February 14th, 2012

funny, webcomic, rich faber, john gallagher, Buzzboy

Creator Ownership Battle: Gary Friedrich

Here's a tale of caution, but maybe not the one you think I'm going to tell. Gary Friedrich has been in comics for some time, and was the initial writer, and I believe, co-creator of the character Ghost Rider. He sued Marvel Comics when the Nicolas Cage movie inexplicably made millions, claiming the rights reverted back to him at one point.

Gary lost. He lost big.

Not only did he lose against Marvel-- he lost the countersuit they filed, and now owes them $17,000 for the money he made selling prints of the ghost rider character. You can read in-depth analysis here, at Robot 6>>

Based upon a very capable legal review, it seems Marvel comics was in the right. The problem: This is the first time they have gone after a creator related to a character for selling said-character related items at a convention. 

Basically, this means that every time any artist EVER drew Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and Ghost Rider, and received money, a tip or a candy bar in exchange as a commission, they were breaking the law, and can be sued.

Again, it is within their right.

But I really, really hate bullies.

My friend Mike White is a police officer-- Green Lantern was the comic that inspired him to be one, and I really believe he never abused his authority when taking someone in. Could he get away with it? Probably. But did he? No.

This was a warning to any creator who feels he was wronged by a corporation as big as Marlvel/Disney: Mess with us, and we will break you. In this case $17,000 will literally break Mr. Friedrich financially.

Folks have been nice enough to support a fund to help out. Go here to help Gary>>

Now, here's my warning, and one I did not always heed. Companies are in business to make money, not take care of you. If you work for them, watch your butt, get a lawyer, and maybe even consider whether it is worth what you make to give up your own ideas. It may be. I have worked for several corporations, creating characters, writing stories, etc. I was paid well, and will never see a penny of royalties. But I knew that when I walked in. So there are no hard feelings, and there shouldn't be.

But what if I sold one of the six books at a show that I did for NASCAR? They may be able to stop me from doing that. Now, what if they sued me for some imaginary damages, and I lost my house, my health, all to feed a giant corporation?

That would be wrong. Legal-- but, hey, really really bad Karma.

Bullies-- i hate them.

Now that Gary Friedrich has nothing to sell at shows, while others are ignored, he is in trouble.

So here is the germ of an idea:

Hey, this image hit me, and wasn'tr gonna go away until I did it-- anyone wanting to do their own version please lfeel free.

So what if a comics guy, say-- me-- took a public domain character (maybe one that has been written by Mr Friedrich before), that had a super cool vehicle, say a scooter, or something faster. Then maybe I could get a veteran writer to co-plot, and dialogue the story. Now maybe 20 creators could each do one page of this story, while others could offer art for a sketchbook in the back. Maybe there could even be an interview with Gary, and other creators, a study of creators rights, and what the next generation needs to know to prepare for Disney-geddon.

Do you think we could publish a book where all the proceeds went to help this court case? Kickstarter is getting some play tehese days, so maybe, just maybe, we could help out this guy, and hand him the copyright to this version of this newly realized character?

Anyone with thoughts, please feel free to comment, or go help out >>

If any creators want to join me in this endeavor, please e-mail me at john@sky-dog.com

If there is interest, I will volunteer my time to help give Mr. Friedrich some help, and maybe some inspiration.

Why am I getting so fired up about something like this-- next time it could be me. Or you. Or your friend.

And I really, really hate bullies. But you already knew that.

-John Gallagher