Remembering Gary Friedrich, 1943-2018
Last week, the comic book industry lost one of its valued veterans when writer Gary Friedrich passed away at the age of 75. Perhaps best known for his role in the creation of Ghost Rider, his stories had a knack for the supernatural, contributing to seminal stories featuring Sgt. Fury, Frankenstein and Son of Satan under Marvel Comics.
From a young age, Gary started his career in journalism, editing his high school newspaper in Jackson, Missouri and eventually graduating to professional periodicals. In the mid-1960s, finding himself at a career crossroads, he made his way to New York City and Marvel, where he joined the House of Ideas at the behest of his childhood friend Roy Thomas (by then a staff writer at Marvel).
Beginning his comic book career in the romance and western genres, Gary had a gift for tackling important issues through the medium. The writer’s passion and purpose came on display when he took the reins of SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS in 1967, penning a series of stories that addressed the horror of war and challenged the norms of current society. He would also launch other war series like CAPTAIN SAVAGE AND HIS LEATHERNECK RAIDERS and COMBAT KELLY AND THE DEADLY DOZEN.
After brief but memorable tenures on characters including the Hulk, the X-Men, and Black Widow, Gary and artist Mike Ploog dreamt up Johnny Blaze, aka Ghost Rider. A stunt cyclist who made a deal with the devil, the Ghost Rider was a supernatural star in motorcycle leather and a flaming skull. The Marvel Universe had never seen anything like the horror hero before.
Soon after, Gary also debuted Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan in the pages of GHOST RIDER, and eventually reunited with artist Mike Ploog on MONSTER OF FRANKENSTEIN, both adapting and then moving beyond Mary Shelley’s signature novel.
Gary would remain active as a comic book writer well into the 1990s, working on CAPTAIN BRITAIN and various independent properties. He distinguished himself as one of the first writers to break out at Marvel following Roy Thomas in the '60s, imagining some of the '70s most cutting-edge characters, and continuing his contributions in the decades beyond.
Gary Friedrich will be remembered fondly by generations of fans and professionals alike. We offer condolences and thoughts to his family, including wife Jean and daughter Leslie.