The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants (lost self-published "Captain Underpants" prototype novel; 1989)

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The cover for the book.

Status: Lost

Captain Underpants is a children's novel series created, written, and illustrated by author Dav Pilkey for Scholastic Books. The series revolves around George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two fourth graders in Piqua, Ohio, who hypnotize their principal Mr. Krupp into becoming the titular superhero Captain Underpants from their homemade comic book series. With twelve books, a spin-off series titled Dog Man, and an animated feature film released in 2017, the series continues to be a major success among kids and has earned several accolades.[1]

However, eight years before the first Captain Underpants novel released, Dav Pilkey wrote a 48-page book titled "The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants" in 1989. The novel was self-published by Pilkey himself and had small run-in stores near Kent, Ohio, though due to this brief and limited release, the novel is not readily available and is considered lost.[2]


Dav Pilkey, 1980s.

During his enrollment at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio,[3] Cartoonist, writer, and illustrator Dav Pilkey would create the first book featuring the Captain Underpants character in 1989. Titled "The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants", the novel is 48 pages long and was self-published by Pilkey, selling for 10 cents at various stores in and around the Kent area. A portion of the profits made from the limited publishing run went to Goodwill and the United Way.[2]

In a February 1989 article in the Springfield News-Sun, it was reported the novel was nearly completed, with Pilkey briefly stating "It is basically a good versus evil type of thing." It was also noted that Captain Underpants lived in Cleveland, instead of the revised book series' location of Piqua, Ohio.[4]

Specific plot details about the prototype book are unknown, though the cover (the only page currently available online) features a more angular and detailed design for the titular hero than what was seen in later versions.


Due to its very limited run, with only 25 to 50 copies speculated to ever be made, "The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants" has not been released online in any capacity since its publishing. Only one copy is known to still exist, with the cover of it being posted onto the r/CaptainUnderpants subreddit by user TheAbidingTimes on February 26th, 2020, who bought the novel during its initial run.[2] While there has been demand from other users for the copy to be scanned and released, the original poster has not been active on the site for several years.


  1. Captain Underpants page on Dav Pilkey's website. Retrieved 29 May '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Reddit post detailing a copy of "The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants". Retrieved 29 May '23
  3. The "About Dav" section of Dav Pilkey's website, archived on April 17th, 2003. Retrieved 29 May '23
  4. Associated Press (February 19, 1989). "Kid's memories become children's books". Springfield News-Sun. Springfield, Ohio. p. 14 – via

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