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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New York Comic Con

Hello, Big Nate Fans!
 
I’m guest blogging today because Lincoln is very busy…he’s out on tour right now, and when he returns home he’s finishing the final art for the very last chapters of Big Nate In the Zone!
 
So while he’s away, I thought I’d tell you about the AWESOME time I had at New York Comic Con last weekend, meeting lots of Big Nate fans! There were 130,000 people at NY’s Comic Con this year, and so many in crazy costumes—I spied at least 25 Supermen, 5 Spidermen, Batman, a zombie Alice in Wonderland, Felix the Cat, Catwoman, The Little Mermaid, and a sea of Harry Potter look-alikes. People came from as far away as Hawaii to check it all out.
 
Sunday was Kids’ Day, and at the HarperCollins booth we had tons of kids and parents come and help us draw more panels to be added to our giant Big Nate comic strip. As you know, we’re attempting to break the world record for the longest comic strip ever, and we’re getting closer! There were some very talented young artists who joined in the fun and were serious experts in Big Nate trivia. And they were dressed up as well—two of our helpers came as Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss! When I asked our helpers who their favorite Big Nate characters were, most of them answered Nate, because he likes to draw comix just like them. I met plenty of future cartoonists there, which is always exciting.
 
Now, all I have to do is figure out my costume for next year’s ComicCon…maybe Nate’s best friend Francis, or my personal favorite, Dee Dee the drama queen? I just can’t decide…!
  
Alyson, the Big Nate Editor
Fri, 10/18/2013

Go Sox!

You could probably tell when I blogged about the Red Sox last week that I'd be paying close attention to the baseball playoffs. (For me, "close attention" means listening to the games on the radio. I can work on the drawings for BIG NATE IN THE ZONE while listening to a game; but if I'm watching on TV, it's impossible to get any work done.) Sunday night's game was about three hours of misery, followed by about 15 minutes of complete euphoria. And this picture illustrates the most exciting moment of the game -- and the season, for that matter. In fact, it might have been the most exciting moment in ANY Red Sox season of the last several years.
 
The Sox had lost, 1-0, the previous night, so they were desperate for a win. But for most of the game, it didn't look good. Boston's pitcher, Clay Buchholz, was struggling. The Tigers' pitcher, Matt Scherzer, held the Sox without a hit for the first five innings. The Sox looked pathetic. Boston fell behind 5-0, and even after pushing a run across, it was still 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Then, somehow, the Red Sox managed to load the bases with two outs. David Ortiz stepped to the plate, and with all of Fenway Park hoping for a miracle, he sent the first pitch into the Red Sox bullpen. Detroit's right fielder, Torii Hunter, made an all-out leap for the ball, missed it by inches, and tumbled over the fence. This picture shows Hunter flipping over the fence as a Boston police officer (there's always a police officer posted in each bullpen) raises his arms in celebration. Ortiz's grand slam tied the game, and ten minutes later, in the bottom of the ninth, Boston won the game on a Jared Saltalamacchia single that scored Johnny Gomes. The ballpark went absolutely crazy.
 
How would Nate Wright feel about this turn of events? He'd be thrilled. Although I've never been specific about what town Nate lives in, astute readers of the comic strip have figured out that he lives in Maine. And Maine is Red Sox country. Nate's a huge Sox fan, as am I, and I've included Red Sox references in the comic strip many, many times over the years. At the top is one from back in March.
 
Obviously, at the time Nate wasn't too happy with the Sox for paying Shane Victorino so much money.  But he's had a great year and has been a real fan favorite. This Sunday page appeared on March 10th (during spring training), which means that I drew it way back in December of last year. Even an optimistic fan like me couldn't have imagined during the offseason that Boston would be one of the four teams left standing in October. Let's hope the Sox can keep the momentum going!
Tue, 10/15/2013

Update on Big Nate: In the Zone!

It's been awhile since I've given you a BIG NATE IN THE ZONE progress report. First of all, here's what the cover is going to look like. Nate's obviously competing in a race, which might give you a clue as to what the book could be (partly) about. He's looking confident, which may (or may not) be an indication of how he's doing in the race.
 
Speaking of racing, it always feels like a bit of a race when I'm nearing the finish of a book. There's a due date, and making sure I complete the book by that due date is very important. If I don't make my deadline, it could mean that HarperCollins can't publish the book when they said they would -- and that would make for some unhappy bookstores, libraries, and readers. So I've got to make sure I'm sticking to my schedule. Today I was able to do two-and-a-half pages worth of finished art. That's five drawings, the last of which was the final drawing of chapter 10. Only 26 more pages to go!
 
Chapter 10 went pretty quickly, for two reasons. First, it's a short chapter -- only 16 pages. Second, the drawings aren't all that complicated. Most of them depict only two or three characters, and the backgrounds are pretty straightforward. The remaining 26 pages will be a different story: a lot of multi-character drawings, and a lot of action. And don't forget, I also have to write a two-page "sneak peek" about Book 7. The next four weeks will be very busy, especially since during one of those weeks, I'll be touring some bookstores and schools in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. So I'll keep plugging away. I haven't missed a deadline yet!
Fri, 10/11/2013

Boston Red Sox

It's 2013, which means that this year is the 20th anniversary of a forgettable season of Red Sox baseball: 1993. The team wasn't awful that year, but it wasn't very good, either. The Sox finished with 80 wins and 82 losses, which is pretty much the definition of a mediocre ball club. (The '93 season, however, was an improvement over the previous season, when the team finished 73 and 89, their worst performance since 1966.)
 
As I've told you before in previous entries, when I was younger I often chronicled the disappointments (and occasional triumphs) of the Red Sox by drawing comics about the team. Sometimes I did stories about actual games (like Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, one of the most horrible, gut-wrenching experiences of my sports-watching life), sometimes I created fantasy scenarios. (I drew many, many comics about the Red Sox playing the New York Yankees in a one-game playoff, as actually happened in 1978. But in my versions, the Red Sox always won. And Reggie Jackson was always the goat.) And sometimes, as I did in this comic, I drew "spring training" comics, looking forward to the upcoming season.
 
The picture you see here isn't the entire comic. That would take up a lot of space, and it's hard to read anyway because the writing is so small. But the tenor and tone of this comic was generally tongue-in-cheek. I was pumping up the team as if the season ahead was full of promise, but once you begin reading, you realize that the team isn't very likely to be successful. For one thing, they had Butch Hobson, a not-very-bright former Red Sox third baseman, as their manager. For another, they had acquired some overpaid and past-their-prime players like Andre Dawson to rescue the team from the division basement. And they didn't have a lot of personality, either. As a sports fan, you can forgive your team for being mediocre if they are a lovable group of guys who try hard. But the '93 Sox didn't have a lot going on in the "lovability" department.
 
Twenty years later, things are much better. The 2013 Red Sox are in the playoffs and, even though they lost tonight to Tampa Bay on a ninth inning walk-off home run, they still hold a 2-1 series lead. New England has World Series fever, and the team is a bunch of hard-working guys, many of whom have grown shaggy beards over the course of the season. It makes them look like a bunch of pirates. But there's ANOTHER group of pirates in the playoffs, too -- the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose series against the Cardinals is tied at two games apiece. I'm hoping for a Red Sox vs. Pirates World Series!
Tue, 10/08/2013

Middle Names

Tonight at supper with our daughter Dana and her friend Chloe (who is staying with us for 10 days while her parents are in Jolly Olde England), the conversation turned to middle names, a subject near and dear to my heart. For some reason, middle names have always fascinated me. In fact, one particular middle name -- see the picture -- plays a very important part in BIG NATE FLIPS OUT. Poor Francis. No wonder he wants to keep it a secret.
 
I had similar feelings about my own middle name while growing up. It's Carret -- pronounced "cuh-RAY." It's French. And I didn't care for it. First of all, it wasn't a "normal" name, like Michael or David. It was exotic. Second, it didn't sound like it was spelled, just like my last name. Most people who saw my middle name in writing assumed it was pronounced "carrot." And third, I was named for my dad and grandfather, which meant that I was Lincoln Carret Peirce III. I always thought it was ridiculous to have that "III" after my name. It seemed fussy and sissified. To make matters worse, my parents insisted that my brother and I answer the telephone using our full names. It was embarrassing to answer the phone by saying, "hello, this is Lincoln Carret Peirce the third speaking." (Eventually, I had an epiphany and realized I could just pick up the phone and say "hello," like everyone else on Planet Earth.) My brother had it much easier than I did in that department, by the way. His full name -- Jonathan David Peirce -- sounded much less dorky over the phone than mine.
 
I'm pretty certain that my tortured relationship with my own name was what led me to give my character such a simple name when I started the comic strip. Nate Wright is a pretty straightforward name. Two syllables, almost impossible to mispronounce. Unconsciously, I was probably giving him the sort of name I always wished I'd had. And Nate has no middle name to complicate things, although that doesn't stop him from wishing for an interesting middle name. A few years ago, I did a series of strips in which Nate tries out a few different middle names. Among the most memorable: Caesar, Maximus, and Funkmeister.
 
When we had to decide on middle names for our kids, my wife and I decided to go with family names. For our son Elias, we chose the middle name Chappell, from my side of the family. And Dana's middle name is Haywood, from my wife's side.
 
If you have a middle name you don't like, keep your chin up. Remember, in the real world, middle names are almost never used. If you play your cards right, your friends might never find out that your middle name is Butthurst!
Fri, 10/04/2013

Drawn Together

Writing Big Nate books has blessed me with a lot of wonderful and memorable experiences. But I think it's safe to say that at no point in my entire life have I ever dreamed of posing with a giant foam-core cutout of my cartoon pal, alongside three renowned author/cartoonists, on the basketball court at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Go, Sooners!

The foam-core characters in this picture are Greg Heffley, Captain Underpants, Big Nate, and Timmy Failure. The slightly-more-lifelike guys standing behind them are their four creators: Jeff Kinney, Dav Pilkey, yours truly, and Stephan Pastis. We were in Oklahoma for the "Drawn Together" benefits I mentioned in a previous entry. Here's how it went.

We met in Tulsa on Friday. I already knew Jeff and Stephan very well, but had never met Dav before. He splits his time between Seattle, Ohio, and Japan, so it makes sense that we've never run into each other. Right next to our hotel was a convention hall called the Cox Center, and that's where we entertained a crowd of 700+ on Friday night. Each of us showed a powerpoint, and following that we answered a few questions and raffled off some original artwork along with some comics treasuries generously donated by Andrews McMeel. And Harper Collins donated a total of 400 copies of "Big Nate Flips Out". Thanks to my friends at both publishing companies for stepping up in such a generous way!

I really liked the other guys' presentations, and so did the audience. Stephan went first, and his slideshow was very rapid-fire, with a lot of clever wordplay to go along with the visuals. About half his time on stage was devoted to his comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, and the other half to his debut novel, "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made". Jeff followed with the story of his journey from aspiring cartoonist to best-selling author, and he gave the crowd a behind-the scenes look at how he creates his drawings on a tablet called a Cintiq. I went next, and then Dav Pilkey finished up, speaking very movingly about using the power of creativity to surmount obstacles, and reading part of a "DogMan" adventure from an upcoming book. I especially liked the way he did all the voices during his reading. Following the show, the four of us sat down at a table and signed posters created specifically for the event for anyone willing to stand in line.

The next day, we repeated the drill for a crowd of about 1,100 people in Norman. But beforehand, we had the chance to meet some of the families from Moore, Oklahoma, who'd been most directly affected by last spring's tornadoes. The can-do attitude of the kids, parents, teachers and librarians was inspiring for all of us.

Then, before we did our sound check, signed our books, and put on the show, we got the chance to shoot some baskets on the floor where Sooners like Blake Griffin, Mookie Blaylock, and the late, great Wayman Tisdale once played. I must say, my 3-point shooting was wretched, but I did sink a very nice Kareem Abdul Jabbar skyhook from the top of the key. It was a great afternoon.

After that, we toured part of the region that had been decimated by the tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma. There's already a lot of rebuilding going on, which is hugely encouraging. But there's no escaping the destruction, and it was heartbreaking to see the memorials to those who lost their lives at Plaza Towers Elementary School. Later, in Oklahoma City we toured another sobering reminder of a past tragedy: the memorial plaza at the site of the former Edward P. Murrah Federal Building, which was bombed on April 19, 1995.

I owe a huge thank-you to Jeff Kinney for inviting me to participate in this event, and to the other cartoonists and friends/coworkers who helped make the weekend such a special one.  We're hoping to reunite next year and do some more fundraising in another part of the country. 

 

Tue, 10/01/2013

Etching

A very short entry today, because I'm getting ready for my trip to Oklahoma for DRAWN TOGETHER, the fundraising events to benefit Moore, Oklahoma school libraries. I'll be in Tulsa on Friday and Oklahoma City on Saturday along with my friends Jeff Kinney, Stephan Pastis, and Dav Pilkey. In about nine hours, I'll be on an airplane, winging my way to Tulsa (by way of Chicago).
 
Anyway, since I'll be flying tomorrow, I thought I'd show you the one and only drawing I ever did about airplanes. Actually, it's not exactly a drawing. It's more like an etching, and I did it in third grade. I remember our art teacher handing out these index card-sized pieces of black "scratch paper." You make the image not with a pencil or pen, but with a stylus (which is like a long needle). At the time, I was very interested in World War I fighter pilots, because of "Peanuts" (Snoopy's imaginary dogfights against the Red Baron), and also because my grandfather served in World War I as a pilot in the 141st Aero Pursuit squadron. His commanding officer was the great Princeton athlete Hobey Baker, for whom the award for the Player of the Year in college hockey is named.
 
I remember being very proud of this etching; I thought I'd done a pretty good job of making the airplanes look pretty realistic, considering I know very little about planes. I've kept it all these years; it's on the bulletin board over my desk.
 
In my next entry, I'll tell you all about my weekend in Oklahoma! 
Fri, 09/27/2013

Say Cheese!

It's almost that time of year when school pictures are taken. If you're still in school, I hope yours comes out better than Nate's did. If, like me, you're no longer in school, you can thank your lucky stars that the trauma of school picture day is behind you.
 
I'm sometimes asked by people about the character known as SCHOOL PICTURE GUY. (He has played only a small role in the books thus far, appearing briefly in one of Nate's comics in BIG NATE FLIPS OUT. But in the comic strip, he's a semi-regular character.) They want to know if he's based on a real photographer from my childhood. The answer's no. Even though I have a very sharp memory for childhood events, I remember absolutely nothing about the people who took the photos over the years. All I remember is that, as you stood in line waiting for your turn, you were given a plastic comb to neaten up your hair. For many of us, that was a losing battle.
 
The picture I remember most vividly was from my senior year in high school. My mother, perhaps thinking that my senior picture should reflect a certain dignity, insisted that I get "dressed up" for the day. I wore a dark brown corduroy jacket that my brother had outgrown and one of my dad's ties. A month or two later I got the finished photo, and it was horrible. Not only did I look bad in my borrowed clothes, but I was flashing a not-very-convincing fake smile. I really didn't want to see such a wretched photo splashed all over the pages of the yearbook, so I did something I'd never done before: I signed up to get my picture re-taken. This time, I wore a lighter-colored jacket and a turtleneck instead of a shirt and tie. I'm not sure I scored too many fashion points, especially with my circa 1980 ready-for-action disco haircut, but it was a much better picture. At least I was smiling like I meant it.
 
Good luck! Say cheese!
Tue, 09/24/2013

Oklahoma, OK!

Are you planning to be in Oklahoma next weekend? If so, you might be interested in joining me and three other cartoonists at one of two fundraising benefits to help rebuild the school libraries of Moore, Oklahoma.  Those three other cartoonists are Jeff Kinney ("Diary Of A Wimpy Kid"),Stephan Pastis ("Timmy Failure," "Pearls Before Swine")and Dav Pilkey ("Captain Underpants"). We'll be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Friday, September 27th, and Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday, September 28th. For more information, visit www.drawntogetherbenefit.org
Jeff Kinney was the driving force behind these events, and a few weeks ago he asked me for a "group" drawing, showing several "Big Nate" characters, to be included on a commemorative poster. Well, after looking around a bit, I realized I didn't really have anything that fit the bill. Most of the drawings from the chapter books are too specific -- they might depict a scene that makes sense in a book, but wouldn't necessarily look good on a poster or t-shirt. I needed something more generic. So I whipped up this drawing.
 
As it turned out, the drawing was a little too wide, so we ended up altering it: we got rid of Mrs. Godfrey and just focused on the kids. Imagine how happy Nate would be if he could erase Mrs. Godfrey so easily!
Fri, 09/20/2013

BNITZ-7-126a

You might remember that back in late June, I gave you a sneak peek at a drawing from the upcoming BIG NATE IN THE ZONE. That drawing, which showed Principal Nichols getting hit in the head with what looked like a bottle, didn't provide any real clues about the book's storyline (what fun would it be if I gave it away?), but maybe it inspired you to imagine a story of your own. Anyway, since it's still almost 6 months until the book is published, I thought it was only fair to give you another sneak peek. 
 
This drawing's "official" name is BNITZ-7-126a. The capital letters, BNITZ, indicate the book title. The next number, 7, is the chapter in which this drawing appears. 126 is the page number, and the a at the end means that, on this particular page, this is drawing a. There is also a drawing b at the bottom of the page. (On rare occasions, there will be a page in a Big Nate book with THREE drawings on it; in those cases, there's a drawing c.)
 
So that tells you WHERE in the book this drawing is. And speaking of WHERE, it's clear that this drawing is set in a classroom. But I haven't answered the other "W" questions: who, what, and why? Let's see if I can shed any light on those.
 
WHO: We can identify four characters in the drawing. Chad is right up front in the middle, Nate is right behind him, and Gina is in her usual spot at the desk behind Nate. Francis is off to the right. None of the other characters are kids we recognize. To use a movie term, they're "extras." They're not stars, co-stars, or even bit players. They're just filler.
 
WHAT: Clearly Nate and his classmates are surprised and confused about something, but the picture doesn't give us any hints about what exactly is going on. They all seem to be looking at a single sheet of paper. Are they all looking at the SAME paper, or is it different for each of them? Is it a test? A homework assignment? Something else?  
 
WHY: None of the kids are smiling, so I think it's safe to say that whatever has caught them off guard isn't something they're happy about. Why might they be reacting this way? There's no teacher shown in the drawing, so we're not even sure what classroom the kids are in. (But using our powers of deduction, we can conclude that it's NOT the art room. The kids sit at tables in the art room, not desks.)
 
Are you as baffled as Nate and his classmates? I thought you might be!
Tue, 09/17/2013