As some may be aware, back in 2007, the creator of Ghost Rider sued Marvel and all parties involved with the Ghost Rider movie. The ruling has finally been handed down by the judge, and it is not good.
The public battle over Watchmen has been in everyone's ears lately, and this is just a tiny little pebble in the pond. I could go on and on about Watchmen and Alan Moore and that whole debacle, but this situation between Gary Friedrich and Marvel makes the Watchmen debacle look like an amiable handshake and a parting of ways. I am all for the creation of any new work. Anyone should be aloud to express themselves as they see fit. It's why we have art. Copyright shouldn't factor into it. It's all self expression. But anything that penalizes creativity, and fines a person for doing so is abhorrent. The fact that a corporation is stepping in and telling a creator "they did not create something" that they clearly did, makes no logical sense. And the act of creation should protect them under copyright to begin with. NO JUDGE should be able to take that away from an artist. Gary Friedrich created Ghost Rider and he should be aloud to create derivative works and mass produce them. This makes just as much sense as me telling children in art school they are no longer able to paint with their fingers because I have copyrighted suns with smiley-faces on them.
What makes it worse is that Gary Friedrich has been a silent steward of the Ghost Rider license for decades. He sat on it while Marvel over-saturated the market with his character. Back in the early 90s there wasn't a book on the stands that didn't have Ghost Rider's face on it. And he never decided to sue for a single penny. But after he saw the film, he decided to flex his muscles a little. Marvel's lawyers said, "We can't have that! The creator of Cloak and Dagger might get ideas!" And so they have gone after him full force, when he was doing THEM a favor the whole time. Bad form, Marvel. I'm sure they made plenty off of that character with all of the millions of books he sold for Marvel in the 90s.
I try not to get political on this page, but creator's rights are near and dear to my heart. And what Marvel is doing to Gary Friedrich is appalling. If you can think of any way to help, the medium will be a better place for it. We forever stand on a precipice of corporatocracy in the realm of artistic expression. And comics are fast becoming a job and not art in the eyes of the top brass. It may have always been this way, but now it's going to the courts and these decisions can change the way our culture looks at intellectual property and copyright as a whole. The fact that Marvel is suing to bar Gary Friedrich from saying he created the character in the first place is stunningly absurd. And that they can take $17,000 from him for making figures of his creation is also trying and terrifying. This is a dangerous precedent. And should Friedrich not win the appeal, it's going to be tough from some artists to make a living doing sketches of characters they have worked on. Hopefully, Friedrich will appeal this. Raise awareness about this cause. Show him, and the world how important this is. Try and make a stand where and however you can. I really hope Friedrich wins ultimately and he makes an example out of Marvel instead of the other way around.
Gary Friedrich's fans and the community in general have been coming out of the woodwork to help pay the cost. Steve Niles had a donation page, but now it's simply a thank you page. Friedrich says he will indeed be appealing the decision, so this fight is not over yet.