| Justin R. Taylan became interested in his
grandfather and his Army service in World War II during the 50th anniversary of
the attack on Pearl
I learned that my grandfather had a wartime nickname of "Picnic". This sparked my curiosity made me want to learn more. I had always known my grandfather was a veteran, but had no idea what that really meant. During summer vacations I decided to interview him about his experiences. What began as a summer project expanded into an intensive three year project!
As my knowledge of history grew, I was able to understand more about what it meant to be a soldier in the Pacific. I found myself spending every free moment of my time writing and illustrating his stories. Our summer trip back to the places he served in Australia and New Guinea was probably the defining experiences of my exploration, and allowed me to step back fifty years with my grandfather and experience many of the same locations he did during the war.
When the manuscript for my graphic novel was complete I realized my story was something other people should read. Fear of being told that I was "too young to write a book" kept me away from major publishers. Instead, I decided to self-publish.
Self-publishing enabled me to layout the book the way I envisioned it. I created Wanpela Books (meaning "first" in Pidgin English, the language of Papua New Guinea) to distribute my book. The dream became a reality in the summer of 1994 when No Place For A Picnic was printed.
Photo: Fred Belet Tampa Tribune