Confessions of a "Wimpy Kid"
Kinney’s final “Igdoof” strip, the Diamondback, Dec. 13, 1993.photo by Thai Nguyen | illustrations by Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney ’93 is just as funny a storyteller in person as he is in his mega-bestselling series of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books.
Best known during his years on campus for drawing the comic strip “Igdoof” in The Diamondback, he returned to campus in October with his mother, Patricia Kinney ’74, M.Ed. ’81, Ph.D. ’87, for a panel discussion with College of Education faculty about the motivating power of his books on reluctant young readers.
But first, he shared a series of charming, self-deprecating and insightful tales about his life, and volunteered that the three most stressful experiences he’s ever had all took place at the University of Maryland:
“I was in Gymkana, and one of the things I did—but did not do well—was I flipped over a stack of people at basketball halftime shows. The most I could clear was six people. At a Maryland-Duke game, I was going to be the first guy to flip over the stack. Somehow Testudo got involved, and he climbed on top of the stack, and his head is, you know, that big, and it made for, like, eight people. I was thinking, I can’t clear that, and I was waving him away. The whole crowd of 20,000 got on their feet and started cheering, and I just had to go for it. I did a half-flip and rolled onto Testudo and crushed all of those people.”
“I lived in Leonardtown, and had a class in what’s now Susquehanna Hall whose whole purpose was supposed to prepare you to give a 20-minute speech on the last day. I was really good at last-minute stuff, so I knew if I stayed up all night that I could do the speech. At 1 a.m., I decided to take a little nap, and I woke up seven minutes before my speech was to start. So I was running as fast as I could—it was a 20-minute walk!—while writing the speech. I’m not going to tell you how that ended.”
“During my very last moments on campus, I had finished this book, ‘The Igdoof Bathroom Companion,’ and I decided to advertise it here on campus. It was against the rules to put up things on campus, but I got the most bright neon green fliers you can imagine, and I put them on every white pillar on campus. I figured people would see them, they’d be taken down and maybe I’d get scolded. The next day I woke up and it had rained overnight, and I started walking around campus and the fliers weren’t there—the rain had soaked through the fliers and stained all of the white pillars on campus. And that’s how I left campus. I was a vandal.”
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