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

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

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More on Endpapers

After writing last time about BIG NATE endpapers, I got to thinking about endpapers from some of the books I read and loved as a child.  Here are three:

•    I hope that current editions of WINNIE-THE-POOH, by A.A. Milne with illustrations by E.H. Shepard, still include this beautiful map I remember poring over in my own copy of this book.  I happen to think that there’s something fascinating about maps — especially when they’re not drawn to scale.  The more a map looks like an authentic road atlas, the less interesting it becomes.  But a map like this one is a delight, because it includes not only the topography of the 100 Acre Wood, but pictures of the significant landmarks.  If you’re wondering what I mean by “not drawn to scale,” just look at Christopher Robin, standing on the right side of the page.  He’s very nearly as tall as the trees in the grove where Owl’s house is located.  That’s by design, of course.  If the map were drawn to scale, the characters depicted on the map would be barely visible.  So although this map might not be ideal from an orienteering standpoint, it’s fun to look at.  (Incidentally, when you do a Google Image search for “Winnie the Pooh,” you’re shown several dozen pages of the DISNEY version of Milne’s beloved bear.  How depressing.)

•    The second set of endpapers comes from Virginia Lee Burton’s MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL.  Ms. Burton, a multitalented lady, wrote and illustrated this classic in 1939.  (Even now, nearly 80 years later, it is still ranked by the National Education Association as one of its “Top 100 Books for Children.”)  I chose these endpapers to write about for two reasons:  First, I have always loved Virginia Lee Burton’s illustration style.  Her drawings are bright, simple, and unfailingly cheery.  Second, these endpapers provide information not available in the story itself.  The book, as you might remember, features a steam shovel whose owner, Mike Mulligan, has nicknamed her Mary Anne.  Mike and Mary Anne are forced out of the big city by larger, more modern shovels.  Searching for work, they find a small hamlet in which the residents are about to dig a cellar for a new town hall.  Mike claims that he and Mary Anne can do the job in a single day; the book chronicles their herculean effort to do just that.  But even as the story unfolds, and readers are treated to dozens of drawings of Mary Anne, they don’t know what her various parts are called.  That’s where the endpapers come in.  They include a diagram identifying all those parts — the boom, the teeth, the dipper, the tongue, etc. — along with illustrations depicting the actions Mary Anne takes (crowd, hoist, swing) to move all that earth.  For any child who ever played with construction toys or watched a building site in fascination, these endpapers are great stuff.

•    The third set of endpapers are part of a short novel entitled CALL IT COURAGE, written and illustrated in 1940 by Armstrong Sperry.  This is a book I read several times as a child, but haven’t thought about in many years.  As soon as I started thinking about memorable endpapers, though, the illustrations in this book came back to me in vivid detail.  The book is about a boy named Mafatu who lives on an island in the Pacific.  Having seen his mother die in the ocean when he was very young, Mafatu has grown up in fear of the sea.  He’s an embarrassment to his father and becomes a target of teasing in his village.  Ashamed, he takes to the sea alone in a canoe, uncertain of his intent or destination.  He survives a storm and is swept onto an island where he must face his fears and learn how to fend for himself.  I haven’t read this book in over 40 years, but I can still remember Mafatu's daring escape from the island cannibals.  Now I’m going to have to find this book and remind myself of some of the details I’ve forgotten — and to examine all the beautiful illustrations once again.

As I mentioned last time — no blog entry later this week because of the holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tue, 11/24/2015

Thoughts on Endpapers

My apologies to those of you who were expecting a blog entry earlier this week.  I typically blog on Monday nights, but this past Monday was very busy.  I drove our son Elias to Logan Airport in Boston to begin his long trip to Sri Lanka (he’ll be there for nine months), and then on the way home I stopped in New Hampshire to look in on my parents.  By the time I completed some work on BIG NATE BLASTS OFF later that night, I’m afraid there just wasn’t time to cobble together a blog entry.  So this is officially a one-entry week.  (And next week will be the same, because of the Thanksgiving holiday.)

The big news from here is that I’m very close to the finish line.  I’ve completed all the final chapter art for BIG NATE BLASTS OFF, which means there are only four drawings left to do:  the endpapers.  If you’re looking at that word in utter bewilderment, you are not alone.  I had no idea what endpapers were until I’d already begun work on the first Big Nate novel and my editor asked me:  what would you like to do for endpapers?  To which I responded:  What are endpapers?  Anyway, for a little help with the definition of endpapers, let’s turn to our trusted friend, wikipedia:

The endpapers of a book are the pages that consist of a double-size sheet folded, with one half pasted against an inside cover, and the other serving as the first free page.  Thus, the front endpapers precede the title page, whereas the back endpapers follow the text.

That makes four endpapers per book.  In many cases, endpapers are colored, patterned, or marbleized.  Those are probably perfectly reasonable options for some books — especially books for adult readers.  But kids’ books are a different matter altogether, and so my friends at HarperCollins and I decided that the Big Nate endpapers should feature real content.  After all, as i’ve said many times in this blog, my goal has always been to make these books fun to read.  So over the years, I’ve put a lot of thought into just how to do that.

I’ve done several different kinds of endpapers.  I’ve created one-page comic stories featuring the likes of Ultra-Nate, Ben Franklin, and Dan Cupid, Love Consultant.  I’ve used the special codes I’ve devised to pose trivia questions or provide sneak peeks about the book’s contents.  I’ve invented mazes and word searches.  But my favorite endpapers are the ones that invite kids to draw themselves.

When I was a kid, I always enjoyed front endpapers that included a nameplate, or a heading declaring something like This book belongs to… followed by a space where I could write my name.  I decided I wanted to provide that same opportunity for kids who bought a Big Nate novel.  But since I’m a cartoonist (and so is Nate), I thought it would be nice to encourage kids to not only write their names in the book, but to draw themselves as well.  That’s why each of the first seven Big Nate novels has included an invitation that kids draw themselves on one of the endpapers.  The one shown here, from BIG NATE:  IN THE ZONE, is probably my favorite.  

In each case, I make sure there’s a connection between the endpaper and the story being told in the book itself.  As you might remember, one of the major storylines of IN THE ZONE involved Nate’s band, Enslave The Mollusk.  At a certain point in the book, Nate draws a cartoon fantasizing about the band hitting it big.  The narrators of this comic adventure are a couple of characters named Buzz Feedback and Max Volume.  They were fun to draw, so when it came time to design the endpapers, I gave Buzz and Max headliner honors at the top of the page.   I left space just below that for kids to draw themselves, and still had plenty of room for an action shot of Enslave The Mollusk along with some funny song titles down below.  

I have no hints for you about what the endpapers in BIG NATE BLASTS OFF will be like, because I haven’t started them yet.  But I can promise that I’ll leave room for you to draw yourself on one of them.  That’s a Big Nate tradition!

Fri, 11/20/2015


Do you like posters?  If so, here’s a suggestion:  When BIG NATE BLASTS OFF goes on sale in mid-February, consider buying it at your local Barnes & Noble.  Why?  Because only the Barnes & Noble edition of BLASTS OFF will include a special Big Nate poster.  I won’t reveal what’s actually ON the poster, but it’s more than simply a large-format version of the book’s cover.  It has original content.  So hang in there until February.  Then you can read all about it.  That was a clue.

Anyway, now I’ve got posters on the brain.  I was a fan of posters as a kid, and there were two places in our house where posters were a major part of the decorating scheme:  my bedroom and the playroom in the basement.  (The playroom was home to the ping pong table, dart board, and table hockey game, along with our stash of modeling clay and other art supplies.)  Back then, there were often mail-order poster ads in comic books — and since I read a lot of comic books, I couldn’t help but see the ads.  There were similar ads in magazines like Sports Illustrated if you happened to be looking for posters of athletes.

Shown here are three posters that spent several years on the walls of our home.  The first, an image of the Greatest Hockey Player of All Time, Bobby Orr, was on the wall facing the door of the playroom.  In other words, it was the first thing you saw when you entered the room.  This poster probably dates from the 1969-70 season, an eventual Stanley Cup-winning campaign for the Boston Bruins, when Orr-mania was sweeping New England.  (On the same wall, we also had posters of Orr’s teammates Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson, and Gerry Cheevers.)  Personally, I would have preferred a poster that featured more of an action pose, but this is the one we had.

On the closet door in my bedroom was the second poster shown here:  the iconic Snoopy “COWABUNGA” poster.  I may be wrong about this, but I think I remember buying this poster at a school book fair — despite the fact that I had no idea what “cowabunga” meant.  As I got older, plenty of other posters went up in my room:  Molly Hatchet, Conan the Barbarian, and a cheesy tiger that looked like a prison tattoo gone horribly wrong.  But the Snoopy poster always stayed.  I think it was there until my parents sold the house.

Back down in the playroom was this life-sized Charlie Chaplin poster.  I guess that 40-plus years ago, a life-sized poster was the 1970’s version of today’s “Fatheads.”  Anyway, I bought a bunch of movie posters from a mail-order company, and this was one of them.  I didn’t have any particular affinity for Charlie Chaplin.  I just liked the poster.  It was on the wall near the dart board, so any inaccurate throws definitely put Charlie in jeopardy.

That’s all for this time.  I’m done posting about posters

Fri, 11/13/2015

Big Nate Is Going To Blow Your Pants Off!

You’re looking at a post-it note that, almost six years after it was written, remains my favorite Big Nate review ever.  As you can see, it was written by a young man named Liam who was about eight years old at the time.  He’s the son of a friend of my first editor, and had been given a copy of BIG NATE:  IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF to read (and respond to, if he was so inclined) before the book actually went on sale.  His one-sentence reaction — BIG NATE IS GOING TO BLOW YOUR PANTS OFF — embodies everything I’ve always wanted the Big Nate series to be about.  It’s fun, it’s exuberant, and it’s funny.  All of us at HarperCollins liked Liam’s quote so much, we used it on the back cover of not one but TWO future books:  BIG NATE BOREDOM BUSTER, the very first activity book, and BIG NATE:  ON A ROLL, the third novel. 

I enjoy reading reviews written by librarians, teachers, or other professionals in the publishing biz, but my favorite reviews are written by kids.  With that in mind, I’ve scoured the internet to bring to light other reviews from young readers that have kept me amused, bemused, and abused over the years.  Here’s a selection:

•    S.G., age 9, reviewing BIG NATE STRIKES AGAIN:  I’d recommend this book to someone who is flunking middle school because this book will have the answers.
•    Adam reviewing BIG NATE FLIPS OUT:  My name is Adam and I am giving you a book review.  I will always love this book because of the characters (mostly Nate).  Nate is so sloppy.  Example:  his homework always has some kind of food stain on it.  His locker is a dump.  Trash falls out every time he opened it.  That is my review for you.
•    N.W., reviewing BIG NATE:  IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF:  Ha ha, I have the same initials as NATE WRIGHT.  But that is the only good thing about this book because it should be called BIG YAWN.  
•    Anonymous, reviewing BIG NATE:  ON A ROLL:  This book reminds me of Diary of a Wimpy Kid because both books have the same author.
•    Calista, reviewing BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE:  Dee Dee is fabulous and so am I.  So we’ve got that in common.
•    Carrel, reviewing BIG NATE:  ON A ROLL:  Well, all I can say is that this book is the best book I’ve ever read in my whole entire life.
•    Anonymous kid, reviewing BIG NATE:  IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF:  This book has subplots.  Most good books have at least two or three subplots.  For an example:  Nate has a crush on a girl named Jenny, while a person Nate despises, Artur, is Jenny’s boyfriend.  Another one:  Gina, who is ruining Nate’s life by being a goody-two-shoes.  See?  Subplots DO matter.
•    Lori Ann, reviewing BIG NATE:  IN THE ZONE:  Good job, Peirce.  This one is worth the money.  I can’t stop talking about it.
•    D.M., reviewing BIG NATE:  IN THE ZONE:  To the two people who gave this book a one-star rating, I have only one thing to say, “You STINK!”
•    Jared, reviewing BIG NATE STRIKES AGAIN:  My grandmother told me the book is a waste because it has no education in it, so I showed her Nate’s comics about Ben Franklin and she was totally shocked.
•    Michael, reviewing BIG NATE LIVES IT UP:  I like it when Nate shows Gina is stupid.
•    Isabella, reviewing BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE:  Wassup my peeps?  This book is the BEST.  Everybody at my school reads this book so I decided I want to read it.  I thought it would be the biggest mistake of my life.  Well NEWS FLASH!  It’s not!  It was a great decision and I can’t wait to read the next book!
•    Josh, reviewing BIG NATE LIVES IT UP:  It was hilarious.  Breckenridge picks his nose.

Tue, 11/10/2015

Book to Movie Adaptations

I haven’t watched any television lately, but from what I understand, commercials for the new Peanuts Movie have been everywhere.  And it sounds as if the reviews of the movie have been largely positive.  That’s good news.  As a diehard Peanuts fan, I’m happy to know that people have been enjoying the movie.  And this is a great way for a whole new generation of kids to discover Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang.  But I’m not sure whether I’ll see the movie or not.  In general, I think that kids’ movies based on other sources — books, comic strips, comic books, etc. — usually fail to fully capture the magic of the originals.

I think there are all sorts of potential stumbling blocks for moviemakers who try to bring a beloved children’s classic to the silver screen.  Sometimes, the books are so rich and dense that the movies simply can’t include everything that makes the stories so compelling in the first place.  I think that’s what’s wrong with the Harry Potter movies.  J.K. Rowling’s books are chock-full of twists, turns, and subplots; part of the fun is seeing how even seemingly insignificant events, characters or details become enormously important later on.  But the reality is that a movie is almost never more than two and a half hours long.  You just can’t fit all of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince into two and a half hours.  Consequently, filmmakers must make very tough decisions about which details to leave in and which to cut out.  My lasting memories of seeing the Harry Potter movies with my kids aren’t the movies themselves; what I DO remember vividly are the long conversations we’d have after seeing the movies — marathon discussions about all the great parts of the books that were nowhere to be found in the movies.  Our family consensus was that the Harry Potter series would be much better as a TV series than as a movie franchise.  If you devoted an entire season of TV episodes to a single year of Hogwarts, you could tell the whole Harry Potter saga in seven years.  More importantly, you’d have anywhere from 12 to 22 hours per season to work with.  To me, that sounds like a better way to tell the story of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban than two and a half hours at your local Cineplex.

Here’s another way in which kids’ movies often go wrong:  the filmmakers take a very short, simple story and pump it up into a spectacle that has nothing to do with the original.  The last time I read Dr. Seuss’s The Cat In The Hat, there was no magical “portal” between the Cat’s world and the real world; no unemployed next-door neighbor; no Asian babysitter who keeps falling asleep on the job.  And there was certainly no Mike Myers, buried under layers of prosthetics and spouting a wacky Brooklyn accent.  In fact, the filmmaker had to add a truckload of scenes and characters that weren’t part of Dr. Seuss’s original vision in order to turn what is essentially a 10-minute story into an 85-minute film.  Who thought this was a good idea?  Creating a bloated, potty-mouthed movie like this is not only a disservice to the story, it’s an insult to kids’ intelligence.  Whoever made this movie and others like it (Jim Carrey in The Grinch, the voice of Tom Hanks in The Polar Express, and so on) could learn a lesson from the legendary Japanese director and animator, Hayao Miyazaki.  Miyazaki’s films have respect for their audience.  They are filled with action and adventure, yes, but also with moments of silence and stillness.  Not much silence in the Cat In The Hat movie, except for the sound of the audience not clapping.

Plenty of kids’ movies based on other sources have their hearts in the right place, of course; they just can’t match the brilliance of the original.  Charlotte’s Web has been adapted for the big screen twice — first in 1973 as a traditional 2-D animated film, and again in 2006 as a combination of live action and computer animation.  The first movie was an attempt to turn the story into sort of a musical, as Disney has done many times with beloved stories or fairy tales.  But the animation was pedestrian, and the songs mediocre.  The second movie was better, but all the CGI technology depicting the barnyard animals (not to mention Charlotte the spider herself) left nothing at all to the imagination.  The fact is that you can’t improve on perfection, and the original book (by E.B.White with peerless illustrations by Garth Williams) is perfect.  I’m sure Julia Roberts is a wonderful actress, but having her play the voice of Charlotte in the 2006 film does not enhance or improve upon the story in any way.  

But enough criticism.  I don’t mean to suggest there haven’t been any great kids’ movies based on other sources.  There certainly have been.  Here are some of my favorites.  Rent ‘em soon!

•    Howl’s Moving Castle (directed  by Hayao Miyazaki)
•    The Black Stallion
•    The Iron Giant
•    The Wizard Of Oz
•    James And The Giant Peach
•    Holes
•    Gulliver’s Travels (the 1939 Fleischer Brothers movie — NOT the 2010 Jack Black version!)
•    Coraline
•    Hugo

Fri, 11/06/2015

Nate For President!

The Presidential election is still a year away, but Tuesday I’ll be going to the polls just the same.  There’s a local election here in Portland, with a number of issues to be decided.  First, our mayor’s four-year term is up, and it’s very uncertain whether or not he will win the right to continue to serve.  There are also City Council positions to be decided, a ballot question about raising the minimum wage, and a couple of citizen initiatives regarding 1.) clean elections, and 2.) scenic beauty vs. commercial development in Portland.

But you probably don’t care about that.  Instead, you’re probably saying:  Speaking of elections, has Nate ever been part of an election at P.S. 38?  Funny you should ask.  Yes, he has.  More than once, in fact.  Many years ago, he ran for class president and his opponent was none other than his former girlfriend, Angie.  On another occasion Nate ran for class treasurer because, frankly, he needed the money.  But only once has Nate actually triumphed in an election.  Back in 2009, Nate once again ran for class president — this time, against two of P.S. 38’s more popular kids.  One was Marcus, a character who’s made a few appearances in the strip (and in the novel BIG NATE:  IN THE ZONE) over the years.  The other was a “school spirit” queen bee named Lisa.  The votes for Marcus and Lisa canceled each other out, and Nate, against all odds, was elected.  And here’s the best part (at least in Nate’s mind):  in the same election, Gina was elected treasurer, meaning she was lower on the Student Government Totem Pole than Nate was.  He became — sort of — her boss.  Nate soon learned, however, that it’s difficult to accomplish much as a sixth grade class president.  Some of his most important agenda items, like getting Mrs. Godfrey fired, went absolutely nowhere.

I’ll keep my own personal political voting record private, but I do have one very strong opinion about US Presidential elections:  the whole process takes entirely too long.  We’re a year away from the election, and many of the candidates have already been running their campaigns in earnest for months and months.  I think it’s nuts.  The fact that it takes so long means way too much emphasis is placed on campaign fundraising.  And people get bored, too.  “Voter fatigue” sets in.  There must be a way to compress everything into just a few months.  But I’m not really politically-minded, so I’m not sure how that could be done.

And since I’m not politically-minded, I can’t claim to be anything like Nate in this regard.  I’ve never even run for any sort of office, let alone been elected.  And that’s fine with me.  I’ll leave politics to people who know what they’re doing.  Or to the politicians.

Tue, 11/03/2015

More On Backgrounds

A few weeks back, I wrote about backgrounds in the Big Nate novels.  As you might remember, my point was that the consistency of the backgrounds from one drawing to the next — even when the drawings depict nearly identical scenes — really isn’t all that important.  In fact, too much consistency leads to boredom, in my opinion, because you end up with drawings that look very much alike.  So the takeaway from that particular blog entry was that I don’t spend much time worrying about whether or not my backgrounds are consistent.

BUT!…That certainly doesn’t mean I think backgrounds aren’t important.  I think they’re vital.  Not only do they create visual interest, as I wrote about last time, they do something that I think is just as important:  they provide information about the setting, and about the story that’s being told.  And that not only makes a book more understandable, it makes it better.

Take a look at the two drawings shown here.  The first is a rough drawing from the upcoming novel, BIG NATE BLASTS OFF, and the second is the final version.  In the first drawing, Nate and Randy are sitting on a bench.  Randy appears to be upset about something, and Nate is glancing at him sideways with a look of either concern or curiosity.  But what else does the drawing tell us?  Nothing, because there’s no background.  Nate and Randy could be anywhere.  The bench they’re sitting on could be in the gymnasium, the cafetorium, or anyplace else where benches are part of the surroundings.  For all we know, the two boys could even be outdoors.  Based on Drawing #1, we have no idea where they are.

Now look at Drawing #2, and the question of where Nate and Randy are sitting becomes less mysterious.  Behind them are two display cases, and even though they’re kind of far away, we can see that they contain a variety of insects — beetles in the display on the left, and what look like dragonflies or moths in the case on the right.  We can even read some of the signage inside the cases.  On the left, the words MEET THE BEETLES appear at the top of the frame; on the right, we can read part of the word FOSSILIZED along the bottom border.  Additionally, there’s a glass case in the foreground that seems like part of a larger display of butterflies in some sort of natural habitat.  Add up all these visual clues, and it seems pretty clear that Nate and Randy are sitting in a museum — maybe one devoted strictly to the study of insects, or perhaps a more comprehensive Museum Of Science.

You might be thinking:  "What’s the big deal?  The text of the book will tell the reader that they’re in a museum, so why do the backgrounds even matter?”  Well, they matter to me because, in “heavily illustrated” novels like mine, the drawings are just as essential a part of the story as the text.  The drawings and the text work in concert and, in the best of circumstances, reinforce one another.  If that’s true, then it makes no sense to illustrate a book with drawings that are essentially generic.  Imagine you’re in a bookstore, and you pick out a book.  You flip through it, glancing quickly at the illustrations to see if they intrigue you in some way, or if they yield any clues about the book’s plot.  Now imagine that all you see are characters sitting, standing or walking in front of big, blank, boring spaces — no backgrounds.  Is that going to get you excited to read that book?

When I started the Big Nate series, my #1 goal was to make the books fun to read.  The illustrations are a huge part of that, and I don’t think I’m giving readers their money’s worth if I skimp on the drawings or the backgrounds.  The rough drawing above has no background because during that part of the process, it’s not really important to add background details.  The only people seeing the rough draft are me and my editors.  But in the final art, I want the drawings to do more than just take up space on the page.  They should be fun to look at!

Fri, 10/30/2015

Comic Strip Time vs. Real Time

The first strip shown here appeared last month on September 14th.  The second strip appeared on October 20th.  The two strips represent the beginning and the happy ending of a storyline involving Nate and Trudy, the girl he met briefly at a carnival over the summer and had been looking for ever since.  Turns out she’d been looking for him, too.  Anyway, September 14th to October 20th  is about five weeks.  That’s a lot of time to devote to one continuous storyline.  And time — comic strip time vs. real time — is the subject of today’s blog entry.

This was a very eventful storyline.  After Nate and Trudy run into each other — literally! — on September 14th, here’s what happens:  Each of them is happy to have found the other.  Nate learns Trudy’s name, and also discovers that she has recently transferred to Nate’s school.  But she’s a seventh grader, not a sixth grader.  Nate finds Trudy after school and she invites him to walk her home.  It’s clear that they like one another — but then Nate tells Trudy he’s a year behind her in school.  Trudy is surprised and seems uncertain how to respond.  Nate’s feelings are hurt and he retreats, convinced that Trudy has lost interest in him.  Trudy then returns and apologizes, explaining that she just needed a few moments to get used to the idea of dating a 6th grader.  Trudy kisses Nate, and he continues walking her home.  They part company, with Nate walking on air after the two of them say goodbye. 

As I said, it took readers five weeks to follow this story from start to finish.  That’s real time.  But in comic strip time, the events depicted unfold over the course of A SINGLE DAY.  This is sometimes one of the challenges of doing a daily comic strip — dealing with the disparity between real time and comic strip time.  I was reminded of this after reading some of the reader comments at gocomics when this storyline ended.

After the October 20th strip wrapped things up, I added a few more strips in which Nate, in school the next day, basks in the afterglow of his new romance and announces to anyone who’ll listen that he now has a girlfriend.  Then on Monday, I began a week’s worth of strips about Halloween featuring Nate, Francis and Teddy trick-or-treating.  Some readers were dismayed.  “Where’s Trudy?” they wanted to know.  With Trudy and Nate now officially an item, they wanted to see more strips about the romance.  Day One of the Nate and Trudy Era had ended, and they wanted to know what happens on Day Two.

I appreciate their enthusiasm and understand their curiosity.  But I’d just finished devoting THIRTY STRIPS — that’s a lot! — to this storyline.  The last thing I wanted to do right away was add more strips about Nate and Trudy to the pile.  What if Day Two of the Nate & Trudy romance (one day in comic strip time) took another five weeks in real time to tell?   I can’t neglect all the other characters for that long to focus exclusively on Nate and Trudy.  It wouldn’t be practical.  And it would be boring, too, in my opinion.  Nate’s love life is only PART of his world, not the entire thing. 

Speaking of Nate’s world, this week’s Halloween strips are a good example of the “time difference”  I’m talking about:  all the strips are obviously supposed to take place on a single night — October 31st — but in real time, they appear between October 26th and the 31st.  Congratulate me, everybody:  I’ve found a way to make Halloween last for six days!

Tue, 10/27/2015

Today's My Birthday!

Every so often, in the comments section of the Big Nate page over at, a reader will announce: “Today’s my birthday!” Well, now it’s my turn. Today — October 23rd — is my birthday. I’m turning 52. According to a totally random astrology website I just found, here are some of the traits of folks born on this date:

You are a persuasive, interesting, and clever person. There is a mischievous playfulness about you, and you like to poke fun at more serious or pompous individuals. You have much magnetic appeal, with both sexes. You are fiercely protective of those you love, as well as passionate and highly perceptive. You are one of the most observant people around, and your understanding of human nature belies your years in age. You don't miss much that's going around you! Your wit is sharp, yet you are sensitive to the feelings of people you hold dear.

Not too shabby! And here’s my horoscope for the coming year:

This is a year for exploring possibilities, self-improvement efforts, and for strong personal and professional goals. You have an especially enterprising spirit and might initiate new endeavors. You're ready to put the extra effort into pursuing your goals that helps maximize chances of success. Watch for mental pressure and tension and make time for relaxation.

You know, this astrology stuff really is a crock. But as I’ve probably said in this blog in the past, I’ll always be a fan of horoscopes because they usually appear in the newspaper on the same page as the comics. So I always read my horoscope. And all the cheesy advice columns, too.

Have a great day, everyone — whether it’s your birthday or not!

Fri, 10/23/2015

Catching Up with Some Updates

It’s good to be back home after an extremely busy book tour through the midwest and southwest.  I’m still catching up with work after all my travels, so I’ll just share with you a few odds and ends:

First, what do you think of this BIG NATE PUMPKIN that greeted me when I arrived at Concord Elementary School in Edina, Minnesota?  I liked it. I’m a pumpkin fan.  I always spend quite a bit of time carving jack-o-lanterns every Halloween.  (In fact, if you explore the archive of past blogs and go back almost exactly a year, you’ll find some pictures of a couple of my 2014 jack-o-lanterns.)  This particular pumpkin isn’t carved, though.  It’s painted, and then pieces of cardboard and construction paper have been used to create Nate’s facial features, ears, and hair.  This “Nate-o-lantern” provided a very cheery welcome to Minnesota.  (Of course, Minnesota and pumpkins have a great history:  Charles Schulz, creator of the hilarious GREAT PUMPKIN strips in PEANUTS, was born and raised in St. Paul.)

And speaking of Minnesota, I learned a couple of weeks ago that the Big Nate comic strip has been purchased by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, one of the country’s great newspapers.  The Star Trib needed a new daily strip because Jan Eliot, a cartoonist I’ve long admired but have never met, has decided to retire her 7 days-a-week feature, STONE SOUP, and instead continue with the strip on Sundays only.  Newspapers are famously reluctant to make changes to their comics page, so opportunities to break into a market like Minneapolis (the Star Trib is ranked #14 in the country by circulation) don’t come along every day.  The paper ran a nice interview with me this past Saturday, and then on Monday the 19th, the strip began what I hope will be a long and happy run.  Thanks, Minneapolis!

The next activity book, BIG NATE PUZZLEMANIA, is in the works.  I’ve already finished the art for the front cover, and by the team you read this blog entry, I should be finished with the drawings for the back cover and spine.  Then I’ll try to knock out another week’s worth of strips (I was able to draw 12 daily strips in various hotel rooms during my 8-day tour) before beginning the home stretch for BIG NATE BLASTS OFF.  Three chapters and four endpapers left to go!

Tue, 10/20/2015