SHEPHERDSVILLE - It doesn't sound like much to say that folks making an economic impact on Bullitt County include Archibald Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Forsythe Pendleton Jones III.
It might sound more familiar if the latter's name was switched to Jughead.
The historical Archie Comics became part of the county's history when the company moved its American printing orders to Publishers Press in July 2010.
"It's one of our bigger accounts," said Publishers president Nick Simon. He estimated Archie Comics led to about $3 million in sales during its first year with Publishers.
Simon said the comic book printing style matched well with Publishers' current equipment. He added that comic books helped diversify the publication styles printed by the company.
"We print several comic books now," he said. "They've become a big part of our business. We're happy with (Archie Comics) and they're happy with us."
Simon was always familiar with Archie Comics, admitting he had read the books before in his younger days.
"I liked to read comics as a kid," he said. "I remember all these guys. And comic books today are still a big thing."
Archie Comics co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit said one of the primary reasons Publishers was selected was that both companies remained family-owned and operated.
"How wonderful to add a family company to our family business," said Silberkleit. "I stand behind propelling legacies and family businesses. It's an honor for the next generation to keep it going. I believe in legacy."
Because the two companies work together, Silberkleit visited the area to speak at Shepherdsville Elementary as the culmination of the 2011 Archie Comics Literacy Tour.
Silberkleit discussed the comic book process with students, featuring story ideas, script writing, pencilling, inking and coloring.
The above stages culminate in the printing, taking place at Publishers. Many Shepherdsville students raised hands when Silberkleit asked if their parents worked at Publishers.
Silberkleit took questions from the students during the event. One asked what being the company CEO meant. Another wanted to know how long Archie Comics has been around.
"I sit and come up with ideas," Silberkleit replied. "Archie has been around for 70 years. I just make sure everything is flowing."
A former school teacher for 25 years, Silberkleit was married to Michael Silberkleit. Michael's father, Louis, co-created Archie Comics in 1941.
Michael and Jon Goldwater, son of co-creator John L. Goldwater, both remained owners after their fathers passed away.
When Michael died two years ago, Jon, who was named CEO in 2009, invited Silberkleit on board as co-CEO.
"They had their thing going," she said. "I had no interest in it. I was a non-reader. But I have to read all the comics now to familiarize myself. I cannot go to bed without reading."
With her educational background, Silberkleit adapted her CEO position to becoming an ambassador for scholastic development.
Silberkleit admitted she had no reading interests growing up. As CEO, with her educational background, she hopes to change that sort of upbringing in today's children.
"Educators today now understand there are many learning styles," she said. "Everyone can be able to read, they just need to unleash their style. It's important to learn reading skills in the early years. Teachers now have a 'tool box' of many things for kids to read. That would've changed me and gave me a love for reading."
Silberkleit said comic books were filled with educational words that appear on high school SAT tests. Stories are both global and diverse, appearing in school settings.
"It's educational but it's entertaining," she said. "Schools need to be putting out graphic thinkers, too. Without reading, it's hard to gain knowledge."
Silberkleit also made a classroom appearance at Shepherdsville with Lauren Wilson's fourth graders. While showing the Archie Comics site to the class she opened a link to, "Tonight's Still Young," the official song of the Literacy Tour.
David Rojas, director of education with Archie Comics and also a writer, showed students the basics of creating their own comic strips.
Wilson said the students may implement the lesson plan during future social studies projects.
Silberkleit coined the phrase, "Comic book + children = reading." The phrase appears on the Archie Comics' "Comic Book Fairs" website, www.comicbookfairs.com.
Archie Comics developed Comic Book Fairs for schools, an event Silberkleit referred to as "a P.C. fundraiser," a way to generate revenue while educating and entertaining students.
Schools hosting Comic Book Fairs designate a date to sell books featuring Archie and Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Archie Comics allows schools to keep 40 percent of the fair's profits. Books are shipped to the school free of charge.
The Comic Book Fairs website now features a "Make Your Own Comic" section. For 25 cents students can create their own comic strips in a secured space.
The Comic Book Fairs site offers career exploration advice on the many jobs involved with creating comic books and strips.
The site also displays a free Archie story, "Bottle Battle," focusing on the importance of reusable items to cut down on plastic pollution. Silberkleit said the story was released in the book "Archie and Friends Double Digest #4" for Earth Day.
Archie first appeared in comics in 1941, created by Pep Comics, a division of MLJ Magazines. With Archie's popularity came a company name change to Archie Comic Publications, now Archie Comics.
Besides Archie, Pep Comics was also famous for The Shield, dubbed the first patriotic superhero to appear in comics, predating Captain America.
The Shield still appears in Archie Comics, along with other superheroes such as The Fly, Mega Man and the Mighty Crusaders.
Other popular Archie Comics feature characters including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats, Katy Keene and Kevin Keller.
In the Archie story line, other books feature Betty and Veronica (both together and separate) as well as Jughead.
Sonic the Hedgehog, a popular gaming character, is also an Archie Comics feature.
For more information on Archie Comics visit www.archiecomics.com.