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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Frisbee or Flying Disc?

This isn’t the greatest photo I’ve ever taken, but you’re looking at the world’s first Big Nate frisbee.  (Actually, it’s not an official frisbee.  It’s a flying disc.  More on that later.)

I’ll be armed with some of these colorful items later this month while visiting schools and bookstores in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Houston, Albuquerque, and Phoenix.  They’ll be among the prizes kids can win by playing Big Nate Trivia.  A nice alternative to the usual t-shirts and books.  Should be fun!

I didn’t create this drawing exclusively to adorn Big Nate frisbees, by the way.  It originally appeared on the cover of a collection of comics called THE CROWD GOES WILD.  But on the book cover, Nate’s disrupting Artur and Jenny’s picnic lunch by diving for a FOOTBALL.  In this case, the football’s been replaced, appropriately enough, by a frisbee.

As I mentioned earlier, though, the item you see here is NOT a frisbee.  Perhaps I should capitalize that.  It’s not a Frisbee.  Frisbee is a brand name, registered to the Wham-O toy company.  Not all flying discs are Frisbees, just as not all cars are Toyotas.   But whenever I see people playing catch with a flying disc, I refer to it as a Frisbee.  That’s when you know you’ve invented an extremely popular product — when the brand name essentially BECOMES the name of the item itself.  Frisbees aren’t the only products to achieve this status, of course.  When you need to blow your nose, chances are you ask for a Kleenex, not a facial tissue.  If you cut your finger, you probably search the bathroom cabinet for a Band-Aid, not an adhesive bandage.  And you clean your ears with a Q-Tip, not a…um…whatever those little fuzzy-ended stick things are called.

There’s another reason I’m excited to write about that great American invention, the Frisbee:  it’s an important part of the next novel, BIG NATE BLASTS OFF.  One of the book’s main storylines involves an epic game of Ultimate Frisbee.  Or maybe I should just call it Ultimate.  Back when I first learned the game, everyone called it Ultimate Frisbee; but now, as I understand it, most people just call it Ultimate.  And it’s become extremely popular.  I think I might have even heard something about it becoming an Olympic sport.  Anyway, in all honesty the Big Nate flying disc shown here wouldn’t work very well in a real game of Ultimate.  It’s not heavy enough and would likely get blown off-target by even a slight breeze.  But as a prize giveaway, it’s great!

Fri, 10/02/2015

The Dual Lives of Big Nate

Over in the comic strip world, Nate is on the verge of a new romance with Trudy, a girl he met very briefly a couple months ago at the county fair.  The two of them ended up sitting together on a carnival ride called The Flamethrower, and Nate was immediately smitten.  But as soon as the ride ended, Nate lost Trudy in the crowd.  After trying in vain to track her down during July and August, Nate was delighted to run into her (literally) at P.S. 38 once the school year began.  The good news:  Trudy has transferred from St. Pat’s, a private parochial school.  The even better news:  Trudy seems just as happy to have found Nate as he is to have found her.  But there’s a  potential stumbling block:  Trudy is a seventh grader, and doesn’t yet realize that Nate is only in grade 6.  An age difference of one year isn’t a big deal to adults, but for kids, the gap between sixth grade and seventh can seem pretty significant.  How will Trudy react when she finds out that Nate’s a year behind her?  Time will tell.

Why am I writing about Nate’s love life?  Because this storyline points out the fact that even though the Big Nate comic strip features the same characters as the Big Nate novels, they’re two separate entities.  So, at the same time that I’m working on a comic strip storyline about Nate falling for a girl named Trudy, I’m also working on a novel (BIG NATE BLASTS OFF) in which Nate has a crush on a girl named Ruby.  Are you wondering why I didn’t strive for consistency and make Nate fall for the same gal in both formats?  Well, that’s more complicated than it sounds.  You see, I started writing BIG NATE BLASTS OFF in December of 2014, but the book won’t be published until February of 2016 — fourteen months later.  Now let’s say I wanted the events of the comic strip to synch up with those in the novel.  That would mean introducing a character named Ruby into the comic strip, and timing her appearance to occur in February when the novel is published.  Well, I haven’t even started thinking yet about the comic strips that are going to appear in February.  I’m currently working on strips for late November.  And even if I DID get the timing to work, would I recreate the same storyline in the comic strip that I’d already written in the novel, just for the sake of consistency?  That would be kind of pointless.  And not much fun, either, from a writing standpoint.

The fact is, there are really three different ways to digest Big Nate stories.  1.)  You can read the strip as it appears in your local newspaper and on gocomics.com.  If you do that, it means you’re reading only one new strip per day.  To learn what happens next, you have to wait 24 hours.  2.)  You can read a Big Nate novel.  If you do that, it means you’re reading a story that’s separate from the events of the comic strip, and you can read the entire book in one sitting.  3.)  You can read a collection of Big Nate comic strips.  If you do that, it means you’re reading strips that originally appeared in the newspaper several years ago.  So the strips aren’t “current.”  But you don’t have to wait for the storylines to unfold one day at a time.  You can read what was originally a 3-wek storyline in a matter of minutes.  

Depending on what book you’re reading, Nate might be leading his classmates in a track & field competition against Marcus (BIG NATE:  IN THE ZONE), or he might be joining Marcus’s posse in an ill-fated attempt to be cool (SAY GOODBYE TO DORK CITY).  Mrs. Godfrey might be falsely accusing Nate of drawing on a desk (BIG NATE LIVES IT UP), or she might be on a semester-long sabbatical (GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE).  So as you can see, I’d drive myself crazy if I tried to keep the details of Nate’s life consistent across the different formats.  I’ll just focus on trying to tell good stories, and worry about the details later!

Tue, 09/29/2015

Brainstorming

Many cartoonists claim to be tired of a certain question, simply because so many of us are asked it so frequently.  The question is:  Where do you get all your ideas?

Personally, I don’t really mind the question, but I’ve never had a very interesting answer.  I usually just tell people that although on rare occasions an idea may be inspired by a real-life event, the vast majority of my ideas occur to me when I’m sitting on a chair in my office doing nothing — except trying to think up ideas.  Sometimes during these skull sessions I jot things down on a pad of yellow post-it notes.  Other times, I have a clipboard holding a few sheets of typing paper.  And other times, I have one of my small sketchbooks with me.  That’s what you’re looking at here.  The image shows two facing pages of one of my sketchbooks.  The actual size of each page is 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches.

As you can perhaps tell, there’s only one little drawing here that relates to Big Nate:  a sketch of Coach John in the upper right-hand corner.  But very nearly all of the WRITING is Big Nate-related, because that’s how I work when I’m brainstorming — by writing down snippets of dialogue and trying to build those few words into a 4-panel comic strip.  Usually, as I’m fiddling around with the dialogue, I’m also doodling kind of absent-mindedly.  That’s why the drawings often have nothing to do with the dialogue I’m composing.  I’m not trying to match the drawings to the words; I’m just drawing whatever pops into my head.

The image is probably too small for you to read the words (not to mention the fact that my handwriting often gets pretty sloppy in my sketchbooks), so here’s some of the dialogue I wrote on these pages:

•    “When I’m famous someday, everything I ever touched will be worth a FORTUNE!”
•    “How much for the car?”
•    “Can you really afford to take that chance?”
•    “CHESTER, my man!  How about signing this petition to create a student lounge?”
•    “A punching bag?  No way!”
•    “It’s not fair!  I’ve never even BEEN to Disneyworld!”
•    “She took me on a tour of a mothball factory.”


And here are descriptions of a few of the drawings:

•    two lawn gnomes
•    a pirate (with a hook, a peg leg, and an eye patch
•    a much smaller pirate — this one’s a dog
•    a strange, quasi-cubist portrait of a bearded man, with the following words written in the surrounding grid:  WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM? and I SAID DON’T LOOK AT ME.
•    a fellow with a cowboy hat singing into a radio microphone
•    a bathtub containing a strange ladder/sculpture (and a rubber duck)
•    animal mug shots featuring a rhino, an ostrich, a bear, and a monkey
•    a cheery, pudgy little kid saying “I’M HERE, GANG!”, unaware that a bucket of water is being dumped on his head


And did any of these ideas lead to actual comic strips?  Yes, indeed!  But I won’t tell you which ones.  You’ll have to work that out for yourself!

Fri, 09/25/2015

Super Nick

The Big Nate chapter books have been translated into a bunch of different languages, and every so often my friends at HarperCollins send me a package of foreign editions.  In this most recent batch, there were Big Nate books in Slovak, Hungarian, Hebrew, Dutch, Romanian, Greek, and German.  The one shown here is the German edition of BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE.

The covers of most foreign editions are usually virtual replicas of the US editions, with the only difference being the language used.  But this particular German publisher always tweaks the cover design a bit and creates something a little different.  So let’s dissect this cover.

We’ll start with the title.  Instead of BIG NATE, he’s called SUPER NICK.  As I recall, way back when HarperCollins made a deal with the German publisher, the folks from Germany said:  Nate is a very uncommon name in Germany, and we think the books would sell better with a name that more German readers would be familiar with.  Can we call him Super Nick?  HarperCollins asked me about it, and my answer was to shrug and say:  Sure, if they want to call him Super Nick, they can call him Super Nick.  It didn’t really matter to me as long as the story wasn’t affected.  Now, what about the rest of the title?  In English, it’s GOES FOR BROKE.  In German, it’s Packt ein, ihr Knalltüten!  According to the German-to-English translator I found online, that means PACK UP, YOU GOOFBALLS!

Then there’s the artwork.  This cover uses the same template this publisher has employed in the past:  they use the original drawing from the US edition (Nate holding a Bobcats pennant, bursting out of the page), and then line up snippets of illustrations from the book’s interior in a diagonal row.  But I’m often bemused by their choices.  How and why do they select the images to use on the cover?  It’s hard to tell whether it’s a series of carefully considered choices, or a grab bag of random selections.  From left to right, here are the images they use:

•    Nate’s anguished scream when he learns that he and his P.S. 38 classmates must temporarily attend Jefferson Middle School.
•    Dee Dee, wearing her outlandish Carmen Miranda costume, pouring a drink at the snack table during the Beach Party dance.
•    Francis looking at a laptop computer.
•    Nate’s reaction when Dee Dee agrees to go to the dance with him (even though he didn’t mean to ask her).
•    And finally, placed atop the line of images is a picture of Dee Dee dressed in a bobcat costume — only the publisher has “flopped” the image.  In the original drawing, which appears in chapter 9, Dee Dee is facing to the left.  Here, the publisher has reversed the image so that she’s looking to the right.

I prefer the cover of the US edition, but that doesn’t mean I dislike the German version.  It’s fun to see the foreign editions that feature their own designs, and I enjoy trying to figure out why they might have made the choices they did.  Sometimes it’s clear, and other times it’s a mystery.  Or, as they might say in Deutschland:  Es ist ein Geheimnis!

Tue, 09/22/2015

Inconsistent Backgrounds

The production of a book — especially a book that includes as many pictures as a typical BIG NATE story — is a team effort.  I was reminded of this yesterday, when I received some art queries from my editors at HarperCollins.  What’s an art query?  Good question.  I’ll tell you all about it.  
Nobody — not an editor, not an art director, and certainly not an author/illustrator — wants a book to be published with mistakes in it.  I’m not talking only about misspellings or typographical errors.  I’m also talking about ART mistakes.  A book like BIG NATE LIVES IT UP contains hundreds of drawings.  So during the roughly six months it takes me to make that many drawings, there are plenty of opportunities for me to mess up.  The most common mistakes involve issues of consistency.  Let’s say there’s a drawing of Randy Betancourt on page 34 in which he’s wearing his usual black sneakers with two white stripes.  Now let’s suppose Randy appears again on page 35…but his sneakers are plain white.  Well, that would mean I made a careless mistake, and simply forgot to color in Randy’s sneakers in the second drawing.  And the fact is, things like that DO happen from time to time.  But that’s where editors come in.  There are people at HarperCollins whose job it is to look very carefully at all my drawings for just those sorts of mistakes.  If and when they find them, they send me an art query which might sound something like this:  “Randy’s shoes are black on page 34, but white on page 35.  Want to fix?”  And I respond in the affirmative.  I don’t want mistakes like that in any of my books, and over the years, my hawk-eyed editors have discovered several such inconsistencies which we’ve then been able to fix before the book goes on sale.

But there are times when consistency isn’t all that important — at least not to me.  Take a look at the three drawings shown here.  They appear on pages 54, 55, and 56 of BIG NATE LIVES IT UP.  All three depict Nate and his friends sitting at a table in Mr. Rosa’s art room, and the vantage point in each drawing is very similar:  the viewer is a short distance away from the characters, looking across the table at them.  But now check out the backgrounds:

•    In the first drawing, the background includes a long row of cabinets on which there are a couple of paint pots.  On the wall behind Nate, we see (moving from left to right) part of a landscape painting with the name “Casey” written in the corner, a picture of a man and a dog, an abstract drawing that’s partially hidden by the speech bubbles, and part of a sign reading “PLEASE CLEAN SINK.”
•    In the second drawing, there is no sign of the cabinets, and the wall behind Nate is decorated with two entirely different pieces of student artwork.  Also, there is a large piece of plaster missing from the wall, behind which the wood lath is visible.
•    In the third drawing, the cabinets still have not returned, but a large shelving unit has appeared behind Teddy.  The two pieces of student artwork partially visible on the wall are also new.

So, at this point you might have come up with an art query that goes like this:  “If all three of these drawings show the art room from a nearly identical vantage point, why are the backgrounds so different?”

And my answer is:  “I don’t think it’s important for backgrounds to be consistent.  In fact, I think consistent backgrounds are kind of boring.”

First and foremost, I want my drawings to be interesting to look at, and backgrounds are a big part of that.  I see backgrounds as opportunities to create visual interest, instead of stage sets that have to be consistent from panel to panel.  If I’d maintained 100% consistency in these drawings, I would have ended up with three illustrations on three successive pages that looked almost identical.  I think that’s boring.  It’s much more enjoyable for me — and hopefully, for readers — to see pictures that are unique from page to page.  It doesn’t in any way affect the flow of the story if the cabinets behind Nate disappear from one drawing to the next.  And it can be fun to examine the illustrations carefully to look for quirky little things I might have hidden among the background elements.  When you draw as much as I do, you’ve got to find ways to keep things fresh.

But editors still have to make sure that whenever there’s an inconsistency in a Big Nate book, it’s because I WANT it to be there.  This brings me back to yesterday, when HarperCollins sent me some art queries about BIG NATE BLASTS OFF.  Several of the queries pertained to the wall behind Mrs. Czerwicki’s desk in the detention room.  In one of the drawings, a sign reading QUIET PLEASE is clearly visible, and in the other drawings, it’s nowhere to be seen.  They asked:  Do you want to add the QUIET PLEASE sign to the other drawings for consistency?  I’m sure they already suspected that my answer would be no, but they still have to make the query.  That’s part of an editor’s job.

So when BIG NATE BLASTS OFF comes out in February, have fun looking at all those inconsistent backgrounds!

Fri, 09/18/2015

New Book Out Today + Coach John

The latest collection of Big Nate comic strips, WELCOME TO MY WORLD, goes on sale today!  And in a few weeks, I’ll be on the road, visiting schools and bookstores in several spots around the country.  Do you live near one of these venues?  If so, I hope to see you in October!

•    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11th, 2:00 pm:  BARNES & NOBLE, HAR MAR MALL, 2100 NORTH SNELLING AVENUE, ROSEVILLE, MINNESOTA  
•    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 6:30 pm:  GREENFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY, 5310 W. LAYTON AVENUE, GREENFIELD, WISCONSIN  
•    WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 5:00 pm:  BLUE WILLOW BOOKSHOP, 14532 MEMORIAL DRIVE, HOUSTON, TEXAS
•    THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15th, 6:00 pm:  BOOKWORKS, 4022 RIO GRANDE BLVD NW, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
•    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16th, 6:00 pm:  CHANGING HANDS BOOKSTORE, 300 W. CAMELBACK RD., PHOENIX, ARIZONA


And now let’s dive back into the archives for the first appearance of another beloved (or not) character:  COACH JOHN!

If you’d asked me yesterday when Coach John first appeared in the comic strip, I don’t think I’d have been able to remember.  But I found the answer earlier today, while reviewing strips from 2001.  During the summer of that year, Nate and Teddy attended soccer camp together.  One of the attractions of this particular camp was that it was co-ed, and Nate had visions of romance dancing in his head.  And in fact, Nate DID find romance during soccer camp, with a girl named Kelly from arch rival Jefferson Middle School.  What brought them together?  They were both goalkeepers, so over the course of the soccer camp storyline, they spent a lot of time together doing specialized goalie drills.  For Nate, that was the good part — getting closer with Kelly.  But there was a downside as well:  the man in charge of the goalkeepers was the maniacal Coach John.  The strip shown here, which dates from July 5th, 2001, is Coach John’s debut appearance.  A couple things I noticed right away:  He isn’t as fat here as he becomes later, and he’s missing his trademark armpit sweat stains.

At this point, I had no plans for Coach John to become a permanent part of BIG NATE.  I saw him as a camp counselor whose role would last only as long as soccer camp was going on.  But when you really enjoy a character — when you like drawing him and find him easy to write for — you usually find a way to bring that character back.  A few months later, when P.S. 38 was in session again, I started thinking about ways to re-introduce Coach John to readers.  But how?  The only logical role for him to play was as a gym teacher…but Nate already HAD a gym teacher, Coach Calhoun.  I certainly didn’t want to get rid of Coach Calhoun.  To the contrary, I thought the very reasonable Coach Calhoun and the borderline psychotic Coach John could act as different ends of the Phys Ed spectrum.  So I created some sort of excuse for Coach Calhoun to miss a few days of school — I think he had his appendix out — and Coach John arrived as a substitute.  He just happens to be a substitute who never left.  At some point, I think I went to the trouble of explaining Coach John’s back story:  he had once been P.S. 38’s full-time gym teacher but had retired a number of years earlier.  Retirement didn’t suit him, though.  So now he’s back in sort of a vague, part-time capacity.  But he has trouble adjusting to the kinder, gentler Phys Ed of the 21st century.  As was made clear in this Sunday page from just a couple days ago, Coach John is old school all the way.  For your sake, I hope you’ve never had a gym teacher like Coach John!

Tue, 09/15/2015

An Unlikely Story

Hi, everyone.  My apologies for not posting a blog entry earlier this week.  It was Labor Day, and in the grand tradition of that great holiday, I decided NOT to labor.

Before I weigh in on the strip shown here, I want to tell you about an upcoming event.  Next Saturday, September 19th at 1:00 pm, I’ll be appearing at a bookstore in Plainville, Massachusetts called An Unlikely Story.  A bookstore visit is always exciting, but this one is doubly so.  An Unlikely Story belongs to my friend and colleague, Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series.  Jeff’s a huge supporter and admirer of independent booksellers, and recently he decided to become one himself.  He purchased a historic — but quite run-down — building in the center of town, and set about the monumental task of transforming it into a top-notch bookstore.  The pictures I’ve seen online look beautiful, and I’ll get the chance to check it out for myself next weekend.  I’ll be doing a presentation, answering questions, and signing books.  If you live near Plainville, stop on by!  A word to the wise:  the presentation itself is sold out, but you can still register to get books signed.  Here’s a link to the store’s website:  http://www.anunlikelystory.com.

Now, let’s take a look at this Big Nate strip, which dates from May of 1999.  It’s not the very first appearance of Principal Nichols — at least I’m pretty sure it’s not — but it’s close.  As is often the case when I stumble across earlier versions of familiar characters, I’m surprised to see how different he looked back then.  I’ve blogged before about the fact that I drew Principal Nichols’s ears inconsistently for a while there, and in this strip, the ears you see aren’t the ears he has now.  Instead of the “double bump” ears he currently sports, back in 1999 his ears were a simple, rather pointed loop — like Francis’s ears.  Another major difference:  his glasses.  The 2015 Nichols we know and (ahem) love has square glasses.  But in 1999, they were round.  (I was probably just following the trends in eyewear.  I’m a glasses wearer myself, and my own glasses were bigger and rounder back then, too.)  His specs also were positioned lower on his face, because that’s where his nose was.  If you find a current picture of Principal Nichols, you’ll see that his nose is closer to the top of his head than the bottom.  

And last but certainly not least:  Principal Nichols has put on a few pounds since 1999.  His body is much rounder now than it was then; he’s more of a spheroid.  But he’s not alone.  All the characters in “Big Nate" who carry some extra weight — like Coach John, School Picture Guy, and Nate’s neighbor Mr. Eustis — have become heavier over the years.  That’s not anything intentional on my part.  It’s just that, as you draw characters over an extended period of time, your style tends to gradually change.  Your hand tends to repeat lines and shapes that it’s comfortable making; so, almost imperceptibly, the way you draw a certain character shifts.  I’ve pointed out before that Nate’s actually shrunk over the years — he’s shorter and more compact than he was when I started the strip.  Principal Nichols has the opposite problem:  he’s grown.  Could be time for a weight-loss plan!

Fri, 09/11/2015

Another Letter from Kozo: Dennis the Menace

Time for another email exchange with my pen pal from Japan, Kozo. Kozo sent me this “Dennis the Menace” panel, along with this query:

Hi Lincoln,

I can’t understand why Dennis likes school which is supposed to be unliked by most school children.

Is he telling the reason?

Kozo

And here’s how I responded:

Hi Kozo,

Good to hear from you again! Sorry for the delay in writing back. I’ve been wondering how to respond to your question, because the truth is: I don’t think I have an answer for you! I’ve looked at this “Dennis the Menace” cartoon many times, and I’m just as confused by it as you are.

When Dennis says “I like school,” it’s a statement that doesn’t seem to fit his personality. Readers of “Dennis the Menace” know he’s not really the school-loving type. So my first thought when reading it was: "Why is he saying that? There must be some sort of funny or ironic reason that Dennis is claiming to like school." It made me think of this old “Peanuts” strip.

I thought Dennis might express a feeling like Linus does here — maybe something like “I like school…it’s the TEACHERS I hate.” Or “I like school. I just wish there wasn’t so much LEARNING involved.” But instead, the second part of Dennis’s line is: “My parents make me go.” To me, that’s neither funny nor ironic.

Perhaps the cartoonist is simply trying to find humor in a child expressing two opposing ideas. “I like school” is one idea, and “my parents make me go” is sort of an opposite idea. But it’s not funny, in my opinion.

Maybe the point is that Dennis says he likes school because he knows that’s what his parents want to hear. But that’s not funny, either.

Sorry, Kozo. Most of the time, I’m able to provide some sort of explanation about the cartoons you send me. But this one’s a puzzler. Maybe the only way to explain it is: all cartoonists have a bad day once in awhile.

Thanks for writing. Talk to you soon.

Best wishes,

Lincoln

Fri, 09/04/2015

Test Your Big Nate Trivia Knowledge!

As the publication date for BIG NATE BLASTS OFF draws closer (okay, the book’s not coming out until February, but it’s always a good idea to plan ahead), I’ve started thinking about the tour that will coincide with the book going on sale.  At schools and in bookstores, I often end my presentation by playing “Big Nate Trivia” with the kids in the audience.  (FYI, parents are definitely NOT allowed to play Big Nate Trivia.)  The rules are simple:  I ask questions about earlier books in the Big Nate series.  Kids raise their hands to answer.  (Shouting out the answer without getting called on is completely unacceptable.)  If a kid answers a question correctly, I give him or her a prize — usually a t-shirt or a book, although there have been a few other random prizes over the years.

Anyway, I need to start thinking of some good questions to ask this next time.  While I work on that, take a look at this sample list of trivia questions I’ve asked in the past.  They range from ridiculously simple (like “what is Francis’s middle name?) to quite difficult.  TEST YOUR BIG NATE TRIVIA KNOWLEDGE!!  (Answers appear at the bottom of this entry!)

1.    What’s the name of Francis’s cat?
2.    What play is performed at P.S. 38 during BIG NATE:  ON A ROLL?
3.    Fill in the blank:  Nate and his classmates build a snow sculpture of ________________ during the big “Snowdown” with Jefferson Middle School.
4.    Speaking of Jefferson Middle School…what is Jefferson’s mascot?
5.    Name at least three of the services Uncle Pedro advertises on the pole in front of his house in BIG NATE FLIPS OUT.
6.    When Chad first appears in Book 1, Nate calls him by the wrong name.  What name does Nate mistakenly use?
7.    Name all four members of Enslave The Mollusk, and list the instruments they play.
8.    In BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE, Nate and Dee Dee win a prize when they submit their comics to which magazine?
9.    Give the names of Ellen’s boyfriend and his boss at Klassic Komix.
10.    Who painted the long-forgotten but priceless mural at P.S 38 100 years ago?
11.    What’s the name of the Chinese restaurant where Nate once got a bizarre fortune cookie message in BIG NATE:  IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF?
12.    What’s on the front of Chad’s sweatshirt?


I usually have only three or four t-shirts to give away, and there are WAY more than three or four kids in attendance.  So, channeling my inner Mick Jagger, I always explain that You Can’t Always Get What You Want…but that it’s still worth playing Big Nate Trivia.  You’re just as likely to win as anyone else.

TRIVIA ANSWERS:
1.    Pickles
2.    Peter Pan
3.    Achilles
4.    A Cavalier
5.    Palm Reading, Haircuts, Small Engine Repair (Also:  Carpentry, Roofing, Hypnosis, Knives Sharpened, Live Bait, Landscaping, Music Lessons, Yoga)
6.    Todd
7.    Nate (drums), Francis (guitar), Teddy (keyboards), Artur (lead singer)
8.    Story Spinners
9.    Gordie, Wayne
10.    Granny Peppers
11.    Pu-Pu Panda
12.    A smiley face

 

Tue, 09/01/2015

On the Radio

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned WMPG in this blog.  WMPG is the radio station at which I’ve been a volunteer since 1998.  Every Monday morning, I host a radio show devoted to vintage country music.  It’s called “South by Southwest,” and I open each week’s show by promising listeners that if they’ll just give me two hours of their time, I’ll make country music fans out of them.  Whether or not that’s true, I have no idea.  But it’s good to have goals.  Anyway, the radio show is one of the joys of my life.

Volunteering at WMPG also provides me with the opportunity to contribute artistically from time to time.  Twice a year, we host a fundraiser called “Begathon.”  Each Begathon has a catchy “theme,” and once that theme is decided upon, some artwork needs to be created to go along with it.  This artwork then goes on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other swag that the station offers as premiums in return for people pledging money to the station.  

Years ago, a Begathon theme was “What Makes Portland Great.”  This fall, we decided to revisit and tweak that theme, and came up with “What Makes Portland Groove.”  I was asked to come up with a fun and funky drawing that would emphasize the word “groove” while also featuring an image that somehow immediately suggested Portland.  After some brainstorming, I decided to use seagulls as a motif.  Portland is a coastal city, and we have seagulls in abundance.  Then it was just a matter of deciding on poses for the seagulls while leaving enough room for all the hand-lettering (which was very time-consuming).  Another WMPG volunteer will add color in Photoshop.  And he or she will also add the letters WMPG on the four pilings.  We have an iconic logo that is highly recognizable around Portland, so rather than hand-drawing our call letters, I left those four spaces blank for our logo letters to be added later.

I enjoyed the project.  Seagulls are fun to draw, because it’s easy to make them look happy.  And I’ve been spending so much time lately drawing Nate and his pals in BIG NATE BLASTS OFF, it was great to take a short break and focus on something else.

If you’d like to listen to “South by Southwest,” just visit wmpg.org on any Monday morning between 8:30 and 10:30 EST, and you’ll find our live audio stream.  See you soon on the radio!

 

Fri, 08/28/2015