The Ballad of Comic Con Grifter Rob Granito
A prolific comics convention grifter was run out of the proverbial town over the weekend thanks to the vigilant efforts of the comic book Internet community. Rob Granito has reportedly been banished from a number of high profile conventions for his unscrupulous practices of tracing or otherwise duplicating existing comic book artwork and selling it as his own; misrepresenting himself to convention organizers and other parties as a working professional; claiming to be the “ghost” creator of famous comic book works; and, most distastefully, attempting to strengthen his fabricated reputation by lying about a working relationship with the late Dwayne McDuffie.
Following days of merciless exposure, mockery and condemnation, the coup de grâce came to Granito at last weekend’s MegaCon in Orlando, Florida, in the form of a brutal verbal smackdown courtesy of Mark Waid and Ethan Van Sciver.Rob Granito is an uncommonly successful “tracer” artist, being someone who profits from the sale of other people’s artwork that he has duplicated and modified in some slight way so as to make it plausibly different from the original. By tracing or otherwise recreating attractive illustrations and photographing them in a kind of “work-in-progress” fashion, Granito was able to convince visitors to his website that he was creating original works. He took this material to comics conventions to sell for a profit and also accepted commissions for additional works. It is unknown how much money Granito has made with this scam but he has been active for several years.
The most egregious example of Granito’s art fakery is a piece based on Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, which was duplicated, flipped horizontally and made to look more authentically original with added brush strokes around the outside. Granito photographed himself with the work, which he listed on eBay as a stamp he created for the United States Postal Service.
Many such people can be found at any comic book convention in the United States, posing as remarkably talented amateurs, but Granito doubled down on the swindle by falsifying professional credentials to his customers and to convention organizers. Granito has routinely secured himself auspicious exhibiting space at some of the biggest comics conventions in the U.S. while legitimate illustrators and other professionals are relegated to the ghetto of “artist alley”. One of those conventions is Orlando’s MegaCon, the most recent of which was held over the weekend and will likely be Granito’s last.
Although a highly dubious presence known to the comics art community for many years, the elevation and reckoning of Rob Granito didn’t actually begin until late last week, when Bleeding Cool published a correspondence in which he claimed to be working on a Batman project for DC Comics with a writer called Jay Diddilo; that he “ghost-created” Brian Stelfreeze’s famous cover paintings for Batman: Shadow of the Bat; and that he worked as an artist on Batman: The Animated Series.
I am currently working iwth Jay Diddilo on a batman title that has not yet been released. I’ve worked on dozens of books the shaddow of the bat being the batman title I was on for about 4 weeks. Most of my work has been covers though. The current took deals with a bit more of the history of the “batman” then his current exploits though.
Jay is one of the big Writters for DC I probbibaly spelled his name rite, covers range from the Shaddow of the bat issues 12-25, teen titans 1-7, Spiderman I did a butt load I dont know the numbers, for Iron Man the same. For the Animated batman series 1092-1995.
Needless to say, there is no such person as Jay Diddilo, Stelfreeze studio mate Cully Hamner has confirmed the authenticity of his friend’s work, and Warner Bros. Animation veterans have no memory of Rob Granito.
The audacity of his lies coupled with the especially imbecilic way in which he communicates have caused some to wonder whether Granito isn’t just a free-roaming psychotic, someone deserving of mockery or even sympathy but little more. Ty Templeton, the veteran cartoonist and contributor to DC Comics’ prestigious The Batman Adventures franchise, took that route when he learned that one of his drawings of the Joker had become fuel for Granito’s ripoff machine.
As is our wont, the comics community had a great deal of fun at Granito’s expense over the weekend. The Rob Granito is a Fraud Facebook page became the hot nightclub of the Web, and Twitter was filthy with Granito jokes, cartoons and condemnations ranging from clever and hilarious to sanctimonious and vulgar. Photos emerged of the 36-year-old Granito smiling with who are believed to be his two young children (although we suppose it’s possible he stole them too), and the electronic mob seemed suddenly less fun. But questions of decorum were set aside when it was discovered that Granito had taken the occasion of Dwayne McDuffie’s recent passing to make himself appear more legitimate. After that, Granito’s fate was assured.
Admittedly enraged by Granito’s invocation of McDuffie, comics writer Mark Waid and artist Ethan Van Sciver accosted Granito at his booth at MegaCon. Waid described the tense encounter on Facebook.
It’s just that when I heard that he’d tried to capitalize off Dwayne’s death, that was the last straw for me. I saw red and stormed over with Ethan. We were both livid. I told Fraudboy in no uncertain terms that I will personally contact every convention there is and warn them not to give him a table if they ever want to see me or MY friends there, EVER. I also screamed at him when he said “Well, truthfully–” that he is not allowed to use that word, ever, ever. That word means nothing coming from him.
I believe my exact endquote, two hours before the show closed, was, “Make your money here, because this is your last convention. Do you understand me? This is your last show.” That’s right, I was so pissed, I unilaterally appointed myself Sheriff of All Comicons. I should have a badge made.
I think my favorite moment was when this kid said to Ethan–after lying when asked if he’d actually claimed to have worked with Dwayne (a claim he ABSOLUTELY made)–”I just considered him a friend, same as I’d consider you a friend–” and Ethan growled “Let’s make this clear: I am NOT YOUR FRIEND.”
Dear Fraudboy: When you have comics’ leading leftwing socialist hippiefreak AND comics’ leading rightwing Nazi teaming up to smack you down, YOU HAVE F*CKED UP.
As of Monday, Bleeding Cool is reporting that Wizard World has banned Rob Granito from attending future conventions.