11-2 | Playing with Words


Playing with Words
Dav Pilkey’s Literary Success in Humorous Language

Evangeline E. Nwokah, Vanessa Hernandez, Erin Miller, and Ariana Garza


Language play is a key component of many children’s popular graphic novels. The authors analyze the sound and word play in Dav Pilkey’s illustrated Captain Underpants series. They argue that Pilkey’s literary devices fall into two main areas of hyperbole and linguistic creativity and that Pilkey’s language shifts the reader into a carnivalesque play frame. In Pilkey’s work, the use of language contributes to a humorous disconnect between a real word and its distorted counterpart and between real worlds and a parallel sphere of hyperbolic pretend play. Key words: language play, literary devices, graphic
novels, Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey