Gary Friedrich and Marvel Comics settle over Ghost Rider differences

Comic book writer Gary Friedrich and Marvel Comics (Disney) have settled their differences over ownership of the Ghost Rider character.

From Bleeding Cool, the comic book community’s website of record:

In a letter filed Friday to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest by Friedrich’s lawyer, Charles Kramer, it is said that his client and Marvel ”have amicably agreed to resolve all claims between, among, and against all parties.” Deadlines for the case have been suspended pending a final settlement. The trial had been slated to start December 16th.

Hopefully this means Friedrich is walking away with some money for his troubles. Marvel Comics really showed its ass with its treatment of Friedrich, going after him for unlicensed Ghost Rider prints he was selling at various comic book conventions.

It was a ridiculous thing to do. First of all, the man created Ghost Rider. Without him, there would be no Ghost Rider. Second of all, anyone who has ever been to a comic book convention knows that it’s rife with copyright infringement. You have artists doing commission sketches for fans, many going for hundreds of dollars, based on characters they don’t have the legal rights to. You have vendors selling prints and other items featuring licensed characters without obtaining a license from the copyright owner.

Technically, it’s all copyright infringement. To only go after Friedrich was vindictive and mean.

If you have a problem with 'How I Met Your Mother' being at San Diego Comic-Con, blame the IRS

The San Diego Comic-Con is going on this weekend. It’s the country’s largest, annual comic book convention. At least it’s supposed to be. Contrary to what the name implies, every year the event is a little less about comic books and a little more about stuff that doesn’t have to do with comic books, mainly TV shows and movies.

Sometimes the TV shows and movies promoted at San Diego Comic-Con make sense. They’re either related to the medium of comic books in some discernible way, such as the newest X-Men movie, or they feature a genre popular with the same type of nerds that dig comic books, for example, the upcoming Godzilla movie. Other times, the TV shows and movies promoted at San Diego Comic-Con don’t have anything at all to do with comic books or geek culture, such as the TV show How I Met Your Mother.

I’ve watched one or two episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and I can confidently say that the show has nothing to do with comics or comics culture. So what’s it doing at San Diego Comic-Con?

Remember when the story about the IRS and the Tea Party started making the rounds online and on Fox News? Basically, various Tea Party groups were applying to the IRS for tax-exempt status based on the criteria that they were social welfare organizations. Who knew having members protest with signage showing Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache made your group a social welfare organization?

Agents at the IRS began giving extra scrutiny to these applications because the Tea Party is a political group, not a social welfare organization. They did this either on their own prerogative or under the personal direction of Barack Obama, it depends one who you believe. I only bring this issue up because San Diego Comic-Con is a non-profit organization exempt from all taxes. They claim to be a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and the related popular art forms.

If a TV show like How I Met Your Mother is related to comic books, the San Diego Comic-Con desperately needs to do some more educating, because I’m not seeing it.

The real controversy involving the IRS and the Tea Party isn’t that Tea Party groups were given extra scrutiny by IRS agents. No, it’s that most groups requestion tax exempt status aren’t given enough scrutiny. Extra scrutiny should be the default level of scrutiny when asking to be exempt from paying taxes, whether it’s a political group claiming to be a social welfare organization or an entertainment convention claiming to be an educational corporation.

When you get out of paying your fair share of taxes by lying about what you are and what you do, it’s cheating. If you cheat on your taxes, you can go to jail. Just ask Wesley Snipes.

If Hollywood ever gets around to answering the pubic’s demand and makes a sequel to White Men Can’t Jump, I guess Snipes can go to the San Diego Comic-Con to promote it.

DragonCon finally cuts ties with accused child predator Ed Kramer

Remember when organizers of DragonCon, the popular science fiction and fantasy convention held every Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, said that they couldn’t sever ties with accused sexual molester of young boys Edward Kramer? Yeah, about that…

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Five of six founding members of the company said in a statement Monday that they’d merged the old company, DragonCon/ACE, into a new one, Dragon Con, Inc. — giving Kramer cash for his shares.

Kramer is facing child-molestation charges in Gwinnett County. He was extradited from Connecticut where he faced similar charges.

Though Kramer was no longer responsible for running the convention, he continued to earn dividends from its proceeds due to his 34 percent ownership.

According to a statement by the new company, “Edward Kramer, who has not had any role in managing or organizing the convention since 2000, was offered cash for his shares in the old company. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.”

So for the record, they were able to somehow create a new company to run the convention and keep Kramer out of it. If only this remedy had been thought of earlier. Oh, that’s right, it was.

This is what they said earlier this year on Facebook:

The idea proposed of dissolving the company and reincorporating has been thoroughly investigated and is not possible at this point. Legally, we can’t just take away his shares. We are unfortunately limited in our options and responses as we remain in active litigation.

So there you go, what was once impossible is now possible. Good for DragonCon and good for the people who enjoy attending, but don’t want their money going to a sexual deviant who uses the money to avoid justice.

Now that organizers of DragonCon have removed Kramer from their coffers, maybe now they can focus on coming up with a good way of apologizing to author Nancy A. Collins, the organizer of the DragonCon boycott.

She was right, they were wrong. The organizers of DragonCon owe her an apology, and the rest of us owe her our thanks.

Update: Now that DragonCon has finally done the right thing, Nancy A. Collins has called off the boycott.