Comic books are a staple of entertainment for many children and a new company called Founder’s Force is seeking to bring exciting comics to the market. Founder’s Force writes children’s superhero books that teach kids from ages 2-8 about our founding fathers in a fun way. Founder Kyle McElhaney is an active duty Army Captain and has been in the Army for over eight years, but is voluntarily exiting in May 2016. He and his wife started the “Founders Force” as a fun means of strengthening the American family and creating a new generation of patriots whilst also instilling some basic knowledge of history in young readers.
Kyle is an Apache helicopter pilot and deployed to Afghanistan from 2010-2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently stationed in Manhattan, KS and is responsible for Army recruiting for the north half of Kansas. He is from Mississippi and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy. He also earned a Master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Entrepreneurship. Recently, Kyle spoke to the Examiner about his experience working on this franchise and his hopes for its future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): When was Founders Force started and why was that specific name chosen?
Kyle McElhaney (K.E.): We had the idea for “Founder’s Force” in Barnes and Noble about a year and a half ago. We were in the kid’s section and I wanted to show my oldest son, who was four at the time, a book on the Revolutionary War. It was in the kid’s section, so I assumed he would like it. He didn’t, ha ha. He appeased me for about five seconds and ran over to the superhero section. I knew kids needed to know about the founding of this country but wanted to know about superheroes, so we decided to combine them and create the best of both worlds. The “Founders Force” name came about because we were trying to think of a cool name for this new team of superheroes. It came from days of brainstorming and testing and then we finally settled on “Founders Force”. It also helped that is wasn’t trademarked yet.
M.M.: Right now how many Founders Force comics are there? How do you plan to expand the line?
K.E.: Currently we have four sets of superheroes, George Washington as Winged Warrior, Benjamin Franklin as Benji, Thomas Jefferson as Truth Jotter or TJ, and the only team which is John and Abigail Adams as Chief and Confidant but together they are the Champion Duo. Each superhero has one book in publication except for Winged Warrior since his second book was released on March 1, 2016. Since we only cover a small portion of the Founder’s life, we have a lot of room to expand. We are looking to grow to at least ten books per character and potentially add more characters in the future too, but that is still a work in progress.
M.M.: How do you think up ideas for your stories? For instance, how close to history are they?
K.E.: Right now we like to focus on the big events in each founder’s life since that makes it an easier transition for teachers and parents. If they are familiar with the story they can relate better while reading it to their kids. We will eventually go into the lesser known stories once our audience gets comfortable with seeing their founding fathers as superheroes. It takes some getting used to, so we want to make the transition as fun and easy as possible.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with Founders Force?
K.E.: That’s easy, seeing kids’ faces light up when they see these books. Nothing beats the smile on a kids’ face, so we are striving to get more smiles. It also helps when they learn something too, but we are here to have fun.
M.M.: Where do you hope Founders Force will be in ten years?
K.E.: I see us branching into apparel, school supplies and Halloween costumes. In ten years, I would really like to have our own YouTube channel with animated shows too (if YouTube is still around, who knows). I also see more and more and more teachers asking their school board to bring these books into the classroom and these books being standard teaching material for homeschool parents.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the toy industry?
K.E.: Just do it! What is the worst thing that can happen? You Fail? Oh well, at least you tried. We haven’t made it by any stretch of the imagination, so we are still in the trenches every day fighting to get these books to grow and spread awareness; someone looking to get in needs to do the same thing. Everyone hopes it’s easy because they have the best idea out there, but it isn’t easy, you have to want it. Another small piece of advice is to know what you are good at and know what you are not good at and then hire someone to do those things you are not good at.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to mention?
K.E.: Book six will be coming out in early June! We are discussing the Declaration of Independence and you also find out how TJ gets his magic pen. It’s a fun one!
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