From Friday’s The Oklahoman:
By Matthew Price
The creator of the motorcycle-bound supernatural hero “Ghost Rider” comes to Oklahoma City this weekend for SoonerCon. Gary Friedrich will visit with fans at the annual science fiction convention, held today through Sunday at the Biltmore Hotel, 401 S Meridian Ave.
Friedrich talked to The Oklahoman about his comic-book experiences with “Ghost Rider” and other comics in a recent interview.
“The first flash of an idea for Ghost Rider came when I was still a kid and saw Marlon Brando in ‘The Wild One,’” Friedrich said. “I loved the movie and began to think about a superhero on a motorcycle.”
As time went by, Friedrich said he was influenced by the cycle gang movies of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as daredevil Evel Knievel.
“The ideas began to come together in the late sixties during a period when I was away from Marvel and worked for another company for a time,” Friedrich said. “But as I began to lean toward a supernatural connection, I realized the Comics Code Authority probably wouldn’t accept anything like that. So although I had the concept pretty much together by 1970, I had to wait until the Code eased its standards for horror-type comics in 1971 to attempt to get the character published.”
The Ghost Rider first appeared in “Marvel Spotlight” No. 5 in early 1972.
Friedrich worked on several titles for Marvel Comics in the 1960s, including “Captain America,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.” His longest run as a writer came on “Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos.”
“There was an order of titles through which new writers would progress at Marvel,” Friedrich said. “You’d start out with ‘Millie the Model,’ then progress to western titles like ‘Kid Colt’ and ‘Two-Gun Kid,’ then came ‘Sgt. Fury.’ But after I’d gone through that progression and written a few issues of ‘Fury’ and was deemed ready to move on to the superhero big time, I didn’t want to let go of ‘Fury and his Howling Commandos.’ I’d grown fond of the ol’ Sarge as well as of working with Dick Ayers and inker John Severin, so I talked Stan and Roy into letting me continue writing the title, which I did for several years and probably more than 50 issues.”