We’ve heard the stories. The RIAA goes after a kid for downloading Christmas carols, or Netflix wants a Canadian father to pay a grand for mistakenly streaming 5 films over a wireless card that was in roaming mode.
Now Marvel is demanding that Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, who lost his case against Marvel for rights and restitution related to theatrical rights, pay the company $17,000 for prints that he sold at shows. Friedrich, according to Bleeding Cool, is currently penniless.
In this day, when some say that corporations are people, I have to ask if these are the kinds of people that we want to do business with?
Now, this isn’t about Marvel’s right to ask Friedrich for a sum that will crush him, loose change that would merely jingle in their pockets. They’re within their right. I’m not going to talk about “can” versus “should” again.
The fact is Marvel isn’t searching in the dark waiting for the glow of guidance or the feel of something standing in their way. They’re going to slam a boot down on the throat of people like Friedrich until they see and hear people stand up and tell them to stop. They’re going to do it until their bottom line is hit. Because that’s the language these “people” speak.
We are not a large site, growing, but not large. We speak in whispers in the grand scheme of things, barely heard because we are stuck within a large pack. With that said, we are saying something in this moment and throwing a stone into the ocean. WeLoveCult.com will not run a review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (despite the fact that the film is produced by Sony), we will not cover it in any way and we will not cover or review anything to do with the Ghost Rider comic series. Not as long as I am editor and not as long as Marvel continues to pursue Mr. Friedrich. I will also personally boycott these products as well. This is not a clarion call for other to follow suit, this is just a statement of what we and I plan on doing.
This will almost certainly do nothing, but it says something about where we stand in this moment on a divisive issue that is causing great waves and odd alliances in an industry we love and cover.
As a site that relies on cooperation with companies like Marvel, Disney, and Sony, this may harm us in our ability to cover other stories but at least our conscience will be clear.
There’s a proverb: “speak only when you can improve upon the silence.” Sometimes fulfilling that and maintaining a clear conscience is justification enough.
I don’t know Mr. Friedrich, only his story, but creator rights are essential to the continuation of comic books and other media. Characters, created through imagination, extreme effort, and strong commitment deserve to have their tie to their creator left unsevered, their contributions never forgotten, ignored, or shortchanged.
Friedrich deserved a portion of the rights to the cinematic adaptation of his creation in my view, and though that fight is lost, Marvel should search hard and fast for any residual sense of respect and decency that they may have lying around in the Disney Vault.
In closing I want to apologize to our readers who may be disappointed by this decision and saddened by our lack of coverage on the Ghost Rider brand. In this instance Marvel’s actions are simply too aggressive to be ignored. They aren’t just stopping Friedrich from making a living, or robbing him of his due reward — they are pursuing a large sum of money from him in a punitive way that could cripple his life.
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Written by Jason Tabrys (@jtabrys)
The former editor-in-chief, Jason still reappears in the rafters of our fair site from time to time but he now spends his days leaping from one place to another, trying to put right what once went wrong. You can still find his words across the toxic constellation that is the… More »