Thursday, December 29, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary: Gary Friedrich Loses Claim to Ghost Rider Copyright

Sad news in New York City today as the creator of Ghost Rider Gary Friedrich lost his latest bid to reclaim the rights to the character from Marvel.

Friedrich created a character named Hell-Rider for Skywald in 1971 before taking the Ghost Rider idea to Marvel in 1972 with an assist from Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog. When the Nic Cage GR movie came out in 2007 crediting "Marvel" as the creator (how can an inhuman corporate entity "create" anything? Ask U.S. copyright law.), Friedrich sued for rights and compensation.

Friedrich is in a similar situation as the Kirby legacy since the matter revolves around a judge's interpretation of the work-for-hire law under which Friedrich was paid for the stories he wrote for Marvel comics. There is another Ghost Rider coming out in 2012 from Marvel Entertainment and it will be subject to the Marvel Boycott just like the upcoming Avengers film.

from the Associated Press story:

Comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment owns the rights to the Ghost Rider character in the fiery form that originated in the early 1970s, a federal judge ruled Wednesday as she rejected the claims of a former Marvel writer seeking to cash in on lucrative movie rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest tossed out 4-year-old claims brought by Gary Friedrich, who said he created the motorcycle-driving Ghost Rider with the skeletal head that sometimes had fire blazing from it. A Ghost Rider of the 1950s and '60s was a Western character who rode a horse.

The judge said Friedrich gave up all ownership rights when he signed checks containing language relinquishing all rights to the predecessor companies of Marvel Entertainment LLC.

"The law is clear that when an individual endorses a check subject to a condition, he accepts that condition," the judge wrote.

Forrest said her finding made it unnecessary to "travel down the rabbit hole" to decide whether the character was created separate and apart from Marvel, whether the company hired Friedrich to create the character and whether he had thoughts about what rights he wanted to retain from the outset.

She said he also signed an agreement with Marvel in 1978 relinquishing rights in exchange for the possibility of additional future freelance work. He had worked for Marvel prior to that year as both an employee and as a freelance writer.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary: Fantagraphics to Publish Secret History

Kind of a Hanukkah gift. Fantagraphics is publishing The Secret History of the Marvel Universe: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman's Empire in 2012. The book is written by Canada's own Blake Bell and Golden Age Marvel scholar Dr. Michael J. Vassallo. Here is the blurb from Amazon:

The untold story of the House of Ideas.

Marvel Comics is home to such legendary super-heroes as Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, all of whom have spun box office gold in the 21st century. But Marvel Comics has a secret history hidden in the shadows of these well-known franchises.

The Secret History of Marvel Comics digs back to the 1930s when Marvel Comics wasn't just a comic-book producing company. Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman had tentacles into a publishing world that might have made that era’s conservative American parents lynch him on his front porch. Marvel was but a small part of Goodman’s publishing empire, which had begun years before he published his first comic book. Goodman mostly published lurid and sensationalistic story books (known as “pulps”) and magazines, featuring sexually-charged detective and romance short fiction, and celebrity gossip scandal sheets. And artists like Jack Kirby, who was producing Captain America for eight-year-olds, were simultaneously dipping their toes in both ponds.

The Secret History of Marvel Comics tells this parallel story of 1930s/40s Marvel Comics sharing offices with those Goodman publications not quite fit for children. The book also features a comprehensive display of the artwork produced for Goodman’s other enterprises by Marvel Comics artists such as Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Alex Schomburg, Bill Everett, Al Jaffee, and Dan DeCarlo, plus the very best pulp artists in the field, including Norman Saunders, John Walter Scott, Hans Wesso, L.F. Bjorklund, and Marvel Comics #1 cover artist Frank R. Paul. Goodman’s magazines also featured cover stories on celebrities such as Jackie Gleason, Elizabeth Taylor, Liberace, and Sophia Loren, as well as contributions from famous literary and social figures such as Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and L. Ron Hubbard.

These rare pieces of comic art, pulp and magazine history will open the door to Marvel Comics’ unseen history.

This is your seasonal reminder to Boycott Marvel! Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RIP Joe Simon, 1913-2011

Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America with Jack Kirby, has died.

Simon was one of the last "Golden Age" U.S. comics creators still living.

Very few of these men nand women are still with us.

A very short list:

Joe Kubert
Carmine Infantino
Stan Lee
Marc Swayze (co-created Mary Marvel)
Steve Ditko
Al Plastino
Fred Kida
Bob Fujitani
Leonard Starr
Ramona Fradon
Shelly Moldoff
Murphy Anderson
Irwin Hasen
John Severin
Jack Davis
Al Feldstein
Jules Feiffer
Allen Bellman (Timely/Capt. America artist)
and Canada's Gerald Lazare