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Scout Comics: Why creators are calling out the publisher over non-payment, threats & ghosting (and how the company has responded so far)

Scout Comics admits to ghosting creators after public outcry over alleged non-payment and threats

All the Devils Are Here
Image credit: Matt Harding (Scout Comics)

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Something is going on at Scout Comics. Freelance creators who have worked for the company best known for comic publishing have been speaking out over the past few days about severe delays in getting paid, and in some cases, delays in even getting a response from people within the company.

Scout Comics, which is based in South Florida under its full name of Scout Comics & Entertainment Holdings Inc., has responded to those concerns by admitting "miscommunication," "missteps," and that they "dropped the ball," but is already trying to douse public interest in this ongoing issue.

What's going on at Scout Comics?

All the Devils Are Here
Image credit: Marco Fontanili (Scout Comics)

The first clue that something was amiss at Scout Comics came from Jarred Luján, the writer of the All the Devils Are Here comic one-shot, which raised over $8000 on Kickstarter in 2021 and was subsequently publihsed by Scout in April 2023. On social media, Luján stated that the publisher has withheld money for "over a year" and "won't answer emails."

"[I] spoke to the Editorial Director and he implied we'd be blacklisted for complaining," Luján wrote on February 28, referring to Scout's Andrea Lorenzo Molinari (who also writes comics for the publisher). "[The] CEO came in acting like he'd help and now he's ghosting us too. If it's like that at the top, you know why everything else sucks."

Scout Comics & Entertainment Holdings' CEO is Brendan Deneen, a prolific writer of comics, prose, and screenplays, who at the same time as served as an executive for various companies including Dimension Films, the Weinstein Company, Scott Rudin Productions, and Macmillan. He broke into entertainment as an agent for the William Morris Agency.

Popverse reached out to Deneen, and got this response.

"We are talking to Jarred and currently reaching an amicable solution," Deneen tells Popverse. "Any creators with questions or concerns are always free to reach out to me directly, and we will work with them to rectify any outstanding issues."

According to Luján, All the Devils Are Here was profitable in the "single statement about book sales" he had received, but he hasn't received any money or any further statements in some time. That led to Luján asking Scout in January 2024 that they cancel their publishing contract in order to "move past the money" that is owed, but did not receive a response at the time.

Other creators speak out about Scout Comics

Long Lost
Image credit: Lisa Sterle (Scout Comics)

Luján's public statements about his issues with Scout Comics & Entertainment Holdings led to other creators in similiar situations speaking out.

Matthew Erman, co-creator of the Scout Comics hitseries Long Lost with Lisa Sterle, states it "is no longer a Scout Comics title as of today after we mutually agreed to part ways and terminate the publishing contract."

Long Lost was published in 2017, and its sucess prompted a sequel in 2018, plus multiple collected editions.

Artist Christian DiBari tweeted that he and his collaborators aborted plans for two creator-owned series at Scout, Tales Told in Techni-Horror and Provenance of Secrets, due to similiar issues. The first issues of both were published in 2021 by Scout, with plans for both originally announced and planned to have future issues.

"Over two years ago myself and co-creators on a few titles we did went through this with them too," says Christian DiBari. "We were met with bullshit threats- lies and now currently 'paying off money owed' they are the biggest scam going in terms of a publisher."

Tales Told in Techni-Horror
Image credit: Christian DiBari (Scout Comics)

DiBari didn't specify what the "threats" were from Scout Comics, but if true, they would be similiar to the threats of blacklisting Luján alleged Scout Comics' editorial director Andrea Lorenzo Molinari implied after voicing concerns about payment.

"[Scout Comics] refused to cancel contracts and willingly sat on stock refusing to sell it and even removed it from the store," writes DiBari's collaborator Kiyarn Taghan. "So bizarre. None of them know what they're doing."

Taghan goes on to allege that Scout Comics offered to terminate their publishing contract only if the creators paid the publisher $75,000 to cover costs of a "huge overprint we didn't ask for."

Wells Thompson, the writer of the April 2023 Scout Comics one-shot Mechaton, says that a publisher representative told him the comic hadn't been profitable for the company, and they stopped responding to his attempts to reach out five months ago.

"We got a sales report explaining that the book hasn’t made its money back, but also haven’t gotten any real communication since September (despite repeated attempts to reach out)," says Thompson. "Honestly, glad to know it’s not just us.

Concerns about Scout can be tracked back to four years ago, as the writer behind the well-received Scout Comics title Grit also stepped up to say issues with the company led them to truncate the series and disassociate with the company.

"If you were curious about why we opted to call it quits on Grit, here you go," writer Brian Wickman says, referring to Luján's issues with Scout.

Michael Lagace, writer of the 2019 Scout Comics series The Forever Maps, says that he is "still happy" he is doing business with Scout. The 2019 series was collected in 2020, and went to a second printing in 2023.

Scout makes a public response

Scout Comics

In the days following the initial posts by Luján and others, we have confirmed Scout has conversed with some of the creators who have taken issue with what the company itself would later describe as "missteps."

On the evening of Febuary 29, Scout Comics & Entertainment Holdings posted an un-signed open letter to those concerned about the state of the company, and re-posted it as replies to some of the public complaints about the company.

"While Scout has always strived to maintain high levels of service to our teams, recently a creative team expressed their frustration publicly due to having not had a response to their concerns in several months. This is true," reads the letter. "We dropped the ball by failing to respond in a timely manner. We take full responsibility for our lack of response at that time due to internal miscommunication."

Scout's letter says they "will continue to strive to do better and improve communication with all our creators," and says that "very few creators" have contacted them with concerns, and attempts to contrast it by saying unnamed other creators have "reach[ed] out in support."

Scout then directs any Scout comic creator with concerns to email the company's COO Lesa Miller, that they will now be "listened to and all inquires will be responded to in a timely manner."

In the postings of this open letter on Scout Comics' X (formerly known as Twitter) and Facebook pages, they specifically chose to block any accounts from publicly replying.

Jared Luján, who first brought public attention to Scout's issues, posted later that since he went public that they and Scout are "close" to working out terms to dissolve their publishing contract, and that the statement is something he believes "is part of that."

Popverse will keep you updated on further developments surrounding Scout Comics.

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