I have a friend who is REALLY into Ghost Rider. I never really got into the character so I asked him one day, "Why are so you into Ghost Rider?" and he responded almost right away, deadpan. "Dude, HIS SKULL IS ON FIRE!" and then it clicked, Ghost Rider is pretty cool.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance comes out this week. The movie being a sequel to the first Ghost Rider film starring Nicholas Cage, that made almost $230 million dollars in the box office.
Based upon the comic character that originally appeared in Marvel Spotlight #7 way back in 1972. Since then, he's been one of Marvel's most well known characters, It's hard to forget a guy who has a flaming skull and rides a motorcycle clad in leather and chains and looks so badass.
Though there was some dispute throughout the years, Ghost Rider was created by Gary Friedrich. Call him an unsung hero, everyone knew the character he created but most people wouldn't know Friedrich if they saw his name or him in person.
Sometimes people just assume these characters have always been around, also most people don't really care about the person who created them, understandably so. People enjoyed his character for years. Even to this day, he plays a big part in the Marvel universe and spawned two huge million dollar Hollywood films.
I've been attending comic conventions most of my life, and I remember the first time I saw Gary. He was very unassuming, but warm and charming. Most people would walk past the table assuming he was no big deal, but if you stopped you'd see that this was the guy who created Ghost Rider. You would never know it unless you stopped and looked at his table and talked to him or he told you.
The man who created this hugely important and popular character, is sitting next to guys drawing crudely done pornographic cartoon characters at shows around the country. Trying his hardest at 68 years old to try and sell anything he can to make money and support himself and his elderly wife. He tries to make a living off of this character he created, something all comic creators aspire to and mostly fail to, sadly.
The comic industry has this awful habit of screwing over the very people who have shaped it through out the years and created the content. It's happened with Jack Kirby, Will Eisner and Alan Moore and countless others. It's shameful and embarrassing and pretty terrifying.
Sadly, Gary Friedrich has become yet another legend who has suffered an attack from the worst side of comics, the business end.
After unsuccessfully trying to sue Marvel, Hasbro Toys and Columbia Pictures for using his character and not getting proper compensation for it, if any, he was hit with a counter-suit by Marvel that basically is making him pay $17,000 back to Marvel for selling Ghost Rider comics and related images for years without their permission. A character he created. Another part of the settlement, is that Gary is no longer allowed to refer to himself as the creator of Ghost Rider or try and make a living selling Ghost Rider related items. Is that a shunning? It's cruel and unusual punishment.
It hurts thinking that people can sleep at night thinking this is the right course of action, to pull a stunt like this on a 68-year-old man who is by no means well off or can afford to pay back all that money.
But with bad news comes good news, people who read comics are part of a huge community. We care about what happens to one another and support and try our hardest to help out those who provided us with countless hours of entertainment.
Steve Niles, comic writer and the man leading the rally for creator owned comics and DIY ethics in has put together a fund for Gary and his family to help him at this awful time. Check out the page and see if you can help out, every bit counts!