A couple of weeks ago, comic nerd-dom (particularly comic artist fanboys) collectively FREAKED THE HECK OUT when the discovery of one Rob Granito was made by Rich Johnston. Johnston, who has an amazing track record of whipping the masses into pitchfork wielding frenzies, called Granito out on his ridiculous resume and his obviously swiped portfolio.
This of course brought out the requisite crazies, sycophants, and sheep, who herded around Johnson rending and hewing their garments.
“Rob Granito steals other people’s poses!” quickly became “Rob Granito is stealing money from other artists.” “Rob Granito lies” quickly became “Rob Granito is the devil.”, and soon people were going out of their way to surreptitiously record video of this base villain, while famous artists and writers were running him out of town.
Listen…the guy is a frigging DOUCHE of this there’s no question. His resume is full of blatant lies (that anyone with a brain, yes, even a Wizard World employee) should have been able to spot within seconds. Sorry, but nobody “ghosted” for Bill Watterson, the man has made it a source of public pride (in what little public he’s done). His biggest crime by far was the fact that he lied and padded the SHIT out his resume. Yeah, this is pretty gross, the guy seems to be nearly pathological in his ability to weave a tale that invents names and places.
HOWEVER, the man isn’t the only liar in the world. Heck, he’s not even the only liar in the insular little world of comics people.
So what were his biggest crimes?
He stole poses (or he traced existing pictures). Umm, like what, 90% of the “artists” in artist’s alley at any one of these shows? I’m not talking about the big names, I mean the little dudes and dudettes who are selling their own take on “Amazing AardvarkMan”, with poses ripped right off from the latest cover by Ethan McLee. How is it that Greg Land can even have a job in a world where lightboxing and projection tracing is taboo? Why isn’t Mr. Land being chased right out of the world of comics, instead of being given a high profile title like Uncanny X-Men?
He used corporately controlled copyrighted characters in his art. Actually, NOBODY seems to care about this part. Exactly like any number of mainstream or small time artists at any convention I’ve ever gone to. I have about two dozen illustrations that I’ve commissioned from artists at shows, which have ranged in price from $10.00 to $120.00. Nobody bats an eye at the fact that Marvel, DC, and any other publisher gets absolutely NO licensing fees from this practice.
People got ripped off by spending $300.00 on his art. Folks, this is a free market economy, sorry that Granito was better at pricing his stuff than you are, but if the room was willing to spend $300.00 on his art, then his art is worth $300.00. His pedigree doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. I have seen guys at flea markets with NO PUBLISHING CREDITS WHATSOEVER sell crappy half assed watercolours for $300.00. That’s what people were willing to pay.
Also, what makes you think that painted art by Jimmy “This week’s hotness” is going to be worth the $300.00 you paid for it this week ANYWAY? I have a few dozens of pieces of original artwork, and even though I paid quite a bit for some of it (I have some cool Dale Eaglesham pieces that I really dig), I am under no illusion that I could flip it tomorrow and make more money than I paid for it. I bought stuff I liked! I bought the splash page of Justice Society of America #2, which is the 1st appearance of “Nathan Heywood”, the guy who would go on to be Citizen Steel, not because it was his first appearance, but because it was a FRIGGING COOL SHOT!
Also, he didn’t STEAL anything from any artist in the room, any more than they are “stealing” from Marvel and DC when the artist in question draws an illustration of Spider-Man or Batman. Sorry folks, that’s a double standard (one I’ve talked about before in a blog post about Michael Cho). That publishers “look the other way” doesn’t make it any less wrong when you go and do a print run of a lithograph of Spider-Man.
Still on the subject of stealing, an argument can be made that because people spent money with Granito, they didn’t spend it on another artist in the room. Fair enough, but as a former comics retailer, I’ll say that by that logic these artists are stealing from my booth. Artists pay much less for their tables than we retailers do, and our carrying costs are much higher, so any money that people spend with them is money directly out of our pockets.
Except IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! Just like the money that a customer pays you for that cool drawing of BatIguana wasn’t mine, the money that Granito got was never yours. You didn’t have exactly the pose the guy was looking for, or your price point was too high, or Granito’s booth was better than yours, or any one of a NUMBER of other reasons that he sold that piece of art, but the money was never yours to begin with, so move along.
In the end, the great unwashed (and I mean that sincerely) ran Rob Granito out of town and he’ll never be heard from again.
I’m not sorry about that at all, like I said, the guy is a douche, he’s a liar, and he stepped over all sorts of lines. I do however take exception to the lynch mob mentality that sprung up, and the absolute villification that people like Rich Johnson have done on the guy.
Folks, comics are an increasingly insular industry. I just always thought it was more “kissing cousins”, and not so much “The Hills Have Eyes”.