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 propaganda rag 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.
Marvel Comics Chief Creative Officer (CCO) Joe Quesada and Publisher Dan Buckley spoke to Comic Book Resources. They were wanted to address the controversy concerning Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich. He tried suing Marvel for a percentage of the money made from the first Ghost Rider movie. The movie grossed over $225 million. Of that, Friedrich didn’t receive a penny. Marvel counter-sued Friedrich for selling unauthorized, unlicensed Ghost Rider prints at comic book conventions. It’s how Friedrich has been making a living. Thanks to this heartless counter-suit, Friedrich now owes Marvel $17,000. It’s money he doesn’t have.
As many people in the industry know, I’ve been deeply involved with the Hero Initiative since its inception. It’s a cause that is very near and dear to my heart and the only organization of its kind that I’m involved with. Regardless of my role as CCO, I have never nor would I ever stand in the way of someone receiving much-needed help, and I don’t get involved with Hero’s decisions on how to help. As a matter of fact, when all of this Ghost Rider stuff broke, I immediately checked with Hero’s President, Jim McLauchlin, to see if Gary was in need of assistance, and Jim informed me that up until that point Gary had not applied for any. My understanding is that Hero has since been in touch.
What is the Hero Initiative?
Hero Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators in need. It’s a wonderful organization doing outstanding work. Joe Quesada, CCO and the public face of Marvel Comics, is also on the board of Hero Initiative. According to the interview, before Marvel counter-sued Gary Friedrich, he needed no assistance from Hero Initiative. Since the lawsuit, he’s now in financial need and is evidently receiving financial assistance from Hero Initiative.
Joe Quesada is playing both sides here. On one hand, he’s the public persona of the cooperation causing financial ruin to an elderly comic book creator. On the other hand, he’s also on the board of the Hero Initiative. It’s an organization dedicated to helping comic book creators in financial need.
The fact that Joe Quesada is on the board of Hero Initiative and is also working on the behalf of Marvel/Disney to quash the negative publicity caused by their treatment of an elderly comic book creator, seems ridiculous.
This is a photo of Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, at a comic book convention. He has a table where he’s selling autographed Ghost Rider prints for $20. It’s how, until very recently, he made a living. That came to a stop when Marvel/Disney counter-sued Mr. Friedrich over ownership rights to the Ghost Rider property. Though Mr. Friedrich created Ghost Rider, he was never adequately compensated for his creation. Since he was working at the time for Marvel Comics as a freelancer, he got nothing more than his regular paycheck for creating Ghost Rider.
When Mr. Friedrich created Ghost Rider in 1972, it was for a twenty cent comic book. His compensation reflected this. It didn’t account for anything other than a comic book.
In 2007, Ghost Rider was turned into a major motion picture starring Nicolas Cage. It went on to gross over $225 million worldwide. Of that sum, Mr. Friedrich didn’t get a dime.
Gary Friedrich tried to sue and it backfired
Mr. Friedrich took Marvel/Disney and their partner companies to court over proceeds from the motion picture based on his creation. Not only did he lose the lawsuit, the judge ordered he pay Marvel/Disney $17,000 in damages over copyright infringement. The Ghost Rider prints sold by Mr. Friedrich at various comic book conventions were unauthorized and unlicensed by Marvel Comics. The reason he sold unlicensed, unauthorized Ghost Rider prints is that you cannot buy licensed Ghost Rider prints. Marvel Comics does not sell them.
So not only does Mr. Friedrich not get a penny of the motion picture money made from his creation, he now has to pay $17,000 he does not have to a company worth billions of dollars. All because he had the audacity to create and sell prints Marvel Comics had no interest in creating and selling themselves. Ain’t America great? I’m so glad we have a legal system in place that allows multi-billion dollar corporations like Marvel/Disney to protect themselves from people like Gary Friedrich and his $20 comic book convention prints.
Mr. Friedrich is broke. He doesn’t have the money to pay Marvel/Disney.