Gary Friedrich, co-creator of Ghost Rider, recently lost his longtime battle against Marvel for theatrical character rights and restitution of profits from 2008’s Ghost Rider. The court ruled in Marvel’s favor twice in also demanding Friedrich pay $17,000 for prints he’s sold at shows. In addition, he is no longer allowed to say that he’s the creator of Ghost Rider for financial gain. How does Friedrich earning a bit of income from a true statement hurt Marvel? The obvious answer is, IT DOESN’T.
Marvel Comics makes millions and Disney billions, yet they want to hurt the unemployed Friedrich by making him pay what’s pocket change to them? Marvel will soon learn that $17,000 is not worth their reputation. Many fans are planning to boycott Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the movie sequel out next week. While this may not put a dent in the box office, it will certainly have long reaching effects when these same fans stop buying comics. I know quite a few people who are planning to drop all Marvel titles from their pull files.
If this ruling sticks, it could cripple Friedrich, and if this ruling sticks, it has the potential to upset the income of many more.
“Getting original art has become a personal tradition when I go to cons. It’s one of my favorite parts!” Ryan Dalton, one of my Twitter lovelies, tweets a sentiment shared by many con goers. However, wth the court’s ruling, we may be seeing the end of such treats.
I have a Jeremy Haun Batman piece hanging above my desk. I hope to one day have a collection of X-Men and the best of DC’s women drawn by a variety of my favorite artists. If the creator of a character cannot profit from signing anything but officially licensed items, how long before freelance artists aren’t allowed to profit from drawing characters they didn’t create?
From the mouth of one of Marvel’s own, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Marvel certainly has the power to shut down Friedrich but shouldn’t they be responsible for taking care of their own? Friedrich undoubtedly should be considered one of their own. He created a character that Marvel is profitting from and while I understand “work for hire” contracts, Marvel shouldn’t be able to toss aside creators like they did with Dave Cockrum and Jack Kirby.
I have said for many years that I’m a Marvel girl through and through but now I say it with shame. Perhaps I should instead say that I’m an X-Men and Spider-Man girl, or that I adore Kirby, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (I really do!). It definitely wasn’t a greedy corporation that captured my interest but it will be them who loses it.
Congratulations on shackling the imaginations of your creators, Marvel. Spirit of Vengeance indeed.
Jen is working on a young adult urban fantasy novel called Slacker Heroes and a collection of pop culture essays. She makes room in her heart for both Bobby Drake and Batman. You can catch her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
A message from Gary Friedrich, who plans to appeal this ruling:
Since the various news agencies and websites have reported the ruling against me on my claims against Marvel in the Ghost Rider lawsuit, and the assesment of a $17,000 judgment against me and my company instead, I have read an amazing amount of comments in my support on the internet, and have received many messages of support directly. Although the reports of my employment situation and financial difficulties as well as problems with my health are unfortunately true, I want to let everyone in the comic book world, especially my supporters and fans of the Ghost Rider character which I invented, created, and wrote, that I am going to appeal the Court’s ruling and continue to fight this as long as I am able and that your support of me means more than you will ever know. I have heard your voices. I thank you with alll my heart, and I appreciate your thoughts and best wishes as I soldier on.
Feel free to keep in touch with me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again and God bless you.