when one of your own stabs you in the back. THIS is what it’s about. Not just the hack job this guy pulled on other people’s art by lightboxing, tracing or whatever else he did. He betrayed the trust of a great many people in the field and fans. There are some other alleged suspicious things he and his “manager” pulled that, while yet not 100% concrete yet, would and (probably) should land them both in the pokey.
    Go after this guy. Be my guest. He’s damned lucky he’s not been offered a challenge to enter a boxing ring so he can get a little punishment meted out as he deserves.
    Chase this guy until he cries as far as I’m concerned. Just remember that the honorable thing in all of this is to leave his family (if he has one) alone. Word has been spread of threats and hate to his alleged “wife” and “Kids.” if he has ‘em, I can’t say. If he does, leave off them, people. Hold the man responsible, not those whose only crime was being related to him in some fashion.

  33. I don’t think this is really something peculiar to comics. A lot of fraud basically works on the principle that a blatant but superficially plausible lie will probably go unchecked because people assume you’d never risk lying about something so easily disproved. It’s amazing how easy it often is to unravel these things once you start actually looking.

  34. X-fan says:

    This guy just abused people trust and good will. When someone blatantly mentions collaborations with some major creators and publishers, it doesn’t occur to us that he’s lying his ass off. This industry is filled with genuinely nice people who are sometimes way too trusting and this schmuck took advantage of that.

  35. The fact that this guy was able to so easily pretend he was something he was not makes me think there are others. If there’s one Rob Granito defrauding people at funny book conventions, there are probably ten other hacks doing the same exact thing.

  36. One thing I really don’t get about this whole Granito story, is how he fooled anyone, ever. Professional artists have distinct recognizable styles. You can look at a piece from any popular comic artist and recognize it as being from their body of work. You don’t look in the portfolio of Mike Mignola or Darwyn Cooke or George Perez for example and see a hundred totally different styles. Even a quick first glance through Granito’s portfolio shows it for what it is, artwork in a dozen completely dissimilar styles. Nothing in there looks even slightly related. It all looks like it was done by different people, because really, it was. The only unifying factor in Granito’s work is the poor level of craftsmanship in his copies. What I’m saying I guess is I’m a little puzzled at this dude being “exposed”. I don’t see how anyone with even the slightest interest in comics, or art in general, could have ever have seen this guy for anything other than what he was.

  37. Lunchbox says:

    Serious question: is Rob mentally challenged? Just reading his — or rather ‘Gabe’ and ‘Dave’s’ responses here and other things Rob’s written that’ve shown up at Bleeding Cool, it’s pretty clear he’s at the very least borderline illiterate, and I really can’t imagine someone with even a below-average IQ would try and get away with what he was doing (and continues to do — posing as various made-up industry insiders, professionals and fans)? Just curious — anyone ever actually talk to this guy IRL?

  38. Snikt Snakt says:

    Gianluca Glazer: “Nick Simmons says hi.”

    He has his daddy’s KISS money to bail him out of any potential problems he may have…or to pay off any creators he’s stolen from.

  39. Synsidar says:

    One thing I really don’t get about this whole Granito story, is how he fooled anyone, ever.

    That’s what I was thinking. His claims made the fraud about as blatant as, say, offering buyers Rolexes at $25 each. Who’s going to believe that’s possible?

    From a creative standpoint, there are only minor differences between Granito’s tracing and photo tracing artwork. There’s a distinct lack of effort involved in photo tracing. And when the sources, e.g., actors in porn films, are easily recognizable — Putting Granito out of business would be good, but it’s not a big accomplishment.

    SRS

  40. faboofour says:

    @Lunchbox:

    “…it’s pretty clear he’s at the very least borderline illiterate, and I really can’t imagine someone with even a below-average IQ would try and get away with what he was doing…”

    I’d imagine exactly the opposite: that an intellectually-challenged person wouldn’t see a problem with padding his resume the way he did and think he could get away with it in the incestuous culture that buys “art” at comic book conventions.

    Which makes his lynching all the sadder. From was I’ve seen of his work (and granted, I’ve just lo-res comparison jpegs to work with), his work really isn’t any worse than a lot of stuff I see on e-bay and Heritage. And certainly no less ethical than, say, an artist being commissioned to reproduce a DC comics cover the artist (or, as I’ve seen, a different artist) did as work-for-hire.

    So how does it feel to help try to take away the livelihood of a likely-intellectually-challenged human being? You all must be so proud!

  41. I don’t think the problem lies so much in Granito’s copying as it is the fact that he lied about his achievements and connections within the world of comics. He used these fradulant claims to obtain guest spots and other perks at conventions. He lied his way into already crowded artist alleys and depriving actual artists of a spot.

  42. faboofour says:

    @Will:

    Did he? Hadn’t heard any of that. Are you saying he got anything gratis that others had to pay for? Are convention promoters that ignorant or stupid?

    If that’s truly the case, it’s really the fault of the convention promoters not being bothered to check even the most basic, easily disprovable claims.

    You actually pay money to these kinds of clowns to attend? If what you say is actually true (and I do hope it’s just heresay) it’s the promoters that are frauds for giving thieves crediblity.

    But as I said elsewhere, it’s not likely that promoters will ever do what this lynch mob is actually claiming they want. Banning every artist who every sold (or gave away–profit is irrrelevant in intellectual property law) a Power Girl sketch would leave virtually not a single artist in attendance.

  43. @faboofour:

    He also ganked photos and artwork from random Deviant Art accounts, enlarged them, covered up the signature, and sold them as his own creations:

    http://legit-o-mite.com/swipes/voodoobaby.jpg

    Nothing defensible about that, surely?

  44. Mark Bourne says:

    Tell’s me he got into Wizard World con and I can’t even get a Pro Pass into Wizard World Anaheim!

  45. Holy hell. “Gabe” and “Dave”? Seriously. This is getting sad. He chose to pretend to be a proofreader for Dark Horse now? I grammar correct my text messages better than that. Yeah, I’m agreeing with people who think this guy needs some psychological help. The guy’s a sociopathic liar. Never mind that he seems almost delusional believing the lies he’s trying to sell. Give it up. Get some help.

  46. faboofour says:

    Look: let me make this clear: I am in no way defending anyone’s actions at all. There is no way to defend anyone actions in this affair.

    Because as far as I’m concerned, there’s not a single individual involved in this ugly thing, lyncher or lynchee (iszat a word?), who’s not either a fraud or a self-righteous hypocrite.

    The entire history of comics, from the Hearst/Pulitzer legal battles and Donenfeld’s questionable appropriation of Wheeler-Nicholson assets forward, has been one story of fraud and theft after the next. Moldolf steals from Raymond, Novick steals from Kirby. Everyone steals from Shuster or Messmer or Iwerks. Contemporary writers steal from Binder and Hamilton and Schwartz. And Siegel, over and over and over. Who stole from Wylie.

    That’s what people in the comics industry do. They steal. They take the work of others and appropriate it. Blatantly. Especially artists at conventions who sell or give away reproduction of creations not their own. And no less culpable are the buyers, who are in on the fraud, as are the promoters who sell space to the thieves.

    None of it is defensible. None of it.

    And especially indefensible is calling someone else a thief when you make a living drawing or writing about other people’s designs and characters.

    There’s nothing to defend. It’s all just business as usual. Just don’t look under the rock.

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  1. [...] week, while Andy Khouri at ComicsAlliance has a thorough summary on the situation. Heidi MacDonald has an editorial, while the site Legit-o-mite has a collection of exhibits that include not only pieces of artwork [...]

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