Writer ordered to pay Marvel $17,000Written by Jim Beard | | email@example.com
In a ruling that has divided industry opinion, writer Gary Friedrich has been ordered by a judge to pay Marvel Comics $17,000 in damages stemming from his long-time selling of items related to Ghost Rider, a character he co-created for the company in 1972. Friedrich has long claimed that he owns the rights to the character, now starring in his second feature film, and took Marvel to court over the issue. But the tide has turned against the writer, who claims he is destitute and penniless, with this new ruling.
Marvel claims that the judgment comes as a way to dispense with Friedrich’s suit and their own countersuit by having the writer agree to the settlement and to also have him sign away any claim to Ghost Rider and cease
advertising himself as the sole creator of the character. Marvel says it has no issue with Friedrich promoting his “creative association” with the character, but that the writer must not claim sole creation and sell only official, licensed Ghost Rider material.
Of course, comics fans and professionals fall into myriad, divisive camps over the situation. There are the knee-jerk “evil corporation versus the poor little guy” opinions and the “Marvel’s only protecting their rights” people and everyone else, who falls somewhere in-between. Above all else, it’s definitely a question of what’s legal … and what’s right.
On one hand, yes, Marvel’ is protecting its properties; no surprise there. Yes, it could let Friedrich off the hook — though he sued them first — but that then sets a precedent for every single writer and artist of decades past to demand their own settlements to characters they developed under work-for-hire scenarios. On the other hand, many creators make a significant portion of their living by exhibiting at conventions and autographing for a fee and selling sketches of characters they don’t own.
Fortunately, it seems as if comic companies would like to ensure that such professionals can continue to do so without fear of legal trouble. Ultimately, it also seems likely that further work must be done on developing a middle-ground where companies and creators can meet and work out what’s right and fair.