'Dog Man' creator Dav Pilkey's learning disabilities launched his career

The 'Captain Underpants' author has ADHD, dyslexia and his mom to thank for his success.
By Lisa Tolin

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Dav Pilkey got the idea of a lifetime in second grade, when he was sent to sit in the hallway.

"I was having a lot of trouble in school," he told TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager. "I had just been diagnosed with what they now call ADHD. And I had — I have — dyslexia. My teacher didn't know what to do with me. So she was sending me out into the hallway."

Pilkey says he didn't want his friends to think of him as "the bad guy." So he drew "Captain Underpants" as a way to entertain his friends.

More than four decades later, Pilkey has entertained millions of second-graders. His "Captain Underpants" and "Dog Man" series have sold more than 100 million copies, become a movie, a Netflix series, and now, a traveling musical.

  • "Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls," $7 (usually $13), Amazon

Seeing "Dog Man" on stage was "surprisingly emotional" for Pilkey.

"Everyone was having such a good time with something that started when I was a kid. And to see it start there and to continue on here was like a dream come true," he said.

By his side was one of his greatest supporters: his mom, who took him to the library every week when he was having trouble in school and commissioned comic books after his teachers ripped them up.

"I started to associate reading with love. And it changed everything," he said.

Jenna and Dav gave a group of young fans a sneak peek of an upcoming "Dog Man" book — and a chance to create their own, adorable superheroes.

Here's hoping "Pizza Dog," "Donut Girl" and "Jerry" all hit the big time one day, too.

  • "Dog Man: The Epic Collection, $22 (usually $30), Amazon
  • "The New Captain Underpants Collection," $20 (usually $30), Amazon