Our Questions for Dav Pilkey Answered

Dav Pilkey is the author of the famed children's novel series Captain Underpants. Whooo's Reading users submitted questions to Dav, and he answered! Here are his responses:

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I always wondered why is his name Captain Underpants when it could be Snoop the Poop or Carter the Smarter?
- 5th Grader from IL

Well, my teacher in grade 2 gave me the idea for his name. She used the word 'underpants' in class one day, and everybody started to laugh. I was immediately convinced that 'underpants' was the world's funniest word, so I created a superhero called 'Captain Underpants' that day.


How is your day going?
- 3rd Grader from MD

Thank you for asking. My day is going pretty well, so far. I'm working on the illustrations for the next Captain Underpants book now. It's called Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot. I just finished drawing page 88, and it feels pretty good to be almost half way done.


I would love to know how you thought about and made the Captain Underpants series. I would love to hear some advice on how to make a New York Times Best Seller.
- 8th Grader from OH

Well, I've been making up stories and illustrating them since I was in kindergarten, so my best advice (and I think the thing that has helped me to be successful as well) is to work hard and stick with it. The more you write and draw, the better you will get. It might seem frustrating at times, but remember that every time you draw and write, you improve.


Dear Dav Pilkey, Thank you for writing the amazing Captain Underpants series!! When will you be coming out with another book? When you do, that will be the first thing I use my allowance on!
- 5th Grader from GA

I'm working on the next book right now. It's called Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot, and it will be coming out in August of 2015.


Have you ever lost inspiration to write, or have you ever lost faith in your writings and keeping the comedy? Because I find it interesting to ask writers their inspiration because really is it great writing if there's no inspiration? Wouldn't you agree? Thank you for your time, and happy thanksgiving. Oh one last thing. Have you ever written too much and had to cut it down?
- 8th Grader from NY

Great questions. I'll answer your second one first: Yes, I write too much and have to cut it down all the time. It's often been said that the best writing is RE-writing (in other words, editing), and that's something that writers have to do quite often.

Inspiration is important, but I don't think it is a rare thing. I find inspiration all around me. Especially when I daydream or reminisce about my childhood. And of course, I think everyone loses faith in their own abilities from time to time. I've made almost 60 books for kids, and I sometimes worry that I'll never be able to do it again. At times like that, I think it's important to take a break, get out into nature, and try to reflect on gratitude. Sometimes a nice, quiet walk in the woods is all it takes to get back into the swing of things.


Would your Captain Underpants books be a good series for me to read? I haven't read the books yet, but I have some friends in my class who read the books and when they let me have a peek, the drawings and stories seem like they would be funny enough to make me squirt milk out my nose! But I don't particularly like superheroes, which brings up my question. So should I read them or not?
- 3rd Grader from FL

You might be surprised to find out I'm not a big superhero fan, either. I DO read comics, but usually not superhero ones. Captain Underpants is more of a humor and adventure series about two best friends who don't fit in at school very well. If that kind of story sounds good to you, I think you might enjoy these books.


Why did you make adventures like this? How did you feel when your book hit it big? Why? Were George and Harold like you and someone else? If so, did you make comics and sneak into the teacher's lounge and make copies? Also, did you pull pranks on teachers as a kid? Your books are the kind I will read forever.
- 5th Grader from NC

George and Harold are both based on me when I was a kid, so yes, many of their antics are based on things that I did when I was in elementary school (including their pranks). I made comics and switched the letters around on bulletin boards, too. My school didn't have a copy machine when I was a kid, so I never made copies of my comics.


How could there possibly be a stew so gross it can kill the talking toilets? P.S. I've read all of the Captain Underpants books.
- 3rd Grader from PA

When you use your imagination, anything can happen. Toilets can come to life, and cafeterias can serve food that is SO HORRIBLE, it can destroy any living thing. That's why I enjoy being a writer so much. I get to use my imagination all day long!


What made you want to be a writer?
- 5th Grader from OH

I had a teacher when I was in college who encouraged me to write. She said I was good at it, and that I should try to write a children's book. I was so inspired by her that I wrote my very first children's book that year.


Why did you name your books Captain Underpants and how did you come up with the characters? Also, did you ever think your books were going to become this popular to kids all over America?
- 4th Grader from IL

Captain Underpants' name was inspired by my 2nd grade teacher, who said 'underpants' in class one day and made everybody laugh. George and Harold are based on me, and their teachers are based on some very mean teachers I had growing up.

I was very surprised when my books became popular. It was very nice to learn that these stories, which were based on some bad things from my childhood, were now making people happy all over the world.


Why does Captain Underpants only were underwear?
- 4th Grader from NY

Because if he didn't, he'd be Captain Naked. And I'd never get away with that!


What made you think of writing books? Is it hard to become a writer? How many days does it take you to write a book?
- 5th Grade from NE

My teacher in college inspired me to write books for children. It takes a lot of hard work to be a writer, but it can also be very fun and rewarding, too. Usually, it takes one year for me to write a book. Three of those months are spent just thinking about the story, and the other three months are spent writing. The next six months are spent designing, illustrating and painting the illustrations in black and white watercolor goauche.


Hey Dav. I heard of the Captain Underpants books and I think it is very interesting. I have some questions I was hoping you can answer. Where do you get your insperation from? How did you come up with this? Where you writing a lot of stories and that is why you are a good author? When did your first book get published? When did you realize you would make an amazing author? Those are all the questions I really wanted to ask you.
- 5th Grader from CT

Thank you for all of the great questions. I've already answered some of those same questions from other kids, so I will focus on the questions you asked that I haven't answered yet:

I get most of my inspiration from my childhood. I try very hard to remember what things were like when I was in second, third, and fourth grade, and then I write from that point of view.

I was nineteen years old when I wrote and illustrated my first book. It didn't get published until I was 21, though.


Dav Pilkey, What inspired you to write about an underwear super hero? What inspired you to even write a book? It is a very funny, interesting, and good book. I love the Flip-o-Romas' Are you going to make another type of series? Please make it as funny and fun-filled as you did the Underpants series. Thank you so much (:
- 5th Grader from FL

Yes, I am working on other books besides Captain Underpants. Next year I will be making a whole book about Dog Man, a character that George and Harold dreamed up. I also am writing lots of Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot books, which are coming out now (they have Flip-O-Ramas, too). I just finished illustrating a picture book by the poet, Richard Blanco. It is called One Today, and will come out next fall.


What inspired you to write this book, I mean how can you think of a superhero in underpants? Also, have you ever wanted a superhero like captain underpants to save your life or a bad situation?
- 4th Grader from IL

When I was a kid, I always wished I had super powers. Unfortunately, I never got any. So I used to imagine that I had a giant robot friend who could save my life and help me in bad situations. That's why I created the Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot books.


I have been a fan of you for like 2343455679768765676 years. Nice job, keep going make more books and also what is the title of your next book? Oh, I never said Hi!
- 4th Grader from IL

Wow! I don't think I've ever met anybody who is 2343455679768765676 years old. You are much, much older than most of my fans. I'm glad you still like my books after all those years. My next book (which will come out in August of 2015) is called Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot.


Why did you chose to make comics to the book instead of the book being written in a first-person perspective? On top of that, why are there two little boys trying to get interviews with them? Are they really trying to get interviews with captain underpants or are they trying to draw comics about captain underpants' amazing adventures?
- 5th Grader from NJ

I chose to write the Captain Underpants series in third person because that seemed like the best way to tell the stories. That way, I would be able to comment on the stories sometimes, as the narrator, and even make fun of the stories sometimes.


Why did you pick the name Captain Underpants? How did you choose underpants, out of the entire world full of gross things? Why, of everything, would you pick underpants to demonstrate the strangeness of your character?
- 5th Grader from NC

I picked underpants because my 2nd Grade teacher said the word 'underpants' in class one day, and it made everybody laugh. I started drawing Captain Underpants that very day, and I've been writing about him ever since.


Hi Dav Pilkey I really LOVE your book and when ever I read them I think I'm IN the book. There's one question I have is why did Goerge and Harold kept the hamster and the pterodactyl? Anyway keep writing!
- 6th Grader from CA

George and Harold kept Crackers and Sulu because they love animals. I thought they'd both like to have a pet pterodactyl and a pet bionic hamster. I sure would, wouldn't you?


How do you get all those absolutely, amazingly awesome ideas? My little sister LOVES your books! Here are some questions. What is your favorite book? Why do you write what you write? Are you gonna write back to me? Very curious.
- 5th Grader from NE

Since I already answered most of your questions in this interview already, I will focus on the one question you asked that I haven't answered yet: My favorite book (that somebody else wrote) is called Walden by Henry David Thoreau. My favorite book (that I wrote) is called The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future. Thanks!


When did you start to form these ideas for the series of Captain Underpants. Did you have accomplices to help you think of these outstanding ideas? Also, did you come up with the ideas of the flip picture pages?
- 5th Grader from NC

I'd written a bunch of comic books about Captain Underpants when I was a kid, but I started forming the ideas for George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp (the backbone of the Captain Underpants series) back in 1995 (when I was 29 years old).

I had a lot of wonderful friendships when I was a kid, and those friendships certainly inspired George and Harold's relationship, but nobody helped me come up with the ideas for the series. I did that on my own.

My friends and I also made 'Flip-O-Ramas' when I was a kid. We called them 'Flip-Actions' back in those days. I'm not sure who thought up the idea for 'Flip-Actions', but I know it wasn't me.


How many more books will you make? I love your books and I don't want to not have any more new Captain Underpants books to read.
- 4th Grader from PA

Thank you for those kind words. I hope to make many, many more books, but I suppose that all depends on how long I live. I try to stay healthy, so hopefully I will live and work for many more decades, and make dozens and dozens of new books. Maybe one day you will be reading Captain Underpants to your own kids?


How many monkeys can a snake swallow in one bite?
- 2nd Grader from NC

Many studies have been done on this fascinating subject. Most recently, scientists in Walla-Walla, Washington witnessed a Siberian Blue Python (which was more than 70 meters long) swallowing fourteen monkeys in one bite. I believe that is the current record.


Where did you get the idea to write such books? Stories from your childhood with a twist?
- 5th Grader from IA

That's exactly right. All of the Captain Underpants books are based on my childhood... with a twist! The twist part is that I never hypnotized my evil principal (he really WAS evil, though), and he never got super powers, and I never saved the world. Well, maybe I saved the world a few times, but probably just once or twice.


In Captain Underpants Purple Potty People how did they invent the grow machine to make the hamster grow?
- 5th Grader from AZ

Actually, Professor Poopypants (a.k.a Tippy Tinkletrousers) invented the Goosy-Grow 4000 back in book #4. George and Harold kept it in their tree house when Professor Poopypants went to prison. Too bad their evil twins found it, huh?


Where did Zorx, Klax and Jennifer come from?
- 3rd Grader from IL

From Planet Xleqxisfp.


How did Captain Underpants survive almost getting eaten by the giant flower when he had no super powers?
- 4th Grader from WA

Fortunately, the giant, evil Dandelion of Doom didn't have teeth. It just had giant, leathery petals, which it used to try and tenderize Captain Underpants, so he'd slide down it's throat nice and easily. This process gave George and Harold just enough time to pour Super Power Juice into Mr. Krupp's mouth and save the day.


You’re my best friend and I am a nice girl. It's Thursday, tomorrow is Friday, I have no school today and tomorrow my dad is going to stay home. Even my mom. You're my favorite friend.
- 2nd Grader from NJ

Thanks.

Hooray for no school on Fridays!


Dav do you have friends that are authors because I have wanted to read other books instead of The Magic Tree House?
- 4th Grader from GA

I have the honor of knowing (and being friends with) many different authors, and they are all very nice people. If you really like Captain Underpants, I recommend that you look for this series by one of my friends:

Wiley & Grampa's Creature Features by Kirk Scroggs

This is one of the silliest series I've ever read, and I bet you'll like it, too.


Do you have an illustrator for the book?
- 5th Grader from WE

I have illustrated almost 60 books, including the Captain Underpants and Super Diaper Baby series. In fact, I illustrate ALL of my books except for one series. That series is called Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot, and it is illustrated by my friend, Dan Santat.


Your books are the most widely read among all of our children. Growing up, how important was reading to you and what impact does it have on your life now?
- Whooo's Reading from CA

I had (and still have) dyslexia when I was growing up, so reading was a real challenge for me. I always had a great love for comics, though, especially newspaper comics like Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz and Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller. Reading words and pictures at the same time really helped me with my comprehension and confidence, and that helped me to become a better reader.

I read the newspaper comics every day, and they inspired me to write and draw my own comics. If I hadn't been making comics as a kid, I probably wouldn't be making books today. So reading comics had a HUGE impact on my life.

Reading is still very important to me now, as a grown up. I still prefer stories that have pictures with the words, so I read a lot of graphic novels. I love the way that words tell part of the story, and pictures tell another part. This layered storytelling technique really draws me into a book, and helps me to connect with the stories and characters at a very deep level.


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