Thousands of schoolchildren dream of smashing up their school, but few grow up to see their wishes encapsulated in the vivid technicolour of a comic story book. Neill Cameron's story Mo-Bot High, told in the form of a Manga comic strip, features Asha, a new girl at a comprehensive school which looks uncannily like the Cherwell School in Oxford. It is dedicated to “anyone who’s ever daydreamed of having a giant robot to smash up their school”.

When I met him at his studio in the bedroom of his house in Headington, filled with dramatic examples of his work as a storyteller and illustrator, I asked if he had been to art college. He said: “I did art at school and art history A-level and the teachers spent a lot of time encouraging me not to draw the way I drew.

“That put me off the whole art college thing. I wish I had, in some ways, because I spent a lot of years doing other things, working at software companies when I could have just been drawing things.”

Now 33, he grew up in Wolvercote and admits that he must have been a difficult pupil. “I used to draw comics when I should have been working.”

Despite the violent graphics, his book is basically an old-fashioned girls’ school story, with sparky female characters. It starts with Asha’s first day, when she runs into the school bullies. One summons a giant robot on her mobile phone and challenges Asha to a duel.

He studied the Malory Towers series carefully. “I had the idea that it would be in the best tradition of girls’ school stories, like Enid Blyton, but that everyone would have giant robots. I know girls traditionally don’t like giant robots, so I wanted to find a way into the world of robots that girls would be able to get their heads around.”

The robot wars reflect the battles of students vying to be cool and in the most popular set. “It’s about self-esteem and social ranking. People want to be friends with someone, but perhaps they already have a best friend. There’s jealousy and revenge — that’s what stories are made of.”

He was keen to break down the stereotype female comics character, included just for romantic interest. As he was writing the story, he was expecting his first child, and feared that, if it was a girl, it would face a “sea of pink and princesses”. He said: “A lot of the women I know would find it slightly exasperating not to have more of a choice.”

The baby was a boy. Logan, now three, is a keen collector of toys that transform into — yes, giant robots.

His comic strips had a cult following before he went freelance four years ago. “I had started doing a bit of freelance illustration and it seemed to be going well and I thought it was time to give up my job, which I didn’t like. But it’s a scary thing, giving up well-paid employment to go freelance. I made a plan but it slid back, because I was being paid. Then the company I worked for went into liquidation and I had to immediately start freelancing with no preparation. It gave me the impetus I needed.”

He had good reviews from self-publishing and small presses, but things really took off when he was shortlisted for an international Manga award. Then he heard about the plan by Oxford publisher David Fickling for a weekly children’s comic called the DFC, paid for by subscription. He sent in the outline of Mo-Bot High, and shortly afterwards the first episode appeared in the new comic, alongside a story by children’s author Philip Pullman.

Neill had never written for children before, but was careful not to use bad language. Nevertheless, editors toned it down even more, he said, and helped him knock the story into shape, making it more fun, rather than dark and edgy.

The DFC comic was a victim of the credit crunch, but the stories are now reborn in book form, and Neill is delighted with Book One. “The colours zing off the page in these hardback books,” he says wonderingly, having been used to seeing his work reproduced on recycled paper.

The book ends on a cliff-hanger, and he says Book Two is half-written. “The deal was that they would reproduce the strips that had been in the DFC. I had just two extra pages. I could have tied up all the ends but it wouldn’t have worked so I decided to give it a new ending that was an even bigger cliff-hanger.”

He has roughed out a story that will last for six books, if they sell well. “It is the story of everything that happens in the first year at secondary school,” he said.

So why choose Cherwell?

He said. “I wanted it to look like a rubbish, average British comprehensive school — though I did make the cafeteria more interesting. But that ends in ruins.”

* Mo-Bot High will be launched with a robot-making session at Blackwells in Oxford on December 3.