There was certainly nothing wimpy about the crowd that turned out to see bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney, recently. The New York Comic Convention (called Comic Con) is always packed with thousands of comic book fans, many dressed like their favorite comic book characters. So many came to hear Kinney speak at the convention on February 8, his presentation had to be moved to a bigger room. ”This is the largest crowd I’ve ever presented to!” said Kinney, who came to Comic Con to release his latest book in the Wimpy series.
Comic Con is a convention dedicated to showcasing new video games, books, comics, and cartoons. It is one of the largest comic conventions in the U.S. This year more than 77,000 people attended!
This convention of all things comic is held in the Jacob Javits Center, a humongous building with transparent glass-like walls supported by giant metal beams. The convention features computers and game systems you can interact with, as well as the creators and characters from your favorite books and comics. However, since it is such a fun place, it is really hard to get into. In fact, tickets for Kids Day, when Kinney launched his book, sold out in an hour!
It was certainly the perfect place for Kinney to begin his nationwide tour promoting his newest book in the series, The Last Straw— especially since he began his career as a cartoonist. In fact, the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid began as an online cartoon.
Now popular with kids, Kinney told Scholastic News that his first version of the series was written for adults. ”I wrote it as a reflection on their childhood,” he said.
What IS a Wimpy Kid? Interesting words: wimpy and diary. They are not words commonly used by middle school boys. Kinney said he likes the word wimpy because it is a funny word and right away the reader knows Greg, the “wimpy” kid, is not a perfect character.
In the series, Greg’s mother buys him a red diary. Greg is quite embarrassed by it, which is why Kinney decided to use that as the book title.
Kinney said none of the characters are based on real people, but some parts of the book are related to real incidents. ”I pull the material from my childhood—funny things other people have done,” he said. “Some I just make up.”
If he had to choose, Kinney’s favorite character would be Rowley, Greg’s best friend. Rowley acts a bit young for his age and is sometimes slow to catch on to what’s happening. Readers love him for his honesty. ”He is a pure, good kid,” Kinney said.
Both girls and boys relate to the characters and are big fans, even though the main characters are boys. ”I know boys well enough, how they act and behave, so that makes it easier to write a book about a boy, rather than a girl,” Kinney said. He includes girls as characters, but he writes about them from Greg’s point of view.
During his interview with Scholastic News, Kinney offered some advice from Greg Heffley for kids going into middle school. ”It won’t last long; life will get a lot better!” he said. “Try to have fun. Middle school is tough for everyone; luckily it will be quick.”
— Matthew S., Kid Reporter
Photos Courtesy of Matthew Spana