Monday, March 28, 2011

An open letter to comics fans regarding Rob Granito (and others like him)

Fake Joker by Rob Granito vs real Joker by Norm Breyfogle
Possibly the best comment about the growing Rob Granito saga comes from Terry Beatty, via Facebook  Before you read it though, a small note for Norm Breyfogle collectors - amongst the many artists that Rob has been stealing from (and it is a long list indeed), Rob has been selling 'original' paintings that are merely poor copies of the Joker image from Norm's Batman #451 cover art.  Be aware, if it's not signed by Norm then it's a fake, and if it's signed by Granito, then it's a copy of Norm's work.  As Norm did the cover as work for hire for DC Comics, Rob might want to cease pumping out copies as DC might just decide to come after him for copyright violation - after all, copying a commission is one thing, but selling copies of original cover art without permission is another, no matter what Jay Diddilo and John Quesada might want to say...

Now, over to Terry.

Dear comics fans,

You've likely noticed the fuss this week over a certain Rob Granito, a plagiarist who has been making the rounds of comic conventions for several years, selling prints that are slightly altered copies of works by other cartoonists or photographers.  His resume is full of lies and, at best, half truths.  See this:

And yet, he's been selling these prints and "paintings" to fans, and seemingly making some real money in the process -- at least enough to hire an armed bodyguard to sit with him at shows (I'm not kidding about this -- it's documented).

Now the real blame for Rob lies with Rob.  He's either self-deluded or too stupid to know what he's been doing is wrong -- or he's simply a liar and thief who doesn't care.

A little bit of blame has to go to the conventions who've been letting Rob (and others like him) set up to sell their fraudulent wares --  and that's a serious subject that needs to be dealt with, but I'm not to going to focus on that here.  I'll let others fight that fight.

But the Rob Granitos of the world wouldn't be scamming people with their fake art if people weren't lining up to be scammed. Now I'm not blaming the victims here -- but I do have some suggestions that could help you to not be a victim.

If you love comics, take the time to learn more about the artists who create them.  It's easier now that ever. A quick search on the web turns up this great comic book artist hall of fame:  -- if you claim to love comics, you should know all these artists.  Anyone who loves comic art will be thrilled by these images.

If you want to discover more current creators, then try the Drawn blog: (be sure to check out the work of twin brothers Asaf and Tomer Hanuka -- great drawing!).

 If you're more drawn to characters than just comic art in general -- say you're a Batman fan -- then take the time to discover who created the Batman imagery you like best.  You could start here:   (though why Bruce Timm and Frank Robbins aren't on this list, I have no idea).  If you discover that Bruce Timm is the "Batman guy" you like best, and you familiarize yourself with his work -- then maybe, when you see rip-off artists copying his drawings and trying to sell them at cons (as Granito has done), you can know enough to say no thanks.  That way you won't be taken advantage of, and you won't be supporting the work of a plagiarist.

Guys like Rob depend on the fact that their customers are not educated enough to know their swiped artwork from the real thing.  Don't let these goons steal from you and treat you like a "mark."  Educate yourself -- delve deeper into the world of comics -- there is wonderful stuff to discover and you'll be all the richer for it.  Studying comics history isn't painful.  If you really love comics it's a joy.  Do you know Hal Foster, Alex Raymond or Roy Crane?  If not, I envy you the joy of discovery -- look them up!

And next time you're at a con, how about looking at the work of new up-and-coming artists?  I've been teaching in the comics program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design for some time now, and have had some remarkably talented young artists in my classes.  Some are still in the Twin Cities area and will be at the upcoming Spring Con:    Take a look at the work of a few of them, will you?

Evan Palmer:
Maddie Queripel:
Bart King:
Sean Lynch:
Anna Bongiovanni:
Renny Kissling:
Tuo Vue:

There are so many more I could list -- all them them talented, sincere, original -- and far more worthy of the attention of comics fans than a hundred Rob Granitos.  Don't hand your hard earned money over to the rip-off artists -- instead, I beg you to support the honest work of these (and many other) cartoonists who wouldn't dream of stealing from other artists or you -- because they are too busy putting their own dreams on paper.

All the movie promo, costumes, gaming and such that have flooded comic convention in recent years can be fun -- but, please remember this all started with the comics -- and those comics were all created by talented, hard-working, dedicated artists spending long hours putting ink on paper to create all those characters and stories that you love.  Batman is just a fictional character -- but the artists who draw his adventures are real people -- many of whom are in the same "artists alleys" at comic cons as the Granitos of the world, and would be happy to draw a legitimate (as opposed to Rob's now notorious "legitomite") Batman sketch for you.

Don't be a mark for con artists, please.  Support the real artists -- long-time pros and fresh new faces -- who create their own work with passion, honesty and skill.  The world of comics will be much better without scam artists.  Do your part to make them go away.


Terry Beatty


Anonymous said...

If an artist were to recreate (and be paid for) a cover or comic page at someone's request, give copyright credit and acknowledge the original artist/s, and stamp it as a recreation - would this be considered as acceptable or not, do you think?

Daniel Best said...

Short answer - yes. Long answer, well, it depends. However most professional artists refuse to do line-for-line recreations of other people's art. But yes, if an artist does do a recreation/commission of someone else's art, then they should be stating that it is a recreation and giving the original artist credit and not attempt to pass it off as their own image - their own work, yes, but they didn't originate the image (if that makes sense).

In the case of Granito, he's taking other people's artwork, tracing it and then signing it with his own name, and not acknowledging the original artist. With the example I posted, nowhere on the art does he state that the art was taken from Norm's cover. He's selling it as a commission of an image that he himself orginated.

Anonymous said...

A modern day Lichtenstein, eh?

rnigma said...

Continuing the parasitical tradition of Todd Goldman and that Tunnels & Trolls guy... Rob Granito.

Funny that Lichtenstein is mentioned above. Roy swiped one panel from a story that, say, Russ Heath drew, and sold it for thousands, while Heath got paid, what, $10 for drawing the whole page?

Smurfswacker said...

rnigma: Right about that Lichtenstein painting, and Russ is quite aware of the difference between what he and Roy L. got for their efforts.

The irony is, even if someone had sued Lichtenstein back then, it would have been DC comics, since Heath had signed away his rights to the art when he collected his paycheck.

Daniel Best said...

Lichtenstein was an art thief, pure and simple. That companies didn't sue him amazes me, and that the serious art world adore him amazes me more. I have pointed out to people that ole Roy was nothing but a swiper and most of them are stunned when they see the source material.

I guess the difference is that Roy made things look fine, Rob's efforts are crap.

Anonymous said...

What's your take on guys like Mike Royer producing copies of Kirby pages originally inked by another inker? Presumably he gets all the money from such sales?