You may have heard of comic fandom’s most notorious huckster, Rob Granito. He spent nearly a decade on the convention circuit plagiarizing the work of his betters, and making lofty claims to credits most people don’t get after 20 years in publishing, despite the fact that no one in the business has ever heard of the guy.
Because I was goofing off on the internet instead of drawing comics (which is what real pros do,) I decided to dig into this goofball’s background to see if he was guilty as accused. Since the accusations were so off the scale, even I had trouble believing anyone was that big of a fraud.
The only “official” work I could find from this guy was as a sketch card artist for Upper Deck (and the jury is out on that credit: some of his cards appear to be printed). It does not appear he has ever worked for Marvel or DC Comics, or on any of the famous comic books he claims to have drawn. If his birthdate of 1975 is correct, he would have to be a kid in high school drawing mainstream comics, which is pretty rare. If true, everyone would have heard of this guy. He claims to have ghosted an impressive list of artists from Brian Stelfreeze to George Perez.
Then I found this on Granito’s Facebook page (now gone,) a post in which he cynically exploited the death of Dwayne McDuffie by claiming he worked with the fellow. Dwayne was not only not yet cold, but Granito posted the ploy the day Dwayne died.
A bunch of people snatched my screenshot, spread it around the internet, and all hell broke loose. Plagiarism is one thing, but dancing on the grave of a beloved fellow pro is another level of shittery altogether.
Granito and his wife spent many days trying to clean up their mess by adopting a variety of online identities, and by behaving like wahoos, eventually sinking low enough to decide that their newfound internet asshole status should be paid for. They demanded $200 for interviews.
The nuttery eventually gave way to some interesting discussions about the nature of plagiarism, and the ethical use of swipe:
JESUS H Christ on a totem pole, HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO EXPLAIN WHAT PLAGIARISM MEANS? Did IQ’s drop precipitously when they invented the internet, or were all of these stupid people just out there hanging about unnoticed before they learned to type and display these wanton acts of idiocy?
No one CARES if you use your own photo reference. For God’s sake, you’re supposed to! Why do you think REAL illustrators pay thousands of bucks for models, photographers, and costumes?
And today, the intrepid Rich Johnston sat down with Rob Granito for an (unpaid) interview, ten questions which reveal a stunning lack of intellect, ethics, and basic grammar. This is how Granito defines “working with” someone:
I did work with Dwayne McDuffie, at least, I considered it working with him because he gave me pointers. I’ll tell you the story. A couple of years ago, at a con, I was doing fan sketches, and one fan asked for a sketch of Luke Cage, so I was like, cool. And I started it but didn’t really like it and decided to start a new one. So I ripped the other one up, and Dwayne McDuffie was going around the floor, and I had met him before, so he came up to look over my shoulder to see what I was drawing, you know, friendly and stuff. So he sees me doing this Luke Cage, and he started giving me advice, because he told me, this was such an important character to him from when he was a kid.
So, like, if you talk to somebody at a convention, it’s totally like working with someone.
Does anyone actually believe Dwayne McDuffie would tell anyone to draw Luke Cage to look more “gangsta”?
I hope Granito goes away now.
UPDATE: Interesting comments thread post by Sara Teague:
Ok, not that it’s not obvious, but he’s lying, particularly about the Bruce Timm stuff. I spoke with him directly in Toronto. He didn’t imply he’d worked with Bruce Timm, he said, verbatim, that he was one of the storyboard and background artist for the entire duration of not only the Batman Animated Series, but also Superman the Animated Series as well as Batman Beyond and JLU. He talked about how he fought to keep the original ending of the Return of the Joker movie. He also claimed to have worked on Samurai Jack, and that one of his canvas paintings was used as promotional art for Cartoon Network (this was the one that was supposedly signed by Phil Lamarr). This is actually when I started to catch on that the guy was lying, because why in the world would a network use a painted canvas for promotion? He talked about the voice actors methods of working, and what they’re like as people since he’d met them all in his work (another red flag–how many animators get to sit in on voice recording sessions? Also this guy’s NY accent was thicker than peasoup, when and where did he do this animation work? It’s not done in NY). He lied to our faces, and took our money, period. Yes, some of the people who bought his artwork liked it–they liked it because it resembled work be famous and talented artists. He claimed to be something he’s not, and it directly translated into sales.
I’d hoped he would just come clean, and offer his apologies, but he’s just going to keep on lying, sticking to things that we cant prove are untrue, like that awful Dwayne McDuffie story (more gangsta? Ick!). But I can tell you first hand, he directly lied about his involvement and credentials about the Bruce Timm work.