Dav Pilkey is Publishers Weekly Person of the Year

Publishers Weekly has named Dav Pilkey their 2019 Person of the Year.
Dav is the author/illustrator of the hugely successful Captain Underpants series,
and has moved on to the just-as-successful Dog Man graphic novels.

Pilkey’s Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, the ninth book in his popular children’s novel series, published in 2012, features a comic strip made by the book’s incorrigible pranksters George and Harold, the stars of the series. This comic-within-a-novel marks the first appearance of Dog Man, Pilkey’s lovable crime-fighting superhero, who is surgically constructed from the body of a cop and the head of his police dog companion after they were both injured in a typically Pilkey-style zany accident.

Four years after the character’s first appearance, Pilkey published Dog Man, his first full-on graphic novel (written and illustrated, ostensibly, by George and Harold once again). The response from Pilkey’s already sizeable army of fans has been overwhelming, allowing him to follow up the 14-title Captain Underpants series—which is 20 years old and has more than 90 million copies in print—with another megaselling graphic novel series.

This month Graphix released Fetch-22, the eighth and newest title in Pilkey’s series, with a first printing of five million copies. In its first week, Fetch-22 sold more than 312,000 copies, according to NPD BookScan. And in September 2020, Graphix will publish the next installment: Grime and Punishment.

Since Dog Man’s debut in 2016, more than 26 million copies of the first seven books in the series have been printed, according to Scholastic. In 2019 alone, Graphix says it’s printed more than seven million Dog Man books (not including Fetch-22) for the U.S. market. For Whom the Ball Rolls, released in August 2019, has sold nearly 40% more copies than its predecessor, Lord of the Fleas, which was released in August 2018, according to the publisher.

Pilkey’s switch from prose novels to full graphic novels has given a sizeable boost to the graphic novel category. He “has been a huge comics fan his whole life,” Saylor notes. “He was happy that Scholastic had a graphic novel imprint that he could be a part of, and as a result he’s raised the profile of graphic novels across the nation and across the world.

Read Publishers Weekly profile of their 2019 Person of the Year.