Lincoln Peirce: The Cartoonist Behind Big Nate


Have you ever wondered how a cartoonist makes his/her comics?


Before I interviewed Lincoln Peirce, the cartoonist behind Big Nate, I wondered too.


Have you ever wondered how a cartoonist makes his/her comics?


Before I interviewed Lincoln Peirce, the cartoonist behind Big Nate, I wondered too.


I read Peirce’s Big Nate:Game On! before this interview which became a focus in the interview and other focuses are: Peirce’s drawing and creative process, inspirations, sports, and Nate from Big Nate.

Peirce started making his “own comics in 3rd or 4th grade, but the only people who saw them were my [Peirce’s] family and friends”. This has given Peirce many years of practice to be where he is today. In these many years he has formed a creative process for making his comics. First, Peirce comes up with the dialogue and the storyline after which he sketches out the comic strip with non-photo blue pencil. Peirce usually has simple sketches because he has been drawing Big Nate for so long all he needs is a general idea of the comic strip. Once the strip is to his liking he inks it in with a pen called a Staedtler pigment liner. If he ever makes any big mistakes while inking he uses a “patch”. A “patch” is a piece of paper taped on top of the frame with the mistake in it.

Peirce makes his cartoons funny and great by using exaggeration and simplification. He exaggerates problems, situations, and characters while simplifying dialogue. This gives the reader a funny dramatic situation with exaggerated characters in few words making the comic memorable and short.

Peirce was not a great cartoonist without inspiration however. His “two biggest inspirations are my [Peirce’s] memories of my childhood in New Hampshire and my affection for the comic strip ‘Peanuts’”. When he was seven he discovered “Peanuts” and decided soon after he was going to be a cartoonist.

In Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate: Game On!, Nate is portrayed as a very competitive athlete just as in other Big Nate cartoons. It turns out that Peirce has played sports his whole life giving him an inside perspective on playing sports at a young age. He has played soccer, ice hockey (which he still plays), and baseball while Nate plays soccer, basketball, and baseball and a little bit of pond hockey in Big Nate: Game On!. Peirce says “I've always thought sports give rise to a lot of very funny and very dramatic situations. Certainly sports are at the center of some of my most vivid memories. So it makes sense that they show up in my comic strip all the time”. This explains why Nate is frequently portrayed playing sports.

Even though Nate plays so many sports throughout the book Nate and his teams rarely win any games. I asked Peirce why this was and also why Nate still plays all these sports if he is not good at any of them and does not even seek help. Peirce responded by recounting the story of how his hero, Charles Schulz, would respond when people asked him why he never let Charlie Brown win at anything: "’Because losing is funnier than winning."’ A comic strip featuring a kid who gets straight A's and wins all the time wouldn't be funny. Losing and frustration are much funnier than winning and satisfaction. Nate plays sports because he's very competitive. And I actually do allow him an occasional victory. But it's more fun for me to write about Nate's reaction when things go wrong. (Usually, he's not a very gracious loser)”.

Big Nate: Game On! is a funny collection of comic strips having appeared previously in newspapers. The book focuses on Nate’s team sports and humorous situations he gets into while playing these sports. In this book Nate plays basketball, baseball, soccer, and a small bit of pond hockey. In every sport he has issues playing them by the rules, winning, and playing the sport.


The best part about this book is all ages can enjoy and relate to it. We all have issues just like Nate, even if it is not in sports, which allows us to laugh about our mistakes though Nate. All ages can enjoy it because there are jokes for younger people, for older people, and for everyone in between. I really enjoyed Big Nate: Game On! by Lincoln Peirce because of all the punchlines and laughs and the author of Big Nate is a very fun cartoonist with a love of sports just like Nate.