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Florida publisher opens new Fort Myers HQ, holds grand opening

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The Scout Comics team

Scout Comics is growing every day.

The Fort Myers comic-book publisherJames Haick (president and marketing/sales director) says that the organization expects to generate $1.7million in annual revenue by the end. This is a significant increase from the $765,000 and $375,000 that was recorded in 2019 and last year.

In the process, Scout has become one of the top independent comic-book publishers in the country. It publishes 14 to 18 comic titles a month and sells them both online and at stores across the United States — and now in Canada, too.

Scout moved their headquarters to the new location near Colonial Boulevard after things have grown so quickly. They’re keeping the old space for offices and storage.

“It’s been amazing,”Haick: “It has exploded.”

Previously: Scout Comics goes big with Phantom Starkiller, Stabbity Bunny and more characters

‘The Mall’: Comic book creator goes to ‘The Mall’ in an ’80s homage, as Goodfellas meets Godfather

Scout Comics's new headquarters opened recently at 10231 Metro Parkway, Suite 100, in Fort Myers.

Scout celebrated his achievement with an a grand openingThis weekend’s event at the new headquarters. Some of Scout’s top comic creators will be there to meet fans and sign comics, including Joseph Schmalke and Peter Goral (“Phantom Starkiller”Haick (“Solar Flare”Richard Rivera and Judith Rivera“Stabbity Bunny”).

Also attending: Several employees from the printing company that helped make Scout’s rapid rise a possibility, Direct Impressions. Comic Impressions is published under the Cape Coral Company.

“They’re incredible,”Haick: “It’s a family-owned business. … I give them a lot of credit for our growth, because we’ve done it together.”

Scout Comics: An inspiring story about a pandemic.

Scout was a remarkable success story in the midst of the pandemic. While heavy hitters Marvel and DC scaled back comic production last year, Scout actually managed to ramp up sales — thanks largely to Comic Impressions staying open and continuing to print comics.

“When everybody shut down,”Haick: “it really allowed us to come in and take market share.”

This growth is also seen in the other direction. About half of Direct Impressions’ business now comes from comics — and not just Scout books (which makes up about 25-30 percent of their total business). They also print comics for more than 100 other U.S. publishers — most of which found out about the company through their relationship with Scout, says Comic Impressions manager Richard Boye.

“We are all of the sudden pretty well known in the comic industry,”Boye. “Scout has put us on the map. … It’s been a fun ride.”

Obviously, a lot’s changed since Scout launched in 2015 with just a handful of titles. Since then, the company has grown to about 240 titles — up from 170 last year — and many of them are on display in Scout’s newHeadquarters measuring 5,000 square feet (more than three-times larger than the previous one).

Now, the company employs 12 people. Haick states that they only had two employees last year.

“It’s unbelievable,” he says. “And that’s just locally. I mean, we’ve expanded back office: More designers, more editors. I think there’s a total of about 30 of us now (including the 12 employees).”

The creator-owned company is different from big-name comic publishers Marvel and DC. The comics’ creators get a share of the profits after printing, production and shipping expenses (usually split 50/50 with the company, although that varies, Haick says).

Schmalke — co-creator of popular Scout titles “Phantom Starkiller” and “The Electric Black” — says he probably couldn’t have achieved that success without Scout. Before joining Scout, he’d published three graphic novels on his own with relatively modest results.

“The comic book industry is tough to break into, you know,” Schmalke said earlier this year. “No one had ever heard about me or any of my stuff. Even the self-published stuff, even though it was successful, most people have never heard of those books.

“Now, through Scout, I’ve been able to bring my career up a level.”

A page from the Scout Comics book

Movies, toys and more

That growth seems likely to continue for Schmalke and the rest of the Scout Comics team. The company has several projects designed to expand their brand and get them into more stores than ever, including:

  • New LatinX imprint Chispa, a joint project with Los Angeles production company Mucho Mas Media. One of the imprint’s titles, “Attack at Acapulco: A Black Demon Tale,” is being turned into a movie starring Josh Lucas, Haick says. It’s expected to come out in October 2022.
  • More titles that are in various stages of development for TV shows and movies, including “Smoketown,” “Unikorn” and Haick’s own “Solar Flare.” Once one show gets made, Haick says, that’ll likely open the door for even more Scout adaptations. “It’s only going to take one.”
  • Scout’s growing imprint for kids, Scoot!
  • New toy line Tracker Collectibles, which started recently with a “Stabbity Bunny” plush animal and miniatures from the “Murder Hobo” series. Next up: A new line of Star Wars-style, 3 ¾-inch action figures for “Phantom Starkiller” and “The Electic Black.”
  • A new distribution deal with publishing company Simon & Schuster, which went into effect in September and could soon make Scout’s books available at Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble and other U.S. stores, Haick says.  “We’re really going to be in full effect next year. It’s just starting.”
  • And the growing Comic Tags project, designed to attract new readers to Scout’s digital comics. Giftcard-sized mini comics are being sold on newsstand-style spinner racks in stores everywhere. A scratch-off code lets buyers download full-sized, digital graphic novels, too.

Scout Comics' leadership team: (Clockwise from bottom left) chief strategy officer Tennessee Edwards, chief media officer Don Handfield, chief operating officer Lesa Miller, president James Haick and chief executive officer Brendan Deneen.

It’s been exciting watching Scout’s growth and being a part of it, says Boye of Comic Impressions. It’s well-deserved, he says — and not just because of Scout’s good timing during the pandemic and its hometown printer.

A lot of their success comes from the enthusiastic people who work there and create its comics,He says. And their excitement is contagious.

“It’s not just a business model for them,” Boye says. “It’s a passion project.”

To learn more about Scout Comics, call 672-4497 or visit scoutcomics.com.

Connect with this reporter: Email [email protected] or connect on social media at Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter)And @crunnells1 (Instagram).

Scout Comics's new headquarters opened recently at 10231 Metro Parkway, Suite 100, in Fort Myers.

What: Grand opening for Scout Comics’ new headquarters

Where: Scout Comics, 10231 Metro Parkway, Suite 100, Fort Myers (just south of Colonial Boulevard)

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. SaturdayAnd Sunday, Nov. 13-14

dmission: No cost

Lineup: Some of Scout’s most popular creators will be there, including Piper Rudich, Joseph Schmalke, Peter Goral, James Haick, David Byrne, Karl Moline, Lee Ferguson, Richard Rivera and more. Schedule for signing to be revealed.

Info:Contact Scoutcomics.com at 672-4497