Ghost Rider's creator battles on against Marvel to regain rights

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

When last we left them, Gary Friedrich, creator of Ghost Rider, was doing epic, litigious battle with the titans of Marvel comics. It seemed as though all was lost for Friedrich. He'd lost all rights to his own character and, to add insult to the injury, had a $17K fine dropped in his lap.

Can Friedrich escape the poorhouse? Only one way to find out—read on, gentle reader!

All right ... departing from the classic comics purple prose, Friedrich has now officially filed an appeal in the courts, and it's all coming down to two major elements—a matter of doubt as to rights and an occurrence of signing a binding document under duress.

As to the former, Friedrich's lawyers are pointing toward a story written by Stan Lee and drawn by the recently deceased Moebius. That Silver Surfer tale (which was recently reprinted) still seemed to fall under the rights of the creators themselves even though the comic was originally printed in the '70s, when, supposedly, there was no creator-owned content at Marvel. Friedrich's argument is that, if Lee and Moebius can maintain rights to that Silver Surfer title, then Friedrich should still retain rights to the character of Ghost Rider.

Whether that's true remains to be seen. It may be that Lee/Moebius retained rights to the story but not the characters, which would make this instance irrelevant to the case with Friedrich.

As to duress, well, it's certainly not unheard of for writers to be pressured into signing an agreement being told that, if they don't, they'll "never work in this town again." Maybe that's exactly what happened to Friedrich, but proving such an accusation is another matter entirely. What is a fact, however, is that Friedrich received no work through Marvel after he signed on that proverbial dotted line. Not exactly a great situation, no matter how you slice it.

We're not saying Friedrich hasn't got a prayer, we're just saying it's probably going to take more than this to win a battle with the most powerful comics publisher in all the land.

(via Bleeding Cool)