Aaron Shaps was kind enough to share with us his thoughts on the Rob Granito situation, where Granito (bottom right corner in the image below) is being accused of artistic fraud. There is a large amount of evidence to support this accusation, and it has made waves throughout the industry this week. All thoughts expressed below belong to Shaps. If you’re a pro we want to hear what you have to say!
By now, if you’re a fan of comic books with access to the internets and particularly the Facebook, you’ve probably heard the epic, tragicomic tale of the very appropriately named Rob Granito. I won’t rehash the whole exhausting affair here…there’s no need, as you can now find dozens of different articles all over the net, not to mention the Facebook page “Robert Granito is a Fraud,” which will probably have more than 3,500 members by the time you read this; what I will do is quickly relate my personal stake in this epic clusterfuck before making an appeal to the man himself.
In a nutshell, back in 2006, my studio had the table directly to Granito’s right in Artist Alley at the Wizard Chicago convention. My friend Mike’s artwork caught Granito’s eye, and he commissioned him to do a series of illustrations featuring some of Batman’s most infamous rogues, which he claimed were for a friend of his who collected such things. And he paid Mike well. He could afford to, since he was making money hand over fist selling “his” prints to a jaw-dropping number of people.
Flash forward to this past weekend, when the shit volcano that had been rumbling for a decade finally erupted. I received a phone call from Mike, who directed me to Granito’s online store. There, for the low, low price of $39, you could purchase a Granito print featuring a group of Batman villains. They were, of course, Mike’s drawings. How long had he been selling those prints under the pretense that it was his own work? And even more important, how many had he sold? How much money had he made? I would guess quite a bit, since I witnessed him make at least $2,500 that weekend at the Chicago con. And I stress the “at least” part.
Needless to say, Mike was pretty pissed. And so was I. Mike is one of my best buds in the world, like a brother to me, really, and you simply don’t fuck with my friends like that. Truth be told, Granito is lucky it was Mark Waid and Ethan Van Sciver who confronted him at MegaCon, because had Mike and I and the rest of our crew been there, in the heat of the moment, with my blood boiling and my adrenaline and testosterone surging, things would have probably gotten physical. I know you don’t know me…but I know me…so trust me when I say that things could have escalated very quickly. And if his “bodyguard” would have gone for the piece he allegedly carries…well, to paraphrase the immortal Jesus Quintana, I would have snatched it away from him, shoved it up his ass, and pulled the fucking trigger until it went “click.” Did I mention Mike and I were pretty pissed?
We were not alone. Not by a long shot.
By now, Granito has been banned from most of the major shows in North America. In all likelihood, the jig is finally up, and he will either have to find another scheme, or, heaven forbid, get a respectable job, in order to put food on the table. So why even write this? It’s simple: I want to hear from Granito himself. I want his side of the story. I want to know why he did what he did, and how in the world he thought he’d never get caught. I want to know how it started, and when he knew it was all about to come crumbling down. I am curious, I admit, perhaps most of all because we really have no idea who the real Rob Granito is. All we know is that he’s some guy with a bullshit resume peddling other people’s work online and at conventions. So I have already offered to help Granito craft an open apology letter, provided he personally apologizes to Mike ahead of time. And I would be more than willing to put him in touch with some of my friends in the press for an interview…I know they’d treat him fairly, although obviously tough questions need to be asked.
In the end, Granito will be remembered as a cautionary tale for other would-be con artists, and of course as a new verb. And he might very well wind up serving time in a federal prison for his crimes. But I want to know the story of Granito the man. I really, truly do. So how about it, Rob? How about one last curtain call before you become a footnote in comic book convention history? How about telling your version of the story…the real story, not the one where you were commissioned to paint a portrait for the President and Chief, and where you worked with Dwayne McDuffie, but the honest-to-goodness truth?
– Aaron Shaps
Aaron Shaps is a comic book writer whose past work includes: The Phantom Generations, Zeroids: The Return, General Jack Cosmo and the Vampire Men of Kothos, and General Jack Cosmo Presents.
For more on the Rob Granito situation, click here.
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