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Ghost Rider Blues

So, maybe you're thinking of going to the movies this weekend, and catching the new GHOST RIDER flick. Hey, why not? Choppers, demons, plenty of action and eye-popping special effects, and Nicholas Cage with his head on fire, this movie has it all.

What it doesn't have, alas, is a dime for the writer who created the character.

Gary Friedrich is reportedly penniless, sick, and about to lose his house... and he's just lost the lawsuit he filed, hoping to get back rights to the character, or at least some portion of the millions that Marvel is making off him. In fact, just to salt the wounds, the court ruled he owes Marvel $17,000 for selling unlicensed prints of the Ghost Rider. Here's the scoop:


So... see the movie, or don't see the movie, that's up to you. But whether you do or you don't, why not donate an amount equal to the cost of admission to the writer without whom there would BE no Ghost Rider:


FWIW, long long ago in a kingdom by the sea, I started as a comics fan... indeed, as a Marvel fanboy, with letters published in FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, and other Marvel titles. I never much cared for the Ghost Rider in the modern incarnation (motorcycle, head on fire, and all that... the Dread Dormammu from Dr. Strange was always my favorite 'hey, his head's on fire' character), preferring the older western hero who went by the same name). And while I had and have lots of friends in the comics industry, I don't believe I have met Gary Friedrich.

None of which lessens my sympathy for him. In the summer of 1971, fresh out of Northwestern with a master's degree in journalism, an Alley Award for my fanzine writing, and my first two short story sales under my belt, I applied for a job as a writer at Marvel Comics. I got as far as a meeting with Roy Thomas at Marvel's offices in New York, but they did not hire me. If they had, who knows what characters I might have created? If they had, who knows what movies might have been made about those characters forty years later?

So when I read about Gary Friedrich, and others like him, I cannot help but think, "there, but for the grace of the Dread Dormammu, goes me."

There are lots of talented writers in the world. Not all of them have been as lucky as I have. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Send the guy some bucks, true believers.


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Feb. 17th, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
I just sent out a tweet of this article. Thanks for tipping us off to this tragedy, George.
Jeanine Black
Feb. 17th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
Not cool
Just tweeted and posted on Facebook as well. Not cool. Not cool, at all.
Feb. 17th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
Jacob Wayne Moore
Feb. 17th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
Balanced argument
I think we can all agree that his plight is awful. What I have to disagree is that Marvel is a blood-sucking villain in this. There's more to than just Friedrich's side. Please put up a balanced view of what is occurring.
Feb. 17th, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Balanced argument
Well, Marvel won the case, so clearly there is another side -- legally, at least. The court upheld their rights.

The countersuit, though -- that was just nastiness. Okay, they don't have to share their millions with the creator. Do they really have to smash his piggy bank and take his nickles too?
(no subject) - vandersock - Feb. 18th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - terraprime - Feb. 17th, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Balanced argument - Will Gardner - Feb. 17th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aulayan - Feb. 18th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Balanced argument - slthlvschnk - Feb. 17th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - usekh - Feb. 18th, 2012 12:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 17th, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
I wonder if the Haven Foundation can help him get back on his feet? It was founded specifically to help artists and writers. Check it out and see if you think it can help and if so point Mr Friedrich towards it.

Feb. 17th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
I was already planning to not see this movie because I can't stand Nicholas Cage's lack of acting (not even my beloved Sam Elliott could drag me into the first movie). But now I have a moral high ground reason for not seeing this movie, while still giving proper compensation to the creator! Everybody wins.

Except Nicholas Cage. I like to pretend he cries himself to sleep at night in his piles of money because he *knows* he can't act. But I digress.

I'll spread the word around my fellow geeky friends. Though, knowing most of them, they've probably beaten me to the punch. :) (I'm okay with this, so long as the punch is aimed at bad actors and corrupt corporations.)
Feb. 17th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
ugh seriously. i downloaded it *shhh* and watched it, and pretty much the same thing. even sam couldnt save it. he was the ONLY good thing about it, and they killed that with that horrible scene with the new ghost rider and the old ghost rider riding off to save the day. i can NOT stand nic cage. i will not give him a dime. the only reason i wasted space on my computer is i got it so my dad could watch it, being an old comic book fan himself, and he had missed it in the theaters because of his work schedule. i had entertained the idea of going to watch it since he cant *he passed away three years ago* but now... i'll save my money and send the cost of the ticket and popcorn to mr friedrich in memory of my dad.
(no subject) - roaming - Feb. 18th, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 17th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Short end.
Creators in comics have been getting the short end for a long, long time. It's why Image was originally born but Image turned out to be just as evil as the big two.
I decided to donate to Gary vs. go see this movie in the theatre. I may watch it when it hits HBO or one of the other pay channels but with the countersuit they brought against him ... I'm just not interested in doing the theatre thing. :(
Feb. 17th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
How horrible. As an aspiring comic artist stuff like this both angers and scares me.
Rebecca Murray
Feb. 18th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
I, for one, went digging for more info. GRRM is right; Marvel is acting like a blood-sucking fiend in this. Gotta love that "win at any cost" mentality of giant corporations. He sued for control of his creative rights and when he lost, Marvel force him to give up even his right as a creator to sell original art. Oh, but wait! The big-wigs of Marvel have helpfully pointed out that he can still sell his autograph on their licensed and over-commercialized crap... assuming he can scrape together a the money to buy some to sign after they force him to pay $17k for work he sold BEFORE THEY WON THE LAWSUIT!!!
Feb. 18th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC)
It sounded like a lost cause for Mr. Friedrich
Though I feel pretty bad for the guy, it seems pretty obvious to me that Marvel paid him to create Ghost Rider. It's not like Marvel is renting the character, they did pay him for it. It really is no different than if you develop something at 3M, it belongs to 3M. If you develop something at Microsoft, it' Microsoft's. Hell, Steve Job's was fired from Apple and he started the company!

As far as the Marvels counter lawsuit, they probably would have let him continue to sell his Ghost Rider prints had he not sued them, but since he did, they had to drop the hammer.
Feb. 18th, 2012 06:43 am (UTC)
Re: It sounded like a lost cause for Mr. Friedrich
No one "had to" do anything.

Someone made a choice.

Someone at Marvel. Someone at Disney, which now owns Marvel. An attorney trying to impress his bosses by being a hardass or "playing for keeps" or some such.

Someone made a choice.
Feb. 18th, 2012 01:19 am (UTC)
there is a special hell waiting for the powers that be at Marvel
Thanks for the heads up. I've sent a donation toGary that's not too much, but its the cost of the movie I won't see and the coke I won't drink during the movie.

Edited at 2012-02-18 01:20 am (UTC)
Feb. 18th, 2012 02:45 am (UTC)
Many artists sign horrible contracts because they need the money. So what happens a lot of the time is that these artists unwittingly sign over their own creations. Or even if they maintain the rights to characters while outside of working for large corporations anything they create while working for said corporation becomes the property of that corporation.
Which is not to say I agree with this sort of policy, but it does happen, and artists are usually on the short end of the stick.
Feb. 18th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
I feel more like sending him the $10.50 money for the movie ticket and being better off not seeing it because it probably ruins his character anyway.
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
That poor guy. I don't even like Ghost Rider, but I'm going to send him something.
Cintia Faria
Feb. 18th, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC)
Marvel is being dishonest with the intellectual work of Gary Friedrich. Marvel could have been reasonable and have reached an agreement, at least.

Sad !

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George R.R. Martin
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