Jeff Kinney, the cartoonist-author behind the hugely successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, was strongly affected by the news of the May tornadoes in Oklahoma.
He was traveling that night and caught the news coverage while waiting on a delayed flight.
“I felt devastated by what was happening,” he said. He was especially saddened by the loss of life and said that the tornado stayed with him. Unlike most people outside the community, he didn’t simply go on with business as usual.
Weeks after the storms, Kinney still thought of those children and the huge loss of property to their schools and communities. He was motivated to help them restore their libraries.
With the collaboration of a few creative helpers, he found a way to contribute to the healing process.
His first step was to contact some of his friends in the publishing world. He reached out to fellow cartoonist-authors Lincoln Peirce, author of the Big Nate series; Stephan Pastis of Timmy Failure fame; and Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants.
“I wanted to reach out to fellow authors like me — novelists whose DNA is in comics. I know Lincoln (Peirce) and Stephan (Pastis). These cartoonists are all heroes in my house because they write great books kids love to read,” Kinney said.
On Saturday, these four cartoonist-authors will sit down and discuss what inspires them and then take questions and answers from their fans. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Moore Public Schools Foundation and have been earmarked for the particular purpose of rebuilding the school libraries. Dav Pilkey, who will meet Jeff Kinney for the first time at the benefit, said, “I feel very honored to be able to participate and be included in a group of artists I admire very much, and [all] for such a worthy cause.”Along with the ticket sales, each publisher has donated 200 autographed copies of his book. There will be one-of-a-kind posters and an original piece of artwork from each of the cartoonists that will be given away as raffle prizes. All funds from the raffle, book and poster sales will be donated, too.
Once the other authors were committed, things happened rather quickly.
Kinney got in touch with Gary Shaffer at the Tulsa City-County Library, who, according to him, was “instrumental in helping [them] build this program.”
Shaffer then made connections with the Pioneer Library System, the sponsor of the event, along with the Metropolitan Library System and several local companies.
“I’m really excited to visit Oklahoma and meet fans of the series,” said Kinney.