March 25, 2011 02:00 PM

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Following the box office success of last year’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes the second installment, Rodrick Rules, which hits theaters nationwide today.

The film’s cute, but “flawed” main character, Greg Heffley, is back again but this time he has to figure out a way to avoid the wrath of his older brother, Rodrick.

We recently chatted with Jeff Kinney, cartoonist and creator of the book series that started it all, about his thoughts on the movie, the characters and more. Check out our interview below:

Is Greg based on an actual person?

Greg isn’t based on an actual person, but he is based on my worst attributes or most people’s worst attributes including self-centeredness, limited world view, etc. Basically, he’s an amplification of my worst faults.

Was it important to you to create a children’s book character that isn’t always perfect?

Yes. I really wanted to create a character who seemed flawed, but in a really authentic way. Greg isn’t really a bad kid, he’s just a kid who isn’t fully formed as a person yet. A lot of the humor in the books come from Greg’s flawed point of view. I think it takes people off guard that Greg isn’t always so kind or helpful, but that’s how kids are and he’s pretty much an average kid in that way.

Do you like how Greg and the other characters are depicted on the big screen?

You can get away with a lot more on the printed page than you can on the screen. Greg is really more imperfect in the book than he is in the movie, but with a live actor we’re really trying to find the right balance for the film. And I feel that in Rodrick Rules, especially, Greg comes off as a more sympathetic character.

Did you have an idea while writing the books that combining cartoons and text would be such a successful combination?

I think most kids, boys especially, when they look at a blank page it feels like work. And if you pepper the pages with these little visual treats, if you will, than kids won’t feel like they have to work hard to connect to the story. I just remember when I was in college trying to read a psychology book and as long as there was a picture coming up, I would read through knowing I would eventually have a nice mental break. And in that same way, I try to give my readers lots of visual breaks to help draw them along the story.

Who is your favorite character?

I really like Rowley. He’s such a pure kid. I like that he’s not in a rush to grow up.

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