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.

Sign up for the Big Nate newsletter!

From the Tour: On a Moving Train!

I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever blogged from a moving train!  I'm traveling from Washington, DC to Philadelphia right now, and I'll get to sleep earlier tonight if I blog now instead of waiting until I reach my hotel.  So here's how my day went in Virginia:

I visited two schools today:  the first was Waynewood Elementary in Alexandria.  I'm always interested to learn what grades are included in each school level in a certain state or school district.  Where I grew up in New Hampshire, and where my kids have grown up in Maine, the final year of elementary school is 5th grade.  But at Waynewood is for kids from kindergarten through SIXTH grade.  So the kids I spoke to were 6th graders.  Some of them may feel a bit old for the Big Nate books by this stage in their lives, but they were a terrific audience just the same.  I received first-class help from my volunteers, Matt and Warren.  And kids like Cami, Carl, Katelyn, Andrew, and Chris made it clear that they're cartooning experts!  After two presentations, I was interviewed by four 6th grade students who had been elected -- I may get this term wrong -- essay officers.  They had a lot of thoughtful questions written down and they asked them very professionally while we were recorded by the "cameraman" Collin.  I put "cameraman" in quotes because Collin wasn't really using a camera.  He was using a MacBook.  Thanks, Collin.  And thanks to the kids who conducted the interview:  Ava, Avery, Jack, and Connie.  Good luck in 7th grade, you guys!

Then, after lunch, it was on to School #2:  Stratford Landing Elementary School.  I spoke to 3 groups of 5th graders in the afternoon.  There was some sort of testing going on today -- maybe one of those hated standardized tests, I'm not sure -- and so some of the kids were seeing me just before being tested, and some of them afterwards. A lot of them had read all the Big Nate books -- it always makes for a better presentation when the kids know who I'm talking about when I mention Nate!  Anyway, here's a huge thank you to all the kids who made it such a memorable afternoon:  Brian, Annabelle, Jahmai, Elena, Alex, Samuel (whose "Angry Birds" shirt was a perfect illustration of "loud" lettering), Lukas, Cal, Emma, and last but not least, Liam, who correctly answered the top-secret bonus cartooning question about a certain kind of speech bubble.

And finally, earlier this evening I did an easel talk and a signing at "Hooray For Books" in Alexandria.  They had seating for about 25 people, but the turnout was bigger than that, so a lot of kids just sat on the floor or squeezed in where they could.  Thanks to all of you for coming, especially Madeleine, who goes by the nickname Madzilla.  Could she be any relation to Mrs. (Godzilla) Godfrey?

A huge thank you to three people for giving me so much help today:  Lori Cumberland, the librarian at Waynewood, Sarah Hinshaw, the librarian at Stratford Landing, and the wonderful Trish Brown from "Hooray For Books."   I hope to be back in Virginia someday soon!

Thu, 03/29/2012

From the Tour: Miami to DC

If I'd written this earlier in the day, I'd have been able to say:  hello from Miami!  But I'm not IN Miami anymore; I just arrived in Washington, DC, and I'll be visiting a couple of schools in Virginia tomorrow before hopping on a train to Philadelphia.

But I really WAS in Miami for most of the day, and even though I'm now 927 miles from there (according to the mileage calculator I just found on the internet), I'll tell you about my visit to Key Biscayne Community School.  I really enjoyed myself, and the kids were great.  Gloria Plaza, the media specialist, was a wonderful host.  She organized five sessions, and I spoke to kids of all ages -- mostly 4th graders, but also some 5th, 6th, and even 7th graders, along with some 1st graders.  In each session, I was introduced by a student, and they all did great jobs, in many cases speaking from memory instead of reading.  Those five kids were Carlos, Jorge (who I understand also goes by the name Mateo), Casilda, Jonathan (with the legendary name), and Romano.  Thanks for the intros, guys!

During the sessions, the kids demonstrated an impressive degree of cartooning expertise!  I especially liked some of their scribble game drawings.  And I ALSO liked all the help I got from kids throughout the day.  There are a lot to mention, so I'll just list them in order:  Daniel, Barbara, Dania, Bridget, Aleksa, Victoria, Max, Luis, Martin, Lauro, Lorenzo, Paloma, and Juan.  I had a great time at KBCS!

Also, I want to give a shout-out to the gentlemen who drove me around Miami all day:  Barry.  Barry's been a driver for 30 years and, as you might expect, is very good at his job.  He also, like me, spent a lot of his younger life in New Hampshire.  He's nearing retirement, but I hope he's still on the job if I'm ever back in Miami.  Thanks, Barry!

Wed, 03/28/2012

From the Tour: At the halfway mark!

The BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE book tour is officially half over!  I'm back home in Maine for a long weekend, then I'll start the second leg of my travels on Tuesday.  Here's a recap of what went on Friday in Minnesota.

This was only the third time I've ever been to Minnesota, and I don't remember all that much about the first two times.  But I'll definitely remember my visit to Brimhall Elementary School for a long time to come.  It's a great school -- not to mention a great BIG school -- and I spent the whole day there.  A huge thank you to Anna Zbacnik, the librarian, and Janet Waller from Barnes & Noble for their good humor and stamina -- they both sat through my presentation SIX TIMES! 

The kids, a combination of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, were great.  The 6th graders were demonstrating their school spirit by wearing black outfits, so for part of the time, it felt like I was talking to the Oakland Raiders.  Most of the students seemed pretty familiar with Big Nate, and Anna told me that Big Nate ranks third on the library's "most frequently checked-out books" list, behind the Amulet books and the Wimpy Kid series -- so I'm in pretty good company!

Here's a shout-out to some of the kids who were especially helpful throughout the day:  Daniel, Claire, Nadia, Sam N., Liam, Mara, Carrie, Victor, Ethan, Eleanor, ANOTHER Sam, Michelle, Mohamed (a very good sport!), Oskar, Bjorn, and Carly.  And a special gold star goes to Mo Re, who is clearly a comics authority.  Thanks to all of you!

A couple of hours later, I spoke at the nearby Barnes & Noble to a crowd of about 150 kids and parents.  I recognized a number of kids from Brimhall in the crowd, and I was very grateful that so many people came to listen.  After that I enjoyed the added bonus of having supper with some friends I hadn't seen in many years -- a great end to a wonderful day.

And by the way, I'm starting to meet some kids who are enjoying the high-tech side of Big Nate:  they're reading GOES FOR BROKE on their e-readers, and they're creating their own comix with the Big Nate Comix By U app on their iPhones and iPads!

The next blog entry will be posted on Thursday -- I'll be writing about spending Wednesday in Miami, Florida.  See you then!

Mon, 03/26/2012

From the Tour: sdrawkcaB

I'll do today's entry backwards:  I'll start by telling you about visiting The Bookcase in Wayzata, Minnesota, which was actually my final stop of the day.  If I owned a bookstore, I'd love it to be one like The Bookcase.  It's located right on the banks of Lake Minnetonka, an incredibly beautiful spot.  I spoke there earlier tonight to a crowd of 50 or 60 kids, parents, and grandparents, and I'd like to thank them all for coming.  I talked about some of my usual topics:  discovering comic strips when I was a very young kid (including my favorite, "Peanuts," by that great Minnesotan, Charles Schulz!); creating my own comics (like "Super Jimmy") when I was in middle school; and the steps I took that eventually led to "Big Nate" getting syndicated back in 1991.  And of course, I talked a bit about BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE, answered questions, and signed some books.  All in all, a very pleasant evening!  I'd like to thank Nancy Caffoe, the store manager, for keeping everything running so smoothly.

Earlier that afternoon, I spoke to three groups of 4th graders at Gleason Lake Elementary School.  I know I sound like a broken record with each blog entry, but:  the kids were outstanding!  I saw some particularly impressive drawings when we played the Scribble Game.  And I had some great helpers -- like Camauri, Eliana, and Maddie -- along with some real cartooning experts, like Ingrid, Julia, Leah, and Joe.  Very impressive, Gleason Lake!

In the morning, I visited Birchview Elementary School, where the 3rd grade is taught in an "open classroom" setting.  So for my three sessions, all I had to do was move from pod to pod.  I'm amazed with how much these 3rd graders understand and identify with Big Nate -- who's a 6th grader, after all.  And the kids at Birchview know much more about the language of comics than I did at that age.  Thanks to all the kids who made the morning such fun, like Olivia, Natalie, Brenna, Owen, Sami, Brendon, Kate, and Megan.

And my day began at 3:45 this morning, when I had to get up in order to make my flight from Wisconsin to Minnesota. So it's time for bed.  Good night!

Thu, 03/22/2012

From the Tour: Say it three times fast... Oconomowoc!

Greetings from Oconomowoc!  Actually, right now I’m in a town called Delafield, but for most of the day, I was in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  Great name.  And a great town, too.  I’m sorry I only got to spend one day here.  I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for Minnesota.

This morning, I visited Ixonia Elementary School.  When I give presentations at schools, I’m usually in the library; but at Ixonia, I went straight into the classrooms – one third grade, and one fourth.  The kids were primed and ready to go, and I had some great helpers.   Thanks to Jacob and Kelly for acting as my volunteer assistants; and congratulations to all the kids, like Makayla and Trevor, whose cartooning knowledge was on display.  Thanks very much to Sharon and Lisa for making me feel so welcome.

Then it was on to Meadow View Elementary, where I met with three different groups in the afternoon.  The school used to be a convent, and what is now the library used to be the chapel – so needless to say, it was a beautiful setting.  Also beautiful was the card the kids made for me and signed.  Thank you!  I want to give a shout out to a few kids in particular:  Olivia, Sam, Sarah, Mackenzy, Devon, and the amazing Payton, who won a gold star (okay, it was only an imaginary gold star, but you get the idea) for correctly answering the extra credit bonus cartooning quiz question:  what sort of speech bubble to you use to show that someone is whispering?  A huge thank you to Sheila for all her kindness and enthusiasm

Both school events were made possible by the wonderful Lisa Baudoin of Books & Company; the same was true of tonight’s easel talk & book signing at the Oconomowoc Arts Center, where about 110 people listened to me talk about comics and Big Nate, then waited patiently in line for a signed book.  The whole event went off without a hitch, thanks to Lisa’s efforts.  Thanks, Lisa!  I hope to be back in Oconomowoc soon!

Wed, 03/21/2012

From the Tour: Big Nate Goes for Broke on sale!

Hello from Wisconsin! I just arrived here at my hotel, and it's already quite late.  But before I turn in, I want to tell you about my day in Plainfield and Naperville.

Let's start with Plainfield.  Ron, the very nice gentleman who drove me around Illinois during the past two days, assured me that his GPS would deliver me to the front door of Grande Park Elementary School this morning.  But something about the town of Plainfield must have been confusing, because at about 8:15 we pulled up to what the GPS voice told us was our "destination," only to find ourselves parked beside an abandoned soccer field.  We had to find our way to school the old-fashioned way:  by asking directions!

Anyway, once I made it to Grande Park, I had a fantastic time.  I'd like to thank Erin Raleigh, the librarian, for creating a fantastic display of Big Nate swag and for making certain all the kids were 100% prepared for the presentation.  And the kids were phenomenal.  They didn't seem to quite believe me at first when I told them that they're all cartooning experts, but in short order they proved me correct.  A huge thank you to my special helpers Yairet, James, and Shannon, along with all the kids who demonstrated such cartooning knowledge, like Anthony and Claire.  And a special shout-out must go to Isaak, who clearly has a cartooning career ahead of him.

Then it was on to Steeple Run Elementary School back in Naperville where -- thank goodness -- there was still at least one giant sized white board that hadn't been replaced by a "smart" board.  (I've told you before about smart boards, and why they're so tough to draw on.)  The space at Steeple Run where I gave my presentation was perfect, and the kids were the same:  perfectly behaved.  I had a couple of top-notch helpers in Kendyl and Morgan, and was very impressed by what kids like Ellen and Joey S. knew about the language of cartooning.  And Tyler deserves a gold star, as does Calvin.  When I asked Calvin how he knew that a "dotted line" speech bubble means that someone is whispering, he answered simply:  "I've read your books."  Well done, Calvin!

Then, earlier tonight, I spoke to a crowd of about 100 folks who came to Anderson's Bookshop to hear me babble about BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE, Dee Dee, Chad, middle names, telephone manners, sneak peeks, and other very important subjects.  As usual, I want to thank everyone at Anderson's for doing such an incredible job and making me feel so welcome.  Hope to be back in Naperville soon!

Tue, 03/20/2012

From the Tour: Longwood Elementary School

Hi, everyone.  I'll start today's entry by quoting myself.  Here's what I wrote yesterday about my upcoming visit to Longwood Elementary School in Naperville:  My memory for these sorts of details isn't great, but I'm pretty sure I've visited this school before.  Well, I was right about one thing:  my memory really ISN'T great.  I spent the whole day at Longwood, and I can say with 100% confidence that I'd never been there until today.  I looked back at my blog entries from the tour I did for Big Nate Strikes Again and realized I was confusing Longwood with another school not too far from Naperville, Whiteley Elementary.  I have no idea why I thought Whiteley and Longwood might be one and the same, except that they're both fantastic schools with wonderful, well-behaved, and very talented students! 

Longwood asks, for very sensible reasons, that students' names not be used in online postings like blogs.  So I can't give shout-outs to specific kids.  What I CAN tell you is that Longwood is the first school I've ever visited where a student introduced me to his or her classmates at the beginning of each session.  Thanks to all the kids who wrote and delivered those intros so expertly.  I was very impressed by many things during my visit:  the warm welcome I was given by students and teachers alike; the inviting atmosphere of the library/media center; and most of all, the level of cartooning knowledge and talent on display among the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders I spoke to.  The 4th graders have been learning about comics in art class, so they were already experts by the time I arrived.   

I also liked the way the students had taken the time to write down their questions.  If only I'd had time to answer them all!  Sometimes it's hard to fit in a whole lot of Q&A at the end of a session.  But perhaps some of those kids whose questions I didn't get to will come to Anderson's Bookshop on Tuesday night.  I'll have plenty of time to sign books and answer questions beginning at 7 pm.  So if you live near Naperville, come on down!  

One last thank you:  to Donna and Kathy for making the day such a pleasant one.  I hope to be back at Longwood again on a future tour!

Mon, 03/19/2012

Kicking Off the Tour

Hello from Naperville, Illinois!  I've been here twice before on book tours, and always enjoy it. 

It's Sunday afternoon as I write this, so the tour hasn't really officially started yet.  I'll have more to write tomorrow, after spending the day at Longwood Elementary School.  My memory for these sorts of details isn't great, but I'm pretty sure I've visited this school before.  So I'll have to make sure to change my presentation a little bit, so that the kids who've heard me once already aren't listening to the same thing all over again.

One thing I don't mention enough is how much I appreciate schools inviting me to visit.  A lot of schools have programs in place nowadays in which authors, illustrators, musicians, and all sorts of other people visit the students to talk about what they do.  But when I was a kid, I can't remember anything like this happening at all.  We NEVER had anybody visit our classroom back then!  I would have loved the chance to see and listen to an author -- or a cartoonist! -- discussing his or her craft.  I think schools are more enjoyable places now than they were 40 years ago!

From what I understand, the 4th graders at Longwood School have had the chance to use the Big Nate Comix By U app on the school iPads!  I can't wait to see what they've come up with.  And speaking of the app, don’t forget about the contest run by Night & Day Studios. You could win a signed copy of BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE by creating a comic with the app, and then emailing your comic directly from the app to: info@nightanddaystudios.com. That’s all it takes, and you’ll be entered for the chance to win! Don’t have the Big Nate Comix By U app yet? Get it here!
That's all for today.  Much more to come all this week!

Sun, 03/18/2012

Bullies

Poor Chad.  When you’re the littlest kid in the sixth grade, unfortunately, you’re sometimes picked on by bigger kids.  Remember page 172 of Big Nate Strikes Again, when Randy Betancourt grabs Chad’s notebook and plays “keep-away” with it?  In that case, Randy got what was coming to him:  he slammed into a table that Nate and Teddy are carrying down the hall.  If only bullies got what they deserved EVERY time.  But it doesn’t always work that way.

Not every Big Nate book has featured a bully.  But in each book, there’s been someone or something working against Nate in some way.  In Book 1, Nate finds himself in conflict with practically every teacher in the school.  In Book 2, he’s fighting two different battles:  one against the obnoxious Randy and his powerhouse fleeceball team, and the other against Gina, with whom he has to do his special project on Ben Franklin.  And in Book 3, Nate’s in competition with Artur to see who can sell the most Warm Fuzzies.  I think just about any interesting story needs some sort of conflict in it.  If everything went Nate’s way — or Chad’s, or any of his friends’ -- who’d want to read about THOSE adventures?

Which brings us to the picture you see here.  It certainly doesn’t look like the big kid with the J on his shirt is being very nice to Chad.  But who is he?  We haven’t seen him in any of the first three books.  And what is that thing he’s throwing?  The bad news is, I can’t tell you.  The good news is, you’ll be able to find out for yourself next week when you read Big Nate Goes For Broke!

The next time I blog, I’ll be back in Naperville, Illinois, where I’ll be visiting schools and appearing at Anderson’s Bookstore.  That’s the first stop on my book tour.  Talk to you soon!

Thu, 03/15/2012

Cul de Sac

I’ve written before about my admiration for Richard Thompson and his great comic strip, Cul de Sac.  Last year, at the Reuben Awards Weekend in Boston, Richard won the National Cartoonist Society’s highest honor, the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year.  What made that event a bittersweet one was the fact that, in 2009, Richard had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  

Recently, Richard took a break from doing his comic strip, and he asked a few of his colleagues to pinch hit for him.  The “substitute” Cul de Sacs began appearing in newspapers three weeks ago, when Michael Jantze, creator of the award-winning comic strip The Norm, did a week’s worth of dailies.  Next up was my friend and former Portlander, the multi-talented Corey Pandolph, whose cartoons have been appearing with regularity lately in the pages of The New Yorker.  Last week Ruben Bolling, the mad genius behind Tom The Dancing Bug, contributed.

And starting today, Monday March 12th, it’s my turn.  The picture you see here is the first panel from today’s strip.  If you’d like to see the rest of it, you can find it at
http://www.gocomics.com/culdesac.  I’m doing the dailies for this week, and then I’ll also do the Sunday page for April 8th.  

It was a really interesting experience, trying to channel Richard for a few days.  I knew I couldn’t just sit down and draw in my own “Big Nate” style, because it wouldn’t look right.  But I also didn’t want to try to copy Richard’s style, either, because the way he draws is so masterful.  So I just tried to draw in a way that Cul de Sac fans would recognize and appreciate, even though they’ll obviously be able to tell it’s not Richard’s work.  And the good news is:  before much longer, it WILL be Richard’s work.  He’ll be doing the strip himself again very soon — but not before Mo Willems and Ken Fisher add their names to the list of Cul de Sac stand-ins.

Countdown until I leave for the BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE book tour:  6 days!

Mon, 03/12/2012