Jeff Kinney, author of the "Wimpy Kid" novels-in-cartoons, found his creative legs at the University of Maryland, when he landed one of three comic strip slots in The Diamondback, the college newspaper. "I learned the discipline of cartooning, and I got addicted to writing for a large audience. I felt certain coming out of that school that I had found my path." His gratitude is boundless: When there was a Wimpy Kid balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last year, Kinney said, "I made sure the colors used in the balloon were white, black, yellow and red. That was definitely a nod to my years at the University of Maryland." (Kinney now lives in Plainview, Mass.)
It's been a super week for Kinney -- in two media. Movieline cited "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" as one of the five top sleeper hits of the year so far, noting its "$52.6M take — not bad for a film reliant on young mostly unknown stars geared toward children that didn't have the added benefit of being a fantasy film. By contrast, Diary 2 out-grossed the Kevin James-Vince Vaughn comedy The Dilemma ($48.4M), the Farrelly Bros.' Hall Pass ($45M), and Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch ($36.3M), which it beat during opening weekend. Score another one for the little guys."
And Time magazine named the Kinney-created website Poptropica as one of the top 50 websites of 2011 -- one of only five sites honored in the Family & Kids category.
The Time citation said: "If you've never heard of Poptropica, chances are you're a grownup. An inventive megasite for kids with a wholesome and slightly educational bent, it features quests, games and puzzles set on 20 themed islands, including Shrink Ray Island, Wild West Island and ones based on the Wimpy Kid and Peanuts franchises. As many as 10 million kids explore Poptropica each month, but the site also aims to please parents."
To visit Poptropica, click here.