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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Big Nate Trivia

We’re only about 70% of the way through 2011, but it’s never too early to start thinking about...your 2012 Big Nate desk calendar!  Here’s a sneak peek at the cover.  On the front of each page, you’ll see the date (obviously!) and a Big Nate comic strip.  On the back of each page, you’ll find trivia questions, games, puzzles, and other fun stuff.  Coming soon to a store near you!

And speaking of trivia...how about a little Big Nate trivia?  To know ALL the answers, you need to be familiar with the Big Nate books AND the comic strip!
  1. What is often on the front of Chad’s shirt?
  2. How many servings of green beans does Nate TRY to eat?
  3. What are Nate’s grandparents’ first names?
  4. P.S. 38’s archrival school is...?
  5. Which of Nate’s five senses is super sensitive?
  6. What is the name of Artur’s fleeceball team?
  7. Francis’s house is on one side of Nate’s.  Whose house is on the other side?
  8. Who is the leader of Nate’s Timber Scout troop?
  9. Which of the following has Nate NEVER written a haiku about?  A. cheez doodles  B. brazil nuts  C. ice hockey
  10. According to Nate, what is the opposite of egg salad?


Answers next time!

Tue, 08/23/2011

Question of the Day

Hi, everyone.  As you can see from this drawing, Nate is surrounded by notebook paper, which (unfortunately) can only mean one thing:  back-to-school time is very close at hand!  Nate doesn’t look upset about it, though.  Maybe he’s expecting that this year, he won’t have any problems with Mrs. Godfrey, Gina, or Randy Betancourt.  HA!  Little does he know!

I got a nice letter today from a kid named Wes, age 10, who lives just up the road from me in Freeport, Maine.  Wes asked a lot of good questions, so I’ll pick one and make it the question of the day.  Here it is:

How did you come up with Nate’s friends Teddy and Francis?

Great question, Wes.  I’ve blogged about both of those characters in the past, but I’m not sure I’ve ever explained how and why I created them.  Francis has been a part of the comic strip since the very beginning.  I wanted Nate to have a best friend/sidekick, and Francis was the kid I came up with.  He’s named for a real-life kid I taught years ago, when I was a high school art teacher...but Francis’s personality is entirely his own.  Because conflict can lead to a lot of funny situations, I made Francis very different from Nate.  He’s an academic overachiever, never gets into trouble (unless Nate drags him into it), and loves cats.  I’ve always thought of Francis as Big Nate’s version of Jiminy Cricket:  he’s like Nate’s conscience.

A few years later, I brought Teddy into the strip.  At that point, the strip had only three kid characters who appeared with any regularity:  Nate, Francis, and Jenny.  I thought the strip needed some fresh energy, and there were stories I wanted to tell that needed more characters to make them work.  Unlike Francis, though, Teddy’s personality wasn’t fully formed at first.  Initially I thought he might become a rival of Nate’s, but instead I decided to make Nate, Francis & Teddy a unit, sort of like the 3 Musketeers.  Over time, Teddy became more of the fun-loving jokester he is today.  He’s still a very versatile character, though, because depending on what’s happening at any given time, Teddy can behave more like Francis, or more like Nate.

That’s all for this time!  And remember:  starting one week from today, I’ll be blogging every day from my book tour!
Thu, 08/18/2011

Super Nick

I’ve written before about what a kick it is to see Big Nate translated into different languages.  Here’s a page from the German version of Big Nate Strikes Again.  Remember, though, he’s not Big Nate in Germany; he’s Super Nick!  So the title “auf Deutsch” is Super Nick:  Ihr Seid Raus, Ihr Flaschen!  If you want to impress your school librarian, tell her or him that you know how to say “quiet, please” in German.  It’s right there in the background of this picture:  RUHE, BITTE.

Big Nate Goes For Broke update:  I’m in the home stretch!  I just finished chapter 10 and have only one chapter to go.  (I might split the final chapter into TWO chapters, as I did in Strikes Again.)  Then I’ll be on a book tour for a couple weeks, talking to kids about Big Nate on A Roll.  

And speaking of Big Nate on A Roll, it’s almost here!  Check your local bookstore for the book featuring Big Nate riding a skateboard.  And if your local bookstore happens to be a Barnes & Noble, you’re in luck!  Barnes & Noble will be selling an exclusive edition of the book that includes an awesome poster that should fit nicely in your school locker.  Maybe that will help make back-to-school time a little more bearable!

Mon, 08/15/2011

Cheez Doodle Obsession

Nate’s obsession with cheez doodles has taken center stage many times in the comic strip as well as the books.  Last week, I heard from many readers wondering whether or not cheez doodles are real, or just a generic name I invented.  Well, cheez doodles are DEFINITELY real!  In fact, I just ate a small bag of them yesterday.  If you’re not familiar with them, it might be a regional thing.  In other words, maybe cheez doodles just aren’t sold in your part of the country.  That sort of thing happens a lot.  Up here in New England, for example, we have a soda called Moxie, which nobody in other parts of the country has ever heard of.  And down south, they have a soda called Mister Pibb (I think they might have changed the name to PibbXtra) that nobody up here has ever heard of.

Anyway...like Nate, I enjoy the occasional junk food snack.   I stay away from soda and ice cream, but I still buy a bag of chips or a bit of candy now and then.  As a kid, I considered myself sort of a candy expert.  I probably didn’t eat any more candy than other kids, but I bet I tried more different kinds than most kids did.  I liked trying to rank all the different kinds.  Consistently at or near the top were Junior Mints, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, Sugar Babies, and the snack shown here:  Good & Plenty.  I would say that at this stage of my life, Good & Plenty is my go-to candy.  They last a long time, and I have a weakness for anything licorice.

Want to watch an old-time commercial for Good & Plenty?  Click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExSlyoVTX3I&feature=related

I just finished writing some Big Nate strips about Halloween candy that will run in newspapers in late October and early November.  I guess I must have candy on the brain!

Thu, 08/11/2011

First Stop on the New Big Nate Tour

Austin, Texas is going to be the first stop on my upcoming book tour, so I thought I’d show you a postcard from a world-famous attraction in that city:  the Broken Spoke, a famous honky tonk country dance hall.  I didn’t get a chance to go there (and sample the delicious chicken-fried steak) the last time I was in Austin, but maybe on this visit I’ll have the chance.

But what I’m MORE excited about is that a great bookstore in Austin, BookPeople, is going to put together a Big Nate Cartooning Camp during the last weekend in August.  From what I understand, the folks at BookPeople have staged other camps based on kids’ book series, so I’m very happy to be following in a fun tradition.  If you live in or near Austin, ask your parents to sign you up!

Here’s something I forgot to write about when it happened:  Last week, the Big Nate Sunday comic strip was a joke about Nate using a metal detector at the beach.  On the very same day, a cartoonist named Darby Conley ALSO told a joke about a metal detector in his comic strip, “Get Fuzzy.”  Immediately some readers posted reactions in the comments section at gocomics.  They assumed that Darby and I must have communicated beforehand, and agreed for some reason to use the same prop on the same date.  

But it was just a coincidence.  That happens sometimes in comics — cartoonists think of similar jokes at the same time.  I remember a number of years ago, three different cartoonists wrote jokes about dust bunnies on the same day.  People must have thought it was National Dust Bunny Day.  Well, I can promise you that last Sunday was NOT National Metal Detector Day!

Mon, 08/08/2011

Magnificent Milliken

If you’re lucky, you’ve had a teacher somewhere along the way who’s made a real difference in your life.  For me, that teacher was a gentleman named Frank Milliken, who taught Latin at my high school for twenty-five years.  The drawing shown here is one I did of him about 33 years ago.  I recently learned the sad news that Mr. Milliken died last week at the age of 86.

I obviously didn’t end up studying or teaching Latin as a career, so you might be wondering what exactly I mean when I say he made a difference.  Well, Mr. Milliken was one of the very few adults in my life who showed real interest in the comics I was constantly drawing back then.  Most teachers thought cartooning was frivolous, and that comics had no place in the classroom.  Mr. Milliken was different.  Every day before class, he’d allow me to draw a funny little cartoon on his blackboard.  Then he’d leave the drawing untouched, unless and until he had no choice but to erase it because he needed the space.  There were many days that I’d peek into his classroom at the end of the day, and he’d point to the blackboard to show me that my drawing had survived the entire school day.  Mr. Milliken also sometimes asked me to make drawings with Greek or Roman themes that he used on class handouts or for our annual Latin Banquet.  He had a quirky sense of humor — he was known for telling puns during class — and I think he appreciated my not-always-successful attempts at humor.  When you’re 14 or 15 years old, and someone you respect and admire shows an interest in what you’re doing, it feels very meaningful.  Mr. Milliken’s encouragement always made me feel great.

Mr. Milliken retired at the end of my sophomore year in high school, and to mark the occasion I made a card for him.  That same card was part of the display at the reception after his memorial service.  I’m pleased and proud to know that he saved it for all these years.

So here’s to Mr. Frank Milliken, a gentleman and a scholar who made a difference in the lives of many, many young people.

Thu, 08/04/2011

Top Secret Code

One of the exciting things about the next Big Nate book is that it contains a new code, invented by Nate, for writing and reading secret messages.  The symbols shown here carry a message from Nate.  If you’re able to figure it out before reading the book, he (and I) will be mighty impressed.

Big Nate Goes For Broke update:  Tonight I’m finishing chapter 9, which means I have about forty pages to go.  I have quite a few loose ends to tie up, so I hope forty pages are enough.  I’m writing a little more slowly than I did on the first three books, and so I have less time to devote to the rough drawings...which means they’re REALLY rough.  But don’t worry — I’ll make sure the finished art looks great!  There will be some challenges along the way, though.  For example, chapter 9 includes a drawing of a suit of armor.  Well, doing a rough sketch of a suit of armor isn’t too difficult...but I’m kind of dreading the task of making a drawing that really LOOKS like a suit of armor.  That’s going to be a toughie.  “Suit of armor” may get added to my informal list of things I can’t draw.  Right after “bicycles.”

Speaking of bicycles, I’m looking for one right now.  Years ago, I had a beautiful bike that I loved to ride, but it was stolen out of our garage.  I eventually bought another bike to replace it, but I never really liked it.  For one thing, it’s blue.  I don’t know what I was thinking, buying a blue bike, because I like my bikes to be either red, orange, or black.  Right now I’ve got my eye on two bikes.  One is red and new.  One is orange and used.  We’ll see what happens.

Other important events of the day:  I finally finished reading a book I started almost two months ago; I went running; and the Red Sox won.  All for now!

Mon, 08/01/2011

Summer Camp

My wife and I just returned from visiting our son up in Salisbury Cove, Maine, where he is doing a summer internship at a place called the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab.  He’s working very hard, but he’s also having the greatest summer of his life.  He’s helping out with a marine biology project, and for parts of every day he’s paddling around in a sea kayak, or pulling traps on a lobster boat, or swimming around in the ocean in his wetsuit.  During his time off, he goes hiking and rock climbing in Acadia National Park.  He calls it the best summer camp ever.

So that got me thinking about summer camps.  I’ve sent Big Nate off to camp a couple of times in the comic strip.  Here’s a panel from one of those adventures.  During the summer of 1999, Nate attended chess camp.

It’s been a while since I’ve written any storylines about Nate being a chess genius, because I started to run out of jokes about chess.  But twelve years ago, chess was a frequent theme in the strip.  Nate was the #1 player on the P.S. 38 chess team (this was before Artur joined the strip), but he wasn’t all that serious about it.  I thought it might be funny to send Nate off to chess camp, where Nate would be surrounded by kids who were much more intense about chess than he was.  One of those kids was a friendly, pudgy little kid named Derek (named after my real-life nephew, who is friendly but not pudgy).  Do you recognize him?  He’s one of those “prehistoric Chad” characters I talked about in the blog a while back.  Before eventually creating Chad, I occasionally put minor characters in the strip who were a lot LIKE Chad.

Nate’s not attending any kind of camp this summer, but it’s never too early to start thinking about NEXT summer.  What kind of camp do YOU think Nate should go to?

Thu, 07/28/2011

Poem for Jenny

In Big Nate:  In A Class By Himself, Nate was preparing to write a love poem to Jenny when fate intervened (which is another way of saying that Gina ruined everything).  Well, here’s the poem he WOULD have written if he’d had the chance:

POEM FOR JENNY

My love is like a red, red rose
That blooms with petals sweet.
My love, like Mt. St. Helens, glows
With awe-inspiring heat.

My love is like a perfect pearl
Plucked from an oyster prime.
My love is like a fuzzy squirrel
(I had to make it rhyme).

My love just cannot be denied,
Cannot be stopped or squelched.
It’s like a sigh that must be sighed,
A burp that must be belched.

You’ve dated several other guys
(Excuse me while I yawn).
They’re like a burger, shake and fries,
While I’m filet mignon.

Until you stop ignoring me,
Until we have a date,
Until you see how blind you’ve been,
I’m yours, sincerely, Nate.

Mon, 07/25/2011

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

As I’ve said before in this blog, there was a LOT about writing, illustrating, and publishing books that I knew absolutely nothing about until a couple of years ago, when I started writing Big Nate novels.  For example:  I didn’t know what an ARC was.  Well, it turns out that ARC means “advance reader’s copy.”  Compare a book to a paper you have to write for school.  You might write a very rough draft, then edit it, then rewrite it, and so on.  Eventually, you’ll have a version that’s NOT QUITE the finished product, but very close.  That’s essentially what an ARC is.  ARCs are often provided to booksellers, librarians, book reviewers, and selected readers to let them see what’s to come when the final version of the book is eventually published.  So if you go to your local bookstore or library and ask “when is Big Nate On A Roll coming out?,” there’s a good chance that librarian or bookseller will not only know the answer, but will have read the ARC!

The picture shown here is the ARC of the next Big Nate comic strip compilation, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?   (The black box on the cover identifies the book as an Advance Reader’s Edition and says “not for sale.”)  It contains over 200 pages of Big Nate comics, along with some bonus activities at the end of the book.  I really like this cover.  I like the orange color, and I like the funny pose of Nate, Francis, and Teddy.  And I especially like the title, which is a quote taken directly from one of the strips inside the book.  If you know Nate, you know that there’s PLENTY that could possibly go wrong!

But according to Nate’s horoscope, not much will go wrong today.  If you’re a Scorpio like Nate, here’s Thursday’s astrological forecast:  Focus on your accomplishments and what you learn from the experience you have with others.  Communication will be of utmost importance.  Your ideas are excellent; now all you have to do is put your plans into motion.

And now, since I’m a Scorpio, too, I have to go put my plans into motion.  See you next time!

Thu, 07/21/2011