I know I said the other day that I wasn't in a position to comment on the Gary Friedrich/GHOST RIDER lawsuit that's been the talk of the comics blogs but this morning, that changed. As I'm lying in bed with my fever dreams (see previous post), I suddenly remembered THIS guy! HELL-RIDER ran two issues from Skywald in 1971, part of a failed attempt at expanding their line beyond black and white horror mags like PSYCHO and NIGHTMARE. Gary Friedrich was at the helm and in the accompanying piece details the character's creation. Now the back story is completely different but it's hard not to look at HR physically as a GHOST RIDER prototype!
Skywald was run by former Marvel man Sol BrodSKY and legendary cash-in publishers Israel and Herschel WALDman. Their horror line was actually pretty good and introduced us to artists such as the prolific Pablo Marcos (who went on to illustrate children's classics!). HELL-RIDER tries to be adult-nudity, the ocassional "dirty" word, a plot based on heroin smuggling and folks doing recreational drugs. It still hedges its bets a lot. The artists though include the ever-popular Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (who had worked with the Waldmans doing new covers for their unauthorized IW/Super Comics reprints a decade earlier.), Rich Buckler, Dick Ayers (whose name is misspelled. OH! The indignity!), golden age CAPTAIN AMERICA artist Syd Shores and "special effects by Bill Everett and Carlos Garzon! Not bad at all. It's an interesting failure and I can't help but think that Gary took the basic look of the character straight to Marvel and made GHOST RIDER. Food for thought for all of you comics blog Nancy Graces. Uuuuugh! Back to my sick bed now!