Why I made a kid’s book for kids who don’t like books

Mike at Goulbourn Comic-Con. Photo by Cliff Dorian

Action Tank is my graphic novel series for kids.

I write it, illustrate it, colour it, letter it… and now I’m in partnership with the awesome Scout Comics, who publish it. 

Here’s a one sentence pitch:

Filled with imagination, adventure, and underpinned by a warm, humorous tone, Action Tank is a graphic novel series for middle-graders (ie. 7-12 year olds) best described as Where The Wild Things Are meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Sound good? Thanks!

I suppose I could also tell you that it’s about a boy who finds himself on the other side of the Solar System who has to get home in time for his Mum’s spaghetti carbonara, but rather than focus on WHAT Action Tank is, or even HOW I made it, today I want to talk about WHY.

WHY I made Action Tank – a kids book for kids who don’t like books.

I remember what it was like to not love reading.

I was a kid, and while I actually could read, I just didn’t ever really think to do it. Not for fun, not to relax, not really… at all. Reading just wasn’t a thing that happened.

Then I discovered comics. Colourful, visual, exciting. Lightweight and easy to hold. Short and easy to finish. This was imagination without the effort. Reading that didn’t feel like reading. And I was hooked.

As I grew, so did my enjoyment of reading, in all its forms. Novels, articles, essays, poems, social media posts, emails, street signs… and these days, if there’s a good story being told, I’ll be there to read it. But I’ve never forgotten where it all began, which is why I’ll never stop loving comics.

Then I had kids of my own, and this wasn’t just about me anymore. 

Like most parents, I wanted my kids to love reading, and I knew (from my own experience) what an effective gateway comics could be. However, as I stood in the living room one afternoon, with a son hanging off each leg, gazing at my beloved graphic novel bookshelf (aka ‘the shrine’), I realised that although it was positively heaving with magnificently told, masterfully drawn comics, very few of them were suitable for kids.

That’s the day I began working on Action Tank.

Using all the skills I had accumulated from a 15 year advertising career (art direction, copywriting, economic storytelling, meticulous self-scrutinising, the ability to drink nine coffees in a day, etc), I worked really hard to make a book I could confidently hand to my kids, and to your kids, that would respect their intelligence, tap into their sense of humour, feed their love of adventure, and help them discover just how exciting and enjoyable reading can be.

And guess what? It actually worked. 

What a privelege it’s been to receive emails, letters, photos, video messages, hand-made cards, hand-drawn fan-comics and even class book reports from kids all over Australia (and now, the world!), telling me what Action Tank means to them. Honestly, it never gets old.

I’d really love to hear from you and your kids too.

But first, you’ll need to read the books.

Which means you’ll need to buy the books.

So, allow me to present…

How to buy the Action Tank graphic novels (and be a hero to your kids)

1. Buy it direct from the author (me!)

This is a great option of you live in Australia and want the books now.

My wife and I have hand-sold thousands of limited-run, self-published copies of the Action Tank graphic novels out of our spare bedroom in Sydney, Australia. We still have some of these available, so if you would like one (or multiple), you can grab them from my online store. I’m happy to sign them, too.

Note: These copies are full comic-book size (ie. 6.75 x 10.5 inches / 17 x 26cm)

BUY NOW >

2. Buy it from your favourite comic or book shop (Soon!)

Action Tank is now going global! Thanks to my amazing publisher Scout Comics, my books will be released under the Scoot! Imprint, and distributed worldwide by Diamond, Lunar and Simon & Schuster!

Note: These copies are “digest size”. Or as I call them, “Dog Man size” (ie 5.5 x 8.5 inches / 11.5 x 22cm)

Available from December 2021

3. Buy it direct from Scout Comics (Soon!)

Scout Comics, have their own fantastic online store. Get the Action Tank graphic novels, as well as a bunch of awesome Action Tank Issue #1 variant and collectors editions. Boooom!

Note: These copies are “digest size”. Or as I call them, “Dog Man size” (ie 5.5 x 8.5 inches / 11.5 x 22cm)

Available from December 2021

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