Lincoln Peirce is a cartoonist/writer and the creator of the comic strip Big Nate. It appears in more than two hundred U.S. newspapers and online daily at comics.com.

Lincoln Peirce lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Maine.

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Anagrams

Hi, everyone.  My apologies for being late with this blog entry.  I was asked to write the introduction to an upcoming Peanuts tribute book, and I couldn't tear myself away from that project until I'd finished it.

First things first:  I'm back from the BIG NATE LIVES IT UP book tour, and I'd like to thank all the kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and bookstore folks I met along the way.  It was the best tour yet, and even though it's good to be home, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting so many schools, bookstores, and libraries.

Now, on to today's entry!  If you've read BIG NATE STRIKES AGAIN, you know that Nate, inspired by Ben Franklin, created "Poor Nate's Almanack,"  a cartoony collection of news, gossip, jokes, and so on.  The page shown here is the "advice column" page, and it features a mystery columnist named ETHAN R. TWIG -- an anagram for NATE WRIGHT.  I hadn't thought much about anagrams until the other day, when I heard some DJs on a sports radio station talking about anagrams for famous athletes.  One of them mentioned a website where you can type in a name or a phrase and click a button.  In a second or two, the website will generate all the possible anagrams of your word or phrase.  I found the website and tried it with NATE WRIGHT.  A bunch of anagrams popped up, but of course many of them don't make much sense.  Here are a few I liked:

•    WEIGHT RANT
•    WHITER GNAT
•    THREW GIANT
•    NIGHT WATER
•    THAT WINGER

Then I tried it with my own name, LINCOLN PEIRCE:

•    PRINCE ONCE ILL
•    NO PENCIL RELIC
•    EL PICNIC LONER
•    NO LEPER CLINIC

I like this one for Nate's pal, TEDDY ORTIZ:

•    DOZED.  TRY IT!  (I added punctuation.)

Try it with your own name.  It's fun!

Wed, 03/25/2015

Big Nate Lives It Up Tour Update: Connecticut

Today started at 3:40 a.m.  I got up early to catch a 5:00 a.m. train from Union Station in Washington, DC to New Haven, Connecticut.  From there I traveled to the little town of Madison, where an acclaimed independent bookstore, RJ Julia Booksellers, has been doing a thriving business for a quarter of a century.  RJ Julia sponsored my visit on Wednesday afternoon to Mary T. Murphy School in nearby Branford.  In this particular school district, middle school starts in 5th grade, not 6th.  So my audience consisted of no 5th graders, but plenty of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders.  They were a great crowd.  Thanks to all the kids and teachers at Mary T. Murphy School!

One of the slides that's part of my PowerPoint is the character shown here:  Super Jimmy, a klutzy crime fighter I invented when I was in 5th grade.  I use Super Jimmy to illustrate a couple different things.  First, Super Jimmy came along at about the time that I was ready to stop copying the work of my heroes (like Charles Schulz) and start inventing my own characters. So I show the slide as an example of one of my early original characters.  Second, I show the slide to explain how inspiration can come from anywhere.  I created Super Jimmy as a response to the old "Batman" TV series. That show was a campy combination of action and comedy, and it got me interested in the idea of goofy superheroes.  That's what Super Jimmy is.  Yes, he does have extraordinary powers -- he can fly, he's super strong, and so on -- but he's not very bright.  Instead of making things better, he always seems to make them worse.

I never include my PowerPoint presentation when I do bookstore events, so when I talked to a standing-room-only crowd at RJ Julia later in the afternoon, I couldn't show them this picture.  Instead, I drew a fresh picture of Super Jimmy on the easel.  I also drew Big Nate (early and current versions) and Breckenridge Puffington III, one of the stars of of BIG NATE LIVES IT UP. It was a great visit, and I'd like to thank all the folks at RJ Julia, especially Karen, for welcoming me back.

This is my last blog entry of the tour.  I'll visit one more school on Thursday morning, and then I'm heading home to Maine.  More new blog entries to come next week!

Thu, 03/19/2015

Big Nate Lives It Up Tour Update: Maryland

It was a very busy St. Patrick's Day here in Rockville, Maryland.  It began this morning with a visit to St. Elizabeth Catholic School, where something happened that has never happened to me before on tour:  I gave my presentation in a church.  The students were already attending a morning Mass in the church, so Mark Crimans, the media specialist, decided that it made sense for me to go to the students instead of marching the students all the way to the auditorium on the other side of the school.  The good news was that the church was a beautiful space with incredible acoustics and a nice, big display screen.  The bad news was that this move to the church resulted in some technical difficulties with loading the PowerPoint and getting the document camera to work.  But these things happen sometimes, so I just adjusted and gave a slightly lower-tech presentation than I normally do.  Thanks to everyone at St. Elizabeth (grades 3 - 8 instead of my usual grades 3 - 5!) for being such a great audience.

In the afternoon, I was at Ashburton Elementary School in nearby Bethesda.  The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders packed the cafeteria (I think they might have referred to it as the multi-purpose room, but one of its purposes is lunch, so that makes it a cafeteria in my book) for the PowerPoint, drawing demo, and a spirited game of Big Nate Trivia.  Here are some of the questions I've asked during Big Nate Trivia on this tour:

•    What is P.S. 38's mascot?
•    Can you name four (4) of Nate's teachers and/or coaches?
•    In one of the books, Nate is hypnotized in an attempt to break a bad habit.  What is that bad habit?
•    What's the name of P.S. 38's rival school?
•    Name the members of Enslave The Mollusk and the instruments they play.

As enjoyable as those school visits were, the highlight of the day was my easel talk and book signing on Tuesday night at the Barnes & Noble on Rockville Pike.  This was undoubtedly the biggest crowd to ever attend a Big Nate event, and I really appreciate all the parents and kids who stayed up late on a school night.  I started speaking at about 7:10, and after doing some drawings, playing BN Trivia, and taking a few questions from the audience, it was about 7:45.  Then it was time to sign books, which at a typical event would take me between a half hour at smaller venues and an hour at larger ones.  Tonight I signed books for 2 hours straight!  I'm not a great judge when it comes to crowd numbers, but there were definitely more than 300 people in attendance.  There were some tired eyes in that line by the time the last few dozen people came through.  Thanks for your patience, everyone!

Wednesday is the last full day of the BIG NATE LIVES IT UP tour.  On Thursday, it's back to Maine!

Wed, 03/18/2015

Big Nate Lives It Up Tour Update: More from Cary, NC

I didn't have much of a chance today to take pictures; the one shown here is the only one I've got.  It's the front entrance of Northwoods Elementary School in Cary, North Carolina, where I met a very happy group of kids in the school cafeteria.  I was joined there by my friend Nolan from Barnes & Noble, but didn't realize at first that Northwoods was HIS elementary school; he was a student there about 20-odd years ago.  Before he introduced me to the kids, he gave a heartfelt thank you to his second grade teacher, who still works at the school, for inspiring in him a love of reading and writing.  Thank you to Renee Vaughn, Northwoods media specialist, for having everything prepped and ready to go.

After my presentation at Northwoods, it was back to the hotel room, where I spent a couple hours on the phone doing interviews with a number of radio stations in places like Flint, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona.  With those done, I was able to get a comic strip sketched and inked before it was time for my next stop.  I was a guest at Literacy Night at Kingswood Elementary School, only a stone's throw away from Northwoods.  At Kingswood, after a musical performance from the school chorus (there were a couple songs about the joy of reading, and one about Dr. Seuss), I spoke to a group of kids and parents, played Big Nate trivia, and signed some books in the media center.

But the day wasn't over!  I then jumped in a car and was driven from Cary, NC to Rockville, Maryland -- a four-and-a-half hour trip.  I'm writing this from my hotel room before turning in.

Driver facts of the day:  My first driver, Jimmy, is a former resident of Newark, New Jersey whose daughter plays Division 2 basketball for Limestone College.  The team is currently competing in the Division 2 NCAA Tournament.  Go, Saints!  My second driver, Anthony, is a former electrician from Coney Island who moved to North Carolina in 1997, where he was promptly shot in the leg while gassing up his car at a convenience store that was being robbed at the time. 

All for now!  Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Tue, 03/17/2015

Big Nate Lives It Up Tour Update: Myrtle Beach + Cary

Greetings from Raleigh, North Carolina!  I haven't blogged since Thursday night, so I've got some catching up to do.

On Friday, I was still a couple hundred miles to the south in Myrtle Beach, where I had the pleasure of visiting two very impressive elementary schools -- and I mean impressive in more ways than one.  Each had enthusiastic students, wonderful teachers, and state-of-the-art facilities.  But what most struck me was the SIZE of these places.  If you added together the number of kids at both schools, they would equal the total number of students at my COLLEGE.  (Yes, I went to a small college, but you get my point.)

My first stop on Friday was ROE -- River Oaks Elementary, where librarian David Bell welcomed me and escorted me to the school's spectacular library.  The school was built in 2012, so the whole place still has that new car smell.  David showed me some fantastic t-shirts designed by students to celebrate my visit, and then we rolled on into the cafeteria where about 300 students were gathering.  I gave my usual powerpoint (which went well despite a couple of technical problems with the microphone I was using), did some drawing with the help of a document camera, and played Big Nate trivia with the kids.  After that, it was back to the library to sign books that the kids had purchased from my friends at Books-A-Million.

Then it was on to Carolina Forest Elementary School, where I had the pleasure of eating lunch with about a dozen students, each of whom had been given a copy of the newest book, BIG NATE LIVES IT UP.  This was easily the friendliest and chattiest group of kids I've ever dined with.  Sometimes kids can be a bit shy around adults they don't know, but these students were just the opposite.  Thanks to Tanner, Van, Katie, and the rest of the kids for a most entertaining lunch.  After drawing Big Nate with a sharpie on a wall in the library (where other visiting authors and illustrators have sketched images of their own creations), I was shown the way to the gym.  There, 430 kids were waiting for me -- the biggest audience I've spoken to at any school.  Thanks to all the teachers and students at CFE for a great visit!

Friday night's event was an easel talk at the Books-A-Million store in Myrtle Beach.  There, I spoke to a smallish crowd of kids and parents, gave away a few t-shirts, and signed a whole lot of books for the store.  I also said goodbye for now to Jacquie Lee of Books-A-Million, who has been my South Carolina partner in crime during my last two book tours.  Thank you, Jacquie!  You're the greatest.

Friday's driver, by the way:  Tim, a former door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

Saturday was a travel day.  I made the three-hour drive from Myrtle Beach to Raleigh, and got some comic strips drawn.

I have no pictures of today's event at the beautiful Barnes & Noble store in Cary, North Carolina.  But it was one of the best-attended bookstore events I've ever had.  Nolan Heath of Barnes & Noble welcomed me to the store and introduced me to the folks who were kind enough to spend part of their Sunday afternoon listening to me talk about cartooning and waiting in line to get their books signed.  According to Nolan, who did an impromptu head count during my talk, the crowd numbered more than 230.  Thanks for a great day in Cary, everyone!

Mon, 03/16/2015

Big Nate Lives It Up Tour Update: Myrtle Beach & No WiFi

Hi, everyone.  I arrived at the spectacular Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort earlier this evening, but have just discovered that the entire complex has been without wifi for the past 48 hours.  This has created some irked guests (as I discovered when I overheard a conversation in the elevator), and also means that I'm typing this blog entry on my iPhone.   So this will be short!

Today I visited St. Ann's School in Sumter and Satchel Ford Elementary School in Columbia.  Instead of painstakingly typing out the details with my index finger, I'll simply say that a good time was had by all at both schools!

The name of the second school prompted me to ask:  who was Satchel Ford?  He must have been an important person to have had a school AND a street named after him (Satchel Ford Elementary is on Satchel Ford Road), but to this point, I still haven't learned who he was.  Maybe he wasn't a person at all.  Maybe Satchel Ford is a place.  Maybe it's a historic site of some kind, like the Alamo.  Maybe it's a local car dealership.

I'll continue to ponder all the possibilities here in my wifi-less hotel room.  My next blog entry won't be posted until Monday, so there should be a lot to tell you about by then!
 

Fri, 03/13/2015

Big Nate Lives It Up Tour Update: South Carolina

What a day!  I woke up in Georgia but by 9:30 a.m., I was in South Carolina.  After a quick stop to check into my hotel, off I went to A.C. Moore Elementary School in Columbia.  I was able to see a bit of Columbia during the drive, and it's a nice-looking city.  I understand that the campus of the University of South Carolina (where my niece is a freshman, by the way) is supposed to be beautiful.  Sadly, I didn't get to chance to visit with my niece.  It's spring break, and she's back home in Rhode Island.

At A.C. Moore, I was greeted by my old friend, Jacquie Lee of Books-A-Million.  She organized my visit to A.C. Moore, and did a phenomenal job as usual.  The school is an impressive place.  They have a much bigger library than most schools do, and there's student-created artwork all over the hallways.  This school also is close to my heart because they share the same mascot -- a bobcat -- with Nate's school, P.S. 38.  (And I was once a Bobcat myself!  In the Oyster River school system in Durham, New Hampshire, our mascot was a bobcat as well.)  Anyway, at A.C. Moore I arrived in time to enjoy lunch with a dozen students whose exemplary behavior had given them a chance to win a raffle.  As we ate our Chik-Fil-A lunches, I answered questions from kids like Gayle, Jackson, Nicholas, Jesus, and Molly.  After lunch, I spoke to about 200 kids, and I've never met a nicer, better-behaved group.  I guess it's true what they say about Southern hospitality!  Thanks to all the faculty, staff, and students!

After a couple hours of down time back at the hotel, I ventured out again this evening to the Richland County Public Library in Columbia.  There's a fantastic children's section there that features some stunning "Where The Wild Things Are" murals.  Jacquie organizes a lot of author events at this library, but she told me she'd never asked a children's author to participate.  So we weren't sure how many people would show up.  As it turned out, over 200 people were in attendance.  I did an easel talk, gave away 5 tee shirts, and signed an awful lot of books.  Thanks to Rebecca Thomas of the library for all her help.

And now, a quick word about the folks who provide my transportation.  The tour's only two days old, so I've only had four drivers so far.  But each, in his or her own way, has been a fascinating individual.  Would you like to meet them?

•Driver #1 is a firefighter in Cobb County, Georgia, and has only recently become a driver in her spare time.  She's also a former basketball star at the University of North Carolina who went on to play professionally for 12 years in Europe and China.
•Driver #2, a native of Bangladesh, left his family behind and came to the US at the age of 16.  After dropping out of school, he began driving for a car service and eventually started his own limousine business.  When that business faltered after 9/11, he relocated to Atlanta to start over again.
•Driver #3, who brought me from the hotel to the airport this morning, was suffering from acute food poisoning as a result of a fish sandwich he'd eaten at Burger King the night before.  After dropping me at the airport, his plan was to drive directly to the nearest emergency room.  He did not look so good.
•Driver #4 is an ordained Baptist minister, and his daughter is the current Miss Collegiate America.

Quite a line-up!  Tomorrow I visit two schools nearby, then drive to Myrtle Beach.  Stay tuned!

 

Thu, 03/12/2015

Greetings from Atlanta!

Hello from Atlanta, Georgia!  I flew here yesterday afternoon, and today was the first day of the BIG NATE LIVES IT UP book tour.  Why am I including a picture of President Obama in this blog entry?  Because he was in Atlanta today, too, doing exactly what I was doing:  speaking to students.  There the similarities between me and the President end, however.  He was giving a speech to college students about the Student Aid Bill of Rights, while I was talking to third, fourth and fifth graders about Big Nate.  I'll bet I had more fun than the President did!

I visited two schools:  Wesley International Academy in Atlanta and Westchester Elementary School in Decatur.  The schools were very different.  WIA (where I spoke to only boys) is a charter school where the students wear uniforms and receive an hour of instruction each day in Mandarin Chinese.  Westchester (where I spoke to both boys and girls) is a public school that recently re-opened on the site of the former school district offices.  The pictures above show the front entrance of WIA and a beautiful banner created by the students at Westchester.  I had a great time at both schools and want to thank some of the kids who helped me or won t-shirts playing "Big Nate Trivia":  Reginald, Solomon, Ronald, Maddie, Lain, and (of course) Nate! Thanks also to Andrea Tomlin and Sandi Dennis for their good cheer and hospitality at WIA and Westchester, respectively.

Then, this evening, I gave an easel talk and signed books at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur.  I'd been there once before, way back when I was on tour for either Book 1 or Book 2 (can't remember which), and it was great to be back.  A group of about 55 or 60 kids and parents gathered in the loft above the store for drawing, Big Nate Trivia, and Q&A.  Just as he was last time, Justin of Little Shop of Stories was incredibly helpful and accommodating.  Many thanks to one of the country's great indie bookstores for hosting me once again!

And now some fun facts about Atlanta:

•Atlanta is the fifth city to be the capital of Georgia.  Earlier state capitals were Savannah, Augusta, Louisville, and Milledgeville.
•There are over 55 streets in Atlanta with the name "Peachtree."
•And speaking of names:  Atlanta was originally named Terminus and, later, Marthasville.
•The symbol of Atlanta is a phoenix, chosen because the city "rose from the ashes" after being burned to the ground during the Civil War.
•The fastest regulation baseball game in history happened in Atlanta.  It took 32 minutes!

Tomorrow morning I get up early and fly to South Carolina.  More to come!

Wed, 03/11/2015

Hockey Break

Today I did something I hadn't done in quite some time:  I took a break in the middle of the day to play hockey with some friends.  This wasn't a full-fledged game like the ones I play on Friday nights with my Men's League team.  We weren't wearing full pads -- just skates, gloves, and helmets.  And we had the entire rink to ourselves.  It was just the three of us, skating, passing, and shooting on an otherwise completely empty sheet of pristine ice.  It reminded me of skating for hours on the pond behind our house when I was a boy.  It was great fun.

Hockey's been on my mind lately.  I just finished watching an excellent documentary, part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series, called OF MIRACLES AND MEN.  It was about the powerful Soviet national hockey team that lost to a much less accomplished squad of US college players at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.  The documentary depicts the flowering of hockey in the Soviet Union and the team-first approach to the game developed by a hockey visionary named Anatoli Tarasov.  It details the events leading up to the Olympics, and the aftermath of the Soviet team winning "only" a silver medal.  If you enjoy hockey, I highly recommend it.  But be warned:  since most of the players are speaking Russian, there are a lot of subtitles to read!

And speaking of hockey teams...the picture you're looking at was taken in 1971.  These are the DYA Rangers, second place finishers in the Durham "House League" during the 1971-1972 season.  I am the little guy sitting down on the extreme left.  I was the youngest player in the league at the time -- I was 8 years old and in third grade.  The other players were in grades 4 through 8.  Fortunately, the games were organized so that kids were matched up against other players of comparable size and ability.  So, thank goodness, I wasn't trying to keep up with kids twice my size.

This is my last blog entry until next week, when the BIG NATE LIVES IT UP book tour begins.  I'll be blogging regularly from the road, and am hoping to provide some pictures of the schools and bookstores I visit.  It should be a blast.  Stay tuned!

Fri, 03/06/2015

My Bulletin Board

For most of my life, I've had a bulletin board.  When I was a boy, that meant hanging a board in my bedroom -- it was right next to my bookcase -- and using it to post pictures of my sports heroes, favorite cartoons, drawings, and so on.  Nowadays, my bulletin board isn't in my bedroom; it's in my office.  But I still use employ it pretty much the same way at age 51 as I did at age 11.  It's a way to decorate the walls, make the room cheerier, and surround myself with things that function as happy reminders of earlier days.  (Note:  I actually have TWO bulletin boards in my office.  The one over my desk is a more practical endeavor.  It features a calendar, computer passwords, appointment reminders, and so on.  The bulletin board shown here is on the wall next to the door to the dining room, and its role is strictly to entertain.)

Here, in no particular order, is a list of most of the items on this board.  (I say "most" because I'm pretty sure I'll overlook one of two of them!)
•    A birthday card from my wife featuring the floating heads of some significant historical figures (among them Harry Truman, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau).
•    A drawing of a Ukrainian Easter egg done by our son Elias.
•    A post-it note on which is written the best review a Big Nate books has ever received, courtesy of an 8 year-old reader named Liam:  BIG NATE IS GOING TO BLOW YOUR PANTS OFF.
•    A button featuring a picture of a rodeo clown about to be run over  by an angry bull.
•    A small hand-lettered sign reading "LINCOLNVILLE."
•    A picture of my nephew Derek sporting his BUCKY shirt from the University of Wisconsin.
•    A cover to a cassette tape recording of my radio show, "South by Southwest," including a caricature of me drawn by my very talented friend, Jeff 2.  (Note:  I know three Jeffs, so I differentiate them by number.)
•    An Ellis Burks baseball card.
•    A painting by our daughter Dana of herself and a gigantic horse.
•    An advertisement from the 1950's magazine "Country Song Roundup."  The copy reads:  BACK TO YOU WITH ANOTHER RAY PRICE HIT!
•    The cover page of a small booklet Dana made when she was in first grade.  The title is FUN IN PICTURES
•    A photograph of Elias and Dana when he was 4 and she was 1.
•    Another photo, this one of Dana as a toddler with her hair in a spectacular top-knot ponytail.  We used to call this hairstyle her "spout."
•    A beautiful black, white, and red drawing by Elias depicting stars and planets.
•    A postcard depicting Christ Entering Jerusalem, part of Giotto's Arena Chapel fresco cycle.  I bought the postcard in Florence in 1988.
•    A "thank you" card from a student whose school I visited.  The card features a boy getting hit on the head with a baseball.
•    A paper mask of Abraham Lincoln on which I have fastened a pair of prop eyeglasses and an oversized fake nose.
•    Part of an illustrated story Dana created as a second grader.  The drawing shows her on the beach with flowers in the foreground.  The words below read:  "If once you walk on an island, you will never be the same."
•    A postcard showing a French boy launching himself into the River Seine in the early part of the 20th century.
•    A photograph of our family taken at one of Dana's gymnastics performances.
•    A black & white woodcut I made in 1994.
•    A drawing by Dana in which she copied two characters I'd created -- a pair of angry Russian dogs named Anton and Gregor.
•    A head-and-shoulders shot of the Man of Steel himself -- Superman.
•    A colorful heart drawn by my wife Jessica on Valentine's Day 1998.
•    A birthday card I made for Elias's 6th birthday.
•    A picture of me with one of my graduate school professors, the painter Philip Pearlstein.
•    A Topps 1964 Carl Yastrzemski baseball card.
•    A wallet-sized photo of my parents dancing at my brother's wedding in 1984.
•    A photo taken at  Cayuga Lake in 1964.  It shows all my aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mom's side of the family.
•    Two blue plastic keys that are used to adjust our top down/bottom up window shades.
•    My favorite drawing of Krazy Kat.
•    Dana's drawing celebrating my victory in the Cumberland County Apple Pie Contest in the Fall of 2004.  The caption reads:  "BAKREY:  The Special Today, APPLE PIE."
•    A postcard of a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, one of my favorite artists.
•    A birthday card I made for Dana where I glued a photo of her head onto the body of a Superman drawing I clipped from an old comic book.

Around the bulletin board, you can see the color of the wall.  It's called "shy cherry."

Only one more blog entry, and then I'll be hitting the road for the BIG NATE LIVES IT UP tour!

 

Tue, 03/03/2015