By Aaron Christensen
Rob Prior was always afraid he’d lose the use of his dominant hand. That paranoia inspired him to do something that would change the course of his life: as a child, he would often have his right arm tied behind his back for extended periods of time, forcing him to learn how to use his left hand for everyday tasks like writing and personal hobbies like painting.
Art would eventually evolve from a mere pastime to an extremely successful career. Now, with several decades of work under his belt, the ambidextrous painter has been able to do a lot of really impressive stuff with that unique talent. Prior is known for his collaborations with Marvel, DC and Image Comics, along with his work on “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Spawn” and Heavy Metal Magazine, for which recently became Vice President of Creative and now co-owns.
Prior had never been to Utah before his appearance at Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience in April 2014. His incredible art and friendly disposition made him a fan favorite at FanX, earning him an invitation to bring his photo-realistic paintings back to the Beehive State as a featured artist in September. Prior helped kick off Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 by doing one of his signature “speed paintings” during the press conference held on September 4. While many of the other celebrity guests were being introduced by event co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, Prior popped in some earbuds and quickly – yet beautifully – painted his unorthodox take on the villainous Joker. Upon completion, he signed the canvas and donated it to a young girl with special needs.
In an interview conducted during Salt Lake Comic Con 2014, Prior said that he has kept himself busy in the time between trips to Utah, working extensively on gallery art and performing on stage with his good friend, rapper Tech N9ne. He also mentioned that he has upcoming collaborations scheduled with ultra-popular bands including OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons. On top of all that, he’s directing a movie called “Whisper” next year and trying to keep his business partner, the ever-comical Adam Simon, under control.
Throughout the interview, Simon occasionally popped in to make a goofy comments, at one point becoming very distracted by cosplayers who were walking past the booth. “Oh, dude!” Simon exclaimed. “Did you see the guy with the Iron Man suit? Holy freaking crap! Like, that guy’s so amazing!”
Simon took particular interest in a man who, to the untrained eye, appeared to be dressed in regular clothes. “Look at this guy! He’s amazing! He’s got an amazing beard. I want that beard.”
Meanwhile, back at the booth, much of Prior’s new character art was on sale, from stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Star Wars and his popular “Game of Thrones” line. Prior mentioned some of his most recent additions to his jaw-dropping library. “Pop-art-wise, I just finished a Stephen Amell painting for ‘Arrow,’ Harry Potter, Benedict Cumberbatch… Those are [some] of my newest… My Universal Monster line is another one that’s a big one for me.”
Later on in the convention, Prior took time out of his busy schedule to personally deliver an autographed ‘Arrow’ poster to Amell, who was also a special guest at the convention.
If Prior has anything to say about it, September won’t be his last trip to the Beehive State. In fact, he’d prefer to keep coming back for a very long time. “Salt Lake Comic Con is the best comic con in the world,” he said. “I love this show! I will do this show for the rest of my life until Dan [Farr] goes, ‘You probably shouldn’t do this show anymore because you’re 97. You have to stop coming now.’”