Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog developed Ghost Rider when Marvel Comics was hungry for new ideas. Combining the popular culture interests of stunt racing and black magic, the character was a massive hit during the 1970′s, while DC Comics experienced similar success with their supernatural hero Swamp Thing.
Ghost Rider dropped out of favor until Marvel Comics created a new version of the spirit of vengeance featuring the popular artwork of Mark Texiera. This prompted a resurgence of Ghost Rider involving spin-offs, variant covers, action figures and more. This too ran its course and after several attempts to bring him back again, Ghost Rider finally found a new following in the grindhouse-style comic by Jason Aaron (highly recommended).
In 2007, a feature film starring Nic Cage was released that again prompted plenty of merchandising from toys to clothing and video games. A rather dubious-looking sequel opens next week.
In the meantime, Gary Friedrich has claimed that he owned the creative rights to Ghost Rider. I had the good fortune to meet Gary at a convention in Charlotte, NC where he was selling a modest display of trade paperbacks, prints and what-not. Gary was pleasant and signed my copy of Essential Ghost Rider that he sold at cost.
Now backed by Disney, Marvel has won a lawsuit with Friedrich and is demanding $17 grand from the creator. This continues a precedence set in a similar lawsuit with Marv Wolfman over ownership of Blade. While this may be legally sound, it strikes me as underhanded and petty to not only refute Friedrich’s claim but also demand money from an elderly man who is basically penniless.
So if you happen to see the Ghost Rider film or buy a Ghost Rider comic book, you may want to float some dough over to Gary because he’ll need it (still looking for contact info).
The final judgement has been handed down in the long running Gary Friedrich vs Marvel (Ghost Rider) case, and now we know the full amount that Friedrich owes Marvel. That’s right, Marvel, a company that stands to make millions of dollars from the upcoming Ghost Rider II movie, and is paying Nicholas Cage millions to portray a character that Friedrich created, now wants money from Friedrich – in specific $17,000.