Comic books as a medium are no stranger to piracy and theivery. Like any medium really, these things “happen.” However, in recent memory, nothing to this scale has happened, especially with it going under the radar of so many. (And, to be truthful, we would have thrown our two cents in if it didn’t all go down over the weekend).
This is going to be a LONG post for a news post, but before we begin I just want to make it clear that this is essentially Bleeding Cool’s story. They’ve been on this like white on rice since it broke. Our aim is merely to share the story. The last thing I’d want it to look like is that I’m doing my best Granito impersonation and swiping another site’s work. So, for reference, here are links: biff, bang, boom, pow, thwap, bang, snikt, klang, and fwoosh.
Ok. Let’s begin. For the entire story of “the Charlie Sheen of comics”, take a look behind the cut.
So let’s back up. For those not in the “know” (or whatnot), Rob Granito is in the simplest of terms a thief and a liar. Not exactly the friendliest way to start something like this out, but we’ll make due. He had been appearing at various conventions selling art and whatnot, and he also claimed to have worked for DC and Marvel, despite no one knowing who he was. However, claims that Granito’s work looked oddly familiar were what really began to ignite various fires. And of course it was Rich Johnston to the rescue to sort things out.
Johnston contacted Granito to find out who he was and what exactly he has worked on, to which Granito replied that he was working with someone named Jay Diddilo on an upcoming Batman arc. He also noted that he had done various covers for Shaddow of the Bat (not to be confused with Shadow of the Bat?), Teen Titans, Spiderman (not to be confused with Spider-Man?) and Iron Man, as well as – direct quote – “the Animated batman series 1092-1995.” Johnston pointed out that he was essentially lying here since those covers were done by Brian Stelfreeze, Dan Jurgens and George Perez respectively, at which point Granito replied that he was a “ghost artist,” at which point he stopped replying. It also doesn’t hurt to add that when Johnston asked Jurgens and Perez, neither had ever heard of the guy.
Meanwhile, over on another blog, it looks like Rob Granito struck in the form of an anonymous DC Assistant Editor and/or art director. In a post essentially spreading the Granito news, the following anonymous post was made:
No he is legitomite i was a DC Assistant Editor until a year ago and we used Rob as a ghost artist on a number of books we used he is well known on the “insiders” level of the industry and did alot of promotion art for DC and Marvel dont believbe rumors i worked at DC as an art director for 6-7 years and we used Rob alot he is legit
Far be it from me or anyone else to question the anonymous illiterate ramblings of an editor, right?
Of course, once the flood gates open, everything comes pouring out in waves and waves. I won’t try and take too much of your time, but suffice it to say in one Bleeding Cool post we were given 19 examples of art swiping, including two rather famous images of Calvin and Hobbes which he – not Bill Watterson – apparently designed for USPS as a stamp. Because that makes sense.
One of the saddest moments came when Joe Peacock wrote an entire blog entry about the situation, claiming to be a friend of Granito. He told the incredible story of meeting Rob, seeing other people hate on Rob, hanging out with Rob’s “manager-slash-bodyguard” Derek (who walks around with a .45 caliber handgun at all times to ward of the “crazy people”), and designing Granito’s website for him as a favor. He also admits he had no idea what Grantio was doing, and in turn feels very offended to have acted as his friend, noting that seeing Granito in anything now is like “hearing the voice of an ex, after they’ve cheated on you and left you.” It’s a very sad read, in all honesty. And what’s worse? An anonymous e-mail sent to Bleeding Cool notes that no one had any idea what he was doing, and that everyone was in the dark this whole time.Continued below
Queue Ethan Van Sciver and Mark Waid – or as Mark refers to them, “comics’ leading leftwing socialist hippiefreak AND comics’ leading rightwing Nazi.”
To make essentially a long story short, Mark Waid and Sciver gave Granito a screaming at at MegaCon this past weekend, which apparently included lots of yelling, expletives, and the “official” banning of Granito from ever coming to a comic convention ever again. Sciver berated Granito for stealing artwork in the form of tracing, whereas Granito claimed that he was simply being “inspired.” There’s even a great bit in Van Sciver’s write up in which he notes a back and forth between he and Granito, noting that you can’t say “inspired”, but instead “AFTER,” to which Granito claimed to just be confused. For reference of how this is handled professionally, just take a look at the cover to Venom #2 by Tony Moore. It’s a recognizable cover certainly, but the key thing to notice here is where it says “Tony Moore After McFarlane.”
However, the real tipping point? Granito attempting to capitalize on the death of Dwayne McDuffie. Waid posted on Facebook a recap of said events, ending the fight with, “Make your money here, because this is your last convention. Do you understand me? This is your last show.” Since then, most cons that he has reserved spaces at have since begun removing him, with Wizard World banning from attending all future cons that are related to them. And we were so hoping to interview Rob at New York Comic Con this year! Rats.
This has been a very long news post, but the long and short of it for those of you skipping to the end to see the wrap up is this: thievery of any kind is absolutely unacceptable. The comic world will notice. Granted – it may take a little bit of time, since apparently he’s been doing this since 2006, but it only takes one tiny miniscual slip up to get the vicious army of the internet to come after you. This is the world that we now live in. In the modern era, with everyone having an iPhone in their pocket and access to news from every corner of the globe, things get noticed. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an oppressive dictator in a foreign country or just a small time art thief who likes to trace – you’ll be found out, you will be berated, and one way or another you will be stopped.
It’s at this point that I would like to once again give credit to Rich Johnston from Bleeding Cool for being the one to break the story in it’s various aspects. Consider this me not being “inspired” by Johnston, but rather coming in “after.” Or something along those lines in terms of blogging/reporting news.
Additionally, did we ever tell you about the time another site plagiarized our articles? We didn’t? Oh right. It’s kind of a funny story. We agreed with the other site to keep it quiet as long as they removed all of our content from their site, which they did. But we do have screenshots. Perhaps maybe on a slow news day we’ll stir the pot a tad. We learned a lesson from the situation though, which additionally led to a lot of changes of how we present various materials here at MC. But the moral of the story is that things get stolen. Plagiarism happens. We know this. It’s still never acceptable.