Gary Friedrich and Marvel Comics settle over Ghost Rider differences

Gary Friedrich

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.

The face of copyright infringement

Gary Friedrich
Gary Friedrich

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.