Captain Underpants author to visit Parramatta

Children's author Dav Pilkey will visit Parramatta's Riverside Theatre for the Sydney Writers Festival on May 24.

He has written and illustrated many popular, award-winning books for children including the Captain Underpants series, which has sold more than 70 million books worldwide.

He told the Sun about writing comics and how Captain Underpants was born.

Where was the idea for Captain Underpants born? 

It all began when I was in grade 2 (about eight years old). My teacher used the word "underwear" in class one day, and all of my classmates laughed. That event inspired me to draw my first picture of Captain Underpants.

How much do 'The almost completely true adventures of Dav Pilkey' deviate from the true ones?

The comic autobiography you're referring to is pretty accurate, up until the scene where my evil high school teachers get eaten by a giant monster. 

Did you read many comics and books while a student? What were your favourites? 

I was more into newspaper comic strips. I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz and Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller. 

What comes first for you when writing another book - drawing or words?

The title always comes first, then the words. I do the illustrations at the end, after the story is completely written.

Who is your favourite Captain Underpants villain? Why?

I have a great fondness for the Turbo Toilet 2000 because he's really fun to draw. He's got a very short temper, too, and I love making him angry.

 I wanted to be a writer when...

When I was a freshman in college, my English professor complimented my writing and urged me to continue. I'd never been encouraged as a writer before that. It was a very big deal for me.

You know you're a writer when.... 

Your character shows up in MAD Magazine. 

If you could have a super power what would it be?

I've already got one! I think reading is the greatest superpower of all. It gives you the ability to travel to strange worlds, meet anyone you choose (including dead people and imaginary beings), and have adventures you'd never be exposed to otherwise.

 If you were a superhero like Captain underpants, what would you wear? 

Probably lots of flannel and polar fleece. I like to stay comfortable and warm.

What about the captain underpants series do you think is so appealing to the children who read them?

I think kids enjoy the humor and the art, but they're really drawn in by the theme of power. Most of the time, kids feel pretty powerless. Adults are always telling them what to do, and restricting them from doing what they want. So kids really respond to stories where children are in charge. It's pure wish-fulfillment. 

How much does your daily life influence the plot of your books? 

My plots are inspired by my childhood more than my adulthood. I was a kid who was very much like George and Harold (the main protagonists of the Captain Underpants series). I was always making comic books and constantly getting into mischief. 

■ Ahead of his arrival in Australia, Dav has been busy hand-drawing thousands of collector cards. All children will lave the event with a hand-drawn original artwork from the author.

Dav Pilkey: Captain Underpants Ahoy! is on Saturday, May 24 at Riverside Theatre, Church Street, Parramatta, 4pm- 5pm. Tickets are $55 for a family, $19 for adults, and $14 for children under 16.

Bookings: 8839 3399

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