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Captain Underpants, Dog Man created in Grade 2 detention, author says

Beloved children's author Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants and Dog Man, struggled with ADHD and dyslexia in school, and started drawing and writing to cope.

Children's book author Dav Pilkey, struggling with ADHD and dyslexia, started writing stories to cope

Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants, has created a new crime-fighting hero, Dog Man, who has the head of a dog and the body of a human. (Scholastic)

Here's an origin story for the ages: some of the most beloved characters in children's literature were created in school detention.

Captain Underpants and the part dog-part human crime fighter Dog Man were created in a second grade hallway, according to children's book author Dav Pilkey.

"I had a lot of problems when I was in school back in the day ... I had ADHD, I had dyslexia, my teacher didn't know what to do with me so she sent me out in the hallway," explained Pilkey.

Pilkey started drawing and writing to cope.

"I'm sort of recycling a lot of ideas from back when I was a second grader," he laughed.

The Captain Underpants series revolves around two grade schoolers living in Ohio, and the eponymously named comic book hero who they accidentally bring to life.

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Pilkey's first book about Captain Underpants came out nearly 20 years ago, and children immediately responded to its silly humour. The series — including 13 books and multiple spin-offs — has sold millions of copies worldwide.

"I had a feeling that kids might like it," he said. "And I'm so happy that it's still popular."

Most of all, Pilkey is happy to be a role model for kids who face similar struggles as him.

"Their children are finally feeling there is hope, perhaps [seeing] there is some opportunity at the end of the rainbow."

Beloved children's author Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants, spoke with CBC's The Early Edition about his new hero, Dog Man. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

His recently released book Dog Man is the latest spin-off of the series.

Dog Man follows a crime-fighting police officer — half-man and half-dog — and his dealings with his arch-nemesis — a cat named Petey.

"If you like dogs and you like cats, you'll have a good time."

Dav Pilkey speaks tonight in Vancouver, at 7 p.m. PT at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 2550 Camosun Street at 10th Avenue. Tickets are required.

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Dav Pilkey, author of books Captain Underpants and Dog Man