The man behind "Captain Underpants"

Time now for a “brief encounter” … the one the Rita Braver enjoyed with an author who’s refashioned children’s literature: 


Dav Pilkey, creator of the characters “Captain Underpants” and “DogMan.”

Why is David “Dav” Pilkey posing in a span of hulk tighty whities at a book appearance? Because he’s the author and illustrator of the hugely renouned “Captain Underpants” series — also a big film this past summer.

It’s about a meant class school principal who is hypnotized by two fourth graders into apropos a comic book impression they have created. [“You are now the biggest superhero of all time: Captain Underpants!”]

But the genuine superheroes in the Captain Underpants tale are the boys, who share some critical traits with Dav Pilkey himself: “They have something called ADHD — courtesy necessity hyperactivity delightfulness, is how we prefer it,” Pilkey smiled. “Everyone else calls it a disorder, but we had a lot of the same problems. we misbehaved, couldn’t stay in my seat, we couldn’t lay still, we was always looking out the window or daydreaming. And so we really do brand with kids who are outsiders in the classroom.”

And the kids who group to meet Pilkey, now 51, adore conference how he dreamed up Captain Underpants in second grade, just outward Cleveland. His classmates suspicion it was waggish — but his teacher?  “She took that sketch divided from me, right out of my palm and ripped it up right in front of me, and she forked to the classroom doorway and said, ‘Mr. Pilkey, out!'”


Captain Underpants, the star of a series of bestselling children’s books by author and illustrator Dav Pilkey.

His mom and dad, however, speedy his cartooning, assisting him overcome his training disabilities and the consistent critique from school: “‘He can’t read, he’s not wise in, he’s not behaving’ … we always came home to a protected place and a place where we was speedy and got so much love,” Pilkey said.

He done it to college, and it was there that a kinder teacher beheld his present for essay and drawing: “She took me aside one day and said, ‘Have you ever suspicion about essay children’s books? we consider you’d be good at that,'” he recalled. “And so we wrote my first children’s book within the month. we entered it into a contest, and we won the contest, and that’s how it all started.”

He would go on to write and illustrate several books, including “World War Won,” “‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving,” “The Paperboy,” and the “Dumb Bunnies” series. But when he tried to get publishers meddlesome in “Captain Underpants,” “Took one demeanour at it, ‘Nope,’ they sent it right back.”

After promulgation it to about 20 publishers, he reworked the story, and it was published 20 years ago this month. There are now 80 million copies in the series in print.


A Captain Underpants spin-off, called “Dogman,” is now at the top of the children’s bestseller lists. And Pilkey cheerfully acknowledges that all of his work facilities loads of lavatory jokes. 

Why the potty humor? 

“When we was in second grade, that was what done everybody laugh,” Pilkey said. “If you put underwear or poop or diarrhea, especially, in a book, everybody desired it!”

Dav dreams up those humorous books at the home he shares with his wife, Sayuri, on a lifelike indicate on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The two have no children of their own. 

Was that by design, or the way things incited out? “It’s the way things incited out,” Pilkey said. “I fell in adore and got married when we was 40 and my wife is the same age as me, and we were just too late. We just missed the boat!”

But Dav Pilkey says, his whole life is desirous by the kids he’s met along the way:

“I have the best audiences; we have the best readers,” he said, “and that’s one of the things that keeps me going.”

For some-more info:

  • Planet Pilkey at Scholastic Books
  • “The Adventures of Captain Underpants,” written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic); Also accessible via Amazon
  • “Dogman,” written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic); Also accessible via Amazon

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