Gary Friedrich began working with Marvel in the mid-1960′s writing Western comics and Sgt. Fury, among others. One of the comics Friedrich created was ‘Ghost Rider’ as a Western character that debuted in 1967. There was no flaming skull back then, just a ghostly all-white cowboy on a ghostly all-white horse. In 1972, Johnny Blaze, the motorcycle riding Ghost Rider appeared and began his own series in 1973, also imagined and written by Friedrich, who wound up leaving Marvel in the late 1970′s. There is some dispute as to who originated the flaming skull, with Friedrich claiming credit, co-creator Roy Thomas crediting artist Mike Ploog, and Ploog stating that he cannot recall whose idea it was. Jump to 2004, three years before the movie comes out, and Friedrich who caught wind of plans to make a Ghost Rider movie had lawyers contacting Marvel to get part of the rights to the first movie, but to no avail. In 2007 when the Nicolas Cage movie was released and Friedrich filed suit against Marvel in federal court in Illinois. Essentially, Friedrich claimed that Marvel had the rights to the Ghost Rider character in comic-form only and that the rights to the Ghost Rider character in movie-form were his. The case was transferred to New York, where Marvel is located, in 2008. The federal court in New York ruled today that Marvel owned the rights, not Friedrich. Completely apart from the controversy over the originator of the flaming skull, Friedrich had cashed checks from Marvel which contained language whereby he relinquished his rights. Friedrich should not have cashed the checks, but disputed the rights to Ghost Rider at that time, apparently. Regardless, the movie sequel, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” releases early next year.