Jeff Kinney is a successful cartoonist, producer and game designer in addition to being the bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid children’s series. His collection is a global phenomenon, selling 75 million copies, translated into over 30 languages, sold in 40 countries. But, as we will discover, it was not an overnight success.
Jeff grew up in Fort Washington, Maryland with an older brother, an older sister and a younger brother. From a young age he fancied authors Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and J.R.R. Tolkien. Later, when he attended the University of Maryland, his creative juices began to flow. He created Igdoof, a character that became a comic strip for The Diamondback, his campus paper. After a move to New England in 1995, he began working on the Wimpy Kid idea during 1998.
His idea did not reach an audience until FunBrain posted an online version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid in 2004. It became an online success with 20M+ views in just over 3 years. The popularity of the story led to a printed version in 2007 by Amulet Books. The rest as they say, is literary history, including 11 follow-up publications and 3 feature films.
Around the time his first book was hitting the presses, he began work on designing the now wildly successful game website, Poptropica, that would provide kids with a fun yet educational outlet. The role-playing game design transports 6 – 15 year olds to a collection of fictional islands where they embark on quests that present them with challenges and thought-inducing obstacles.
Jeff went on to feature in TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009. All things considered, not bad for a kid from a town of just over 23,000. He presently lives in beautiful Plainville, Massachusetts with his wife, Julie and their two sons, Will and Grant.
We are happy to share with you a telling interview with the brilliant creator of the enigmatic favourite, Greg Heffley.
How old were you when you first created something you wanted to share? Was it a watershed moment for you?
I was in the fifth grade, and I had drawn a giant mural of dragons and warriors in colored inks. It was a big moment for me. I unfurled it for my class upside down as a joke, but it didn’t work. Everyone thought I just wasn’t that bright.