Diary of a Wimpy Kid Author Chats About New Movie

03/25/2011 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Following the box office success of last year’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes the second installment, Rodrick Rules, which hits theaters nationwide today.

The film’s cute, but “flawed” main character, Greg Heffley, is back again but this time he has to figure out a way to avoid the wrath of his older brother, Rodrick.

We recently chatted with Jeff Kinney, cartoonist and creator of the book series that started it all, about his thoughts on the movie, the characters and more. Check out our interview below:

Is Greg based on an actual person?

Greg isn’t based on an actual person, but he is based on my worst attributes or most people’s worst attributes including self-centeredness, limited world view, etc. Basically, he’s an amplification of my worst faults.

Was it important to you to create a children’s book character that isn’t always perfect?

Yes. I really wanted to create a character who seemed flawed, but in a really authentic way. Greg isn’t really a bad kid, he’s just a kid who isn’t fully formed as a person yet. A lot of the humor in the books come from Greg’s flawed point of view. I think it takes people off guard that Greg isn’t always so kind or helpful, but that’s how kids are and he’s pretty much an average kid in that way.

Do you like how Greg and the other characters are depicted on the big screen?

You can get away with a lot more on the printed page than you can on the screen. Greg is really more imperfect in the book than he is in the movie, but with a live actor we’re really trying to find the right balance for the film. And I feel that in Rodrick Rules, especially, Greg comes off as a more sympathetic character.

Did you have an idea while writing the books that combining cartoons and text would be such a successful combination?

I think most kids, boys especially, when they look at a blank page it feels like work. And if you pepper the pages with these little visual treats, if you will, than kids won’t feel like they have to work hard to connect to the story. I just remember when I was in college trying to read a psychology book and as long as there was a picture coming up, I would read through knowing I would eventually have a nice mental break. And in that same way, I try to give my readers lots of visual breaks to help draw them along the story.

Who is your favorite character?

I really like Rowley. He’s such a pure kid. I like that he’s not in a rush to grow up.

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 4 comments

Emily on

My son loves the “Wimpy Kid” books! Thanks so much to Mr. Kinney for these wonderful stories. My 8 yr old is now an avid reader, and it is all because of Wimpy Kid! I just appreciate having really good lit out there for kids his age, dealing with real-life stuff, bullies, self-esteem, etc. Amazing job! Thanks so much to Jeff Kinney!!!

Emily on

Thanks so much to Jeff Kinney for these wonderful stories. My 8 yr old used to be addicted to video games and was very behind in reading because we couldn’t find anything to ccapture his attention. My mom came home with the first of the Wimpy Kid series, and he read them all in about 3 weeks. He has now tested at reading at almost a 4th grade level- he is in 2nd grade! These stories are amazing, filled with real-life situations these kids deal with- bullies, self-esteem, family drama, etc. Thanks, Mr. Kinney!!!

Cammy on

Hope this movie is as good as the first! What great acting – really natural.

Roy Wells on

Growing up in a dysfunctional can be tough. It is even tougher when you have two dysfunctional families with stepparents. I had an evil stepmom and a parade of clowns for stepdads. I always tried to think of ways to get rid of my stepmom but I never acted on any of my plans. I found that it was therapeutic to write stories that would lampoon them. I have a new story called My Psycho Family! It is free if you have a Kindle and Amazon Prime. I hope you enjoy it.