|Fake Joker by Rob Granito vs real Joker by Norm Breyfogle|
Now, over to Terry.
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: http://www.pigdogproductions.com/halloffame.html -- 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: http://blog.drawn.ca/ (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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Batman_creators (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: http://midwestcomicbook.com/ Take a look at the work of a few of them, will you?
Evan Palmer: http://www.evanpalmercomics.com/
Maddie Queripel: http://www.madelinequeripel.com/
Bart King: http://www.bartaking.com/
Sean Lynch: http://www.tallsean.blogspot.com/
Anna Bongiovanni: http://www.annabongiovanni.com/
Renny Kissling: http://www.reynoldbot.com/
Tuo Vue: http://twovoo.blogspot.com/
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.