Looking Back at Captain Underpants (1997 - 2015)

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Away from movies, games cartoons, today we will review a book. Yes, we love to hate books. But Captain Underpants was one book that was loved and hated in equal measure. It was always top on the list of banned books. But I owe my reading culture to the book. It was among the first books I read and enjoyed. I hardly finish an entire series, but this one, I did. And yes, am talking about the original black and white version of the '90s.

Nonetheless, it is one of the most interesting books I ever read back in the days. Before I go any further, I would like to say the name Captain Underpants is just terrific. It is the kind of name that you will never forget however much you try to.

Historical Background of the Book Series.

Captain Underpants was an Illustrated Children’s book series by Dave Pilkey. It featured two fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins living in Ohio, and Captain Underpants – a superhero from the boys’ comic series that accidentally became real when George and Harold hypnotized their principal Mr. Krupp.

Shortly after that, in the third book in the series, Mr. Krupp gains superpowers by drinking some alien juice. Today, the novel series contains 12 novels, two activity books, and 11 spin-offs. They included:

  • The Adventures of Captain Underpants (1997)
  • The Attack of the Talking Toilets (1999)
  • The Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) (1999)
  • The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants (2000)
  • The Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman (2001)
  • The Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets (2003)
  • The Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers (2003)
  • The Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People (2006)
  • The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers (2012)
  • The Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers (2013)
  • The Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 (2014)
  • The Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot (2015)
Back in 2006, this book was awarded the Disney adventures Kid’s Choice Award. The books have been translated into over 20 languages with over 80 million copies of the book sold internationally.

In 2017, Dream works obtained rights to make an animated version of the book. The animated series was received well by the fans. We will talk about that later in this review.

After the book finale in 2015, Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot released a spin-off of the series. The spin-off

The Characters
pngfind.com-captain-underpants-png-5966617.pngGeorge Beard and Harold Hutchins - Two fourth-grade pranksters, who are best friends and next-door neighbors and the main protagonists of the series. They started a comic book company called "Treehouse Comix, Inc.", and every so often at school they sneak to the secretary's office to make copies of their latest comic book and sell them on the playground for 50 cents.
mr krupp.pngMr. Krupp – The cruel principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School and the antihero of the series (usually when no real dangers are happening). He’s usually depicted as an overweight man. Mr. Krupp has a deep hatred of children and also tries to protect the students at Jerome Horwitz Elementary from George and Harold's antics. Why he’s so mean to children, in general, is unknown, but it’s hinted that it’s because of his own troubled and dysfunctional past. Krupp's birthday is on April 1; he has a younger brother named Jasper (Kipper's father), and his parents are named John and Bernice.
captain-underpants-flies-in-the-sky.pngCaptain Underpants – The alter ego of Mr. Krupp, when he’s hypnotized to think he’s "Captain Underpants," a character created by George and Harold. He only wears white briefs and a red cape with black polka dots. Whenever Mr. Krupp hears the sound of fingers snapping, he turns into Captain Underpants, and he turns back into Mr. Krupp when he’s soaked with water. Captain Underpants gains superpowers in the third book and possessed superhuman strength, durability, flight, and "wedgie power" where he can pull unlimited underwear from his utility waistband.
706bb3c81dad543e3be89697ec5c2b5e.jpgMelvin Richard Sneedly – George and Harold's nerdy nemesis. He’s an annoying snitch, a mechanical genius, the school brainiac, and a tattletale. His parents, Cindy and Gaylord, are professional scientists and are canonically neglectful. It is thought that his parents' neglectful behavior and snobby attitudes contribute to his anger and snobbiness. In the Netflix series, he is thought to have been inventing since he was a baby and has a bizarre sense of humor, laughing at videos of rotting fruit.
Monster_Evil_Sulu.png1598033629924.pngSulu and Crackers – George and Harold's pets. Sulu was Melvin's abandoned pet bionic hamster after he yelled at Sulu which offended him but afterward was adopted by George and Harold. Crackers is their pet Quetzalcoatlus they got when they traveled back in time with Melvin Sneedly's time machine.

At around the year 2013, Dav Pilkey started re-doing the books in full color. The latest being “Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet that was released in full color this year (2020).

The books have had a fair share of controversies, especially after they were rebranded. The books were challenged by the American Library Association. The series was explicitly prohibited, according to the US Library Association because of its insensitivity inappropriate content for the targeted age group. They were seen to encourage children to be disobedient to authority.

In one of its publications, the US Library Association declared Captain underpants as the number 1 banned book. Another ban incident occurred in 2015, because of a scene where Harold was portrayed as a gay man. This led to the complete ban of the book at the elementary school level.

I was dismayed by the number of parents who thought that Captain Underpants was an inappropriate book for kids. Some said that it should be for 18 years and older kids. When the first few books came out, I was still young and was looking forward to buying the books at the school fair. Well, the book had some childish humor, but that was right about it. Nothing seemed out of place for me. It was a good fun-filled book.

Parents were scared that the books will either turn their kids into bullies or make them disobey the house or school rules. But this book was made for fun, not to be emulated. I read almost all the series of books, but I never bullied anyone in school.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017)

Twenty-seven years later, a movie was made that was based on the Dav Pilkey book series. It had a good nostalgic connection to those who had already read the books.
The Plot.

Just like the book series, it features two fourth-grade buddies in Piqua, Ohio. They were George Beard and Harold Hutchins. The duo always brought joy to their school, Jerome Horwitz Elementary School by pranking the staff.

In the movie, the duo also creates comic books about a superhero they called Captain Underpants who had superpowers but was wearing only underwear and a cap.

The two sell the idea to the school mates in their treehouse using their brand name Treehouse Comix inc. George and Harold’s pranks end when they’re caught messing with a toilet invention called the Turbo Toilet 2000. The toilet was made by the smart Melvin Sneedly, the local popular snitch in the school. It gives their mean principal Mr. Benjamin (aka Benny) Krupp an opportunity to put the boys in different classes and ruin their friendship.

George hypnotizes Mr. Krupp by a 3D Hypno Ring that he got from the cereal box. This was supposed to prevent the principal from separating them. The boys thought the principal looked like captain underpants, and so they hypnotized him to be so.

The boys soon become aware of the extent of their actions when Captain Underpants starts to cause trouble around Piqua. They took him to their treehouse. They found out that they can transform him back to Mr. Krupp by splashing water on him and back to Captain Underpants by snapping their fingers.

When they realized that Mr. Krupp will not hesitate to separate them, they decided to stick with Captain Underpants but insisted that he should be dressed up like Mr. Krupp as a secret identity. Captain Underpants agreed to this plan.

The shift in the personality of Mr. Krupp appealed to Edith, the quiet lunch lady at the school.

The plot of this show was simple, yet captivating. If you enjoyed your childhood in the ‘90s, you could easily relate to the character and the nostalgic feeling that they evoked. The script had some new improvements, to adopt it to the new demographic of kids. But most of the old-time humor was not tempered with.

Bottom line

I love this book; it was one of my favorite books growing up and was one of the first books I ever read that made reading fun. The school setting made it interesting for kids to back in the ‘90s when reading was generally hated by many.

It is a good piece that can be adopted to help kids develop a reading culture.


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Ultra Geeze
Aug 11, 2020
Missed out on it personally i was too old.but i've seen a few of the youngins in my life have these on the bookshelf


Omega Geeze
Jul 13, 2019
Bro I still have my first captain underpants book from my first book fair! I love that series!!