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Lincoln Peirce and Big Nate – 30 Years On

January 7, 1991 saw the first Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce. 30 years later, following so many comic strips and books (both collections of the strips and original material) Big Nate is bigger than ever.

Andrews McMeel and GoComics celebrates with a Lincoln Peirce interview.

What’s been your favorite story arc or gag in 30 years? 

Hmm. I don’t think I can pick a single gag, but there’s a story arc I’ve always liked, from back in 2008. Toxic mold is found in Nate’s school and as a result, he and his classmates must attend classes at Jefferson Middle School, their archrival. The story lasted for at least three months, and it was fun to write gags about the culture clash between the two groups. One of the high points of the arc was a soccer match in which the P.S. 38 Bobcats, thanks to some heroics from Nate, managed to upset the seemingly unbeatable Jefferson Cavaliers. I enjoy giving Nate his occasional moments of triumph. Losing is funnier than winning, as Charles Schulz famously said, but that doesn’t mean your characters have to lose every single time.

What’s the best piece of constructive criticism you’ve received about Big Nate? 

When I submitted the strip that would eventually become Big Nate, my first editor thought that the ensemble cast was too big. She suggested that I pick one character to build the strip around. I chose a character named Nate, who in my early submissions was sort of mild-mannered. I gave him a much bigger personality and tweaked his appearance a number of times. That was really helpful feedback.

Community Comments

#1 Joseph Nebus
@ 6:21 pm

I must have got on the Big Nate wagon very early, then. I remember reading the comic in the weekly newspaper Strips, in the early 90s.

The strip’s conceit of sometimes showing a week of Nate’s own comics — drawn on lined paper and in a different style — really caught my eye then. I’ve missed it in the comic the last several years, although I also understand just not having thirty years of jokes about Moe Mentum, Hollywood Stunt Guy.

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