10 Things You Should Know About Big Nate’s Creator Lincoln Peirce

Photo of Cartoonist and Author Lincoln Peirce
Lincoln Peirce, Creator of Big Nate. Andrews McMeel Publishing

All About Lincoln Peirce, His Big Nate Comic Strips and Novels

1. Birth – Lincoln Peirce was born on October 23, 1963 in Ames, Iowa.  Yes, his last name really is spelled “Peirce” rather than the usual “Pierce.” It is pronounced “Purse.”

2. Childhood – Peirce grew up in Durham, New Hampshire. He first became interested in comic strips when he was seven or eight years old. He produced his first set of comic strips featuring the same character, Super Jimmy, when he was in fourth or fifth grade.

Although the character is not based on his brother, the name “Big Nate” in his present comic strips and books is the nickname he called his older brother Jonathan when they were kids.

3. Early Inspirations – As a child, Peirce was inspired by the “Peanuts” comic strips of Charles Schultz. The Phantom Tollbooth and The Great Brain are among the children’s books that had an impact on him.

4. Education – Lincoln Peirce was educated at Colby College in Waterville, Maine and earned a graduate degree from Brooklyn College in New York.

5. Becoming a Cartoonist – While he spent his first three years after graduation as a high school art teacher, Lincoln Peirce continued to work on developing his comic strip “Neighborhood Comics.”

“Neighborhood Comics” became “Big Nate” after an editor at United Media suggested he concentrate on one character. The character he chose was Nate and the comic strip that was accepted for syndication became “Big Nate.”

6. The Jeff Kinney and Diary of a Wimpy Kid Connection - When Jeff Kinney was a college student and an aspiring cartoonist, he became a fan of the Big Nate comics and wrote a letter to Lincoln Peirce. Kinney shared his own desire to become a cartoonist and asked for advice. Peirce replied and he and Kinney corresponded for several years.

After Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and series became so successful, publishers became interested in more middle grade books that combined words and comics. Jeff Kinney and Lincoln Peirce reconnected and Kinney opened doors that led to Peirce’s Big Nate becoming a part of the kids’ site Poptropica and his getting a contract to write a series of funny Big Nate novels for HarperCollins. 

Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate Books – In addition to publishing the Big Nate funny middle grade novels, HarperCollins has published several books of Peirce’s “Big Nate” newspaper comic strips, as well as Big Nate activity books for kids.

Andrews McMeel Publishing has published numerous compilations of Lincoln Peirce’s "Big Nate" newspaper comic strips. Among them are Big Nate: Say Good-bye to Dork City and Big Nate’s Greatest Hits, both published in 2015. For information about using the books in teaching, download Teaching with Comics and Illustrated Novels: A Guide for Parents, Librarians, and Educators from Andrews McMeel.

His Artistic Process – Unlike many other cartoonists who take advantage of technology in creating their work, Lincoln Peirce does almost all of his by hand. He creates all original drawings with ink on bristol board and does all of the lettering by hand for both his comic strip and his books.

Why He Writes About Middle School – In numerous interviews, Lincoln Peirce has cited his many memories of middle school. “I just remember middle school incredibly well…I think those are pretty vivid years for a lot of us. It seems as if every day you either experience some triumph or some crushing humiliation...’” (Source: Deseret News, September 29, 2012)

Lincoln Peirce Today (spring 2015)Lincoln Peirce and his wife and two children live in Portland, Maine. He delights in being able to work from home and spend time with his family. His "Big Nate" comic strip is syndicated in more than 300 newspapers and can be viewed online at GOCOMICS.

Big Nate also has an island on the kids’ site Poptropica. “Big Nate: The Musical” made its debut at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, Maryland in 2013 and continues to delight young people in theaters across the country.

Lincoln Peirce is planning the eighth, and he's said, possibly the last, Big Nate novel.

(Additional Sources: GOCOMICS: Meet Your Creator: Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), Washington Post, July 7, 2010; L’ideamagazine, August 1, 2014; Big Nate Books; HarperCollins: Lincoln Peirce; Geek Dad, March 13, 2015; WashingtonCityPaper, ArtsDesk, May 9, 2013; Publishers Weekly, June 6, 2012; Notes from the Horn Book, November 2010)

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Kennedy, Elizabeth. "10 Things You Should Know About Big Nate’s Creator Lincoln Peirce." ThoughtCo, Feb. 8, 2016, thoughtco.com/big-nates-creator-lincoln-peirce-627149. Kennedy, Elizabeth. (2016, February 8). 10 Things You Should Know About Big Nate’s Creator Lincoln Peirce. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/big-nates-creator-lincoln-peirce-627149 Kennedy, Elizabeth. "10 Things You Should Know About Big Nate’s Creator Lincoln Peirce." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/big-nates-creator-lincoln-peirce-627149 (accessed February 19, 2018).