Big Nate is an American comic strip written and illustrated by Lincoln Peirce. The strip first launched on January 7, 1991, and has spawned some comic collections, a series of children's novels, activity books, and a stage musical.
Big Nate follows the adventures and misadventures of Nate Wright, a rebellious and energetic sixth-grader, and his classmates and teachers. He is portrayed as a boy with little interest in studies or conforming to standards, which has led him into several conflicts with his social studies teacher Mrs. Godfrey, whom he considers to be his nemesis. Strips also focus on Nate's home life and friendships with his best friend Francis and Teddy. GoComics has described the series as follows:
Aspiring cartoonist Nate Wright is the star of Big Nate, the daily and Sunday comic strip distributed by NEA since 1991. Nate is 11 years old, four-and-a-half feet tall, and the all-time record holder for detentions in school history. He's a self-described genius and sixth grade Renaissance Man. Nate, who lives with his dad and older sister, enjoys pestering his family and teachers with his sarcasm.
Answering questions from fans in the Washington Post, Peirce revealed the following about the creation of the strip:
Big Nate started out as more of a "domestic humor" strip than it is now. It was my intention to feature a lot of stories about Nate's single dad, and all the comic possibilities inherent in that. But before too long, I realized that the part of the strip that I enjoyed most was the school humor. I'd been a teacher myself, and schools can be very funny places.
Nate Wright: The main protagonist of the Big Nate book series and comic strips. Nate is a sixth grader at P.S. 38 and also a self-described comic genius. Nate insists that he is destined for greatness and that Jenny, a girl in his school that he has a crush on, will fall in love with him one day. He is best been known for causing mayhem, awkward moments, terrible school grades (particularly in Social Studies), an un-beatable detention record, and every prank day at his school he pulls off the most insane pranks. His best friends are named Francis and Teddy. Nate mentions it as having nightmares of going back to school. Another fear of Nate’s is cats. Nate is afraid of cats is because when Nate was four, he got a four-month-old cat named ‘Cinnamon’, but it attacked Nate when he tried to pet her.
Marty Wright: Nate's middle-aged, divorced father. He plays golf, albeit very poorly, and will never allow Nate to have a dog, despite Nate's incessant requests. In the strips Marty appears to be a normal sized man with a pot belly, whereas in Nate's own drawings he is more circular and obese looking.
Ellen Wright: Nate's fifteen-year-old sister. She is self-absorbed and constantly at odds with Nate about almost everything. Nate finds her very obnoxious, and the fact that his teachers wish he was more like her aggravates him. She could not care less about Nate. Is dating Gordie but – according to Nate who read her diary – 'she secretly lusts after a guy she met at the mall named Steve. Her behavior is very childish.
Ted Wright: Nate's childish uncle, who still lives with Nate's grandparents. He is a big fan of Battlestar: Galactica. He first appeared when Nate was painting his grandparents' house, where, instead of helping Nate, he spent his time reenacting Battlestar: Galactica. He is known for making rather lame excuses, such as cheating in Monopoly by saying the government gave him a bailout, or saying he does not help Nate because it would damage his fingers and prevent his oboe playing, when in reality he has long stopped playing the oboe.
Vern and Marge Wright: Nate's grandparents, referred to as Gram and Gramps by Nate.
Francis Butthurst Pope: Nate's number one friend, Francis is very intelligent but upsets his friends from time to time. Nate and Francis frequently make fun of each other, but in Big Nate: Strikes Again states that this is how they operate. Contrary to Nate's feelings for them, Francis is friendly with both Mrs. Godfrey and Artur. Francis participates in the band "Enslave the Mollusk" along with Nate, Teddy, and Artur. In Big Nate: Flips Out he was upset with Nate due to the reason of a camera loss and the revealing of his middle name. He dates Sheila.
Teddy "Square Root" Ortiz : Nate's number "1A" best friend, Teddy has been shown to be a comedic character willing to crack jokes and annoy Nate. Like Francis, Teddy likes Artur and is in "Enslave the Mollusk". He dates Paige. His middle name was revealed to be the square root symbol. His parents are both math teachers.
Jenny Jenkins: Nate's classmate since grade one. She is his biggest crush, however, she despises Nate (though Nate is absolutely oblivious, believing Jenny is hiding her true feelings). Jenny is dating Artur, but she moved to Seattle. She's a pretty blonde girl with sky blue eyes. It is almost certain that she has no feelings for Nate and barely considers him as a friend. She tends to go berserk when something embarrassing is done to her (e.g. Nate tripped and spilled egg salad on her). In the older strips it was revealed that she is a cheerleader. She once dated Nate for a school dance. She moved back from Seattle in June 8, 2013.
Artur Pashkov: A very intelligent and well liked exchange student from the Republic of Belarus. He is in Nate's class, and is Jenny Jenkins' boyfriend. Jenny's liking for Artur, and Artur's ability to beat Nate at chess, gives him a one-sided rivalry with Nate. Artur was the Boys' Age-Group Chess Champion of Belarus before moving to the United States. He was quite modest about this, stating that Belarus is, "Very small country. Barely eleven million." He appeared in some movies from Belarus. Artur speaks somewhat broken English as a second language. He is very innocent, gentle, kind, and (most of the time) unassuming. He regards Nate as his friend, and is generally unaware of Nate's dislike of him. He went with his father, a college professor, to Turkey, during which time Nate tried to start going out with Jenny. Artur is a nice boy who is trying to please Nate, even letting Nate beat him at chess so that Nate could be happy. While Nate somewhat views Artur as a friend, he is quite jealous of Artur's talent and better luck. He sums it like: "I like Artur okay. But it's sort of annoying how nothing ever goes wrong for him." When he wore figure skates he was lightly teased by Nate until a cute girl came up and asked him to practice figure-skating with her. He is very well-liked and popular by the girls though according to the comics the most popular guy in school states that Artur is a loser revealing that Artur is not popular with the boys. His first appearance on the comic strip was on May 7, 2001. On March 31, 2011, Artur got bullied by Marcus.
Kelly: Nate's ex-girlfriend whom he met at soccer camp. She goes to Jefferson Middle School, and is the goalie on the girls' soccer team. Not seen since Nate broke up with her to try to start going with Jenny after Jenny broke up with her boyfriend. (Kelly was angry, with good reason, because Nate broke up with her using a note written on the back of a detention slip.) They dated from 7-10-01 to 4-11-02.
Angie: Nate's first girlfriend. They dated from 7-14-97 to 2-12-98. She appeared twice more: once at the school dance, where Nate consoles her, and again when she runs against Nate for school president. There are unconfirmed rumors that she and Nate will get back together.
Chester Budrick: A person who appears to be too old for his grade. In "Big Nate From The Top" it is said that he is 6 foot 6. He is their baseball pitcher. very recently, he was put on a different team and pitched against them. He is usually shown as an arm or not at all, but he appears briefly when Nate talks about losing in dodgeball in Big Nate Strikes Again. In Big Nate on a Roll, only his head does not show during detention time in the beginning of the book. He left the "Cream Puffs" in May 2013.
Kim Cressly: A very big girl who at one point decided Nate was her boyfriend and refused to take 'no' for an answer. Nate spent much of his time trying to avoid her before she started dating Chester.
Gina Hemphill-Toms: One of Nate's schoolmates and rivals. Gina is P.S. 38's resident know-it-all and over-achiever, and often finds herself in academic competition with fellow overachiever Francis. Nate and Gina tend to despise each other with a passion, viewing each other's personalities and work ethics as terrible, however Francis and Teddy have mentioned that Nate and Gina have a love-hate relationship. In recent strips, it has been hinted that Nate actually likes Gina deep down, but Lincoln Peirce denies this, saying that if he created a relationship between Nate and Gina, it would ruin the one thing that makes them stand out: the fact that Nate and Gina both hate each other 100 percent. Nate listed Gina as number 1 on his list of worst potential project partners. In Big Nate Strikes Again, she ruins the fleeceball team by being terrible at fleeceball and by using the name Kuddle Kittens, angering Nate. She first appeared on December 12, 1999.
Randy Betancourt: One of Nate's other rivals. In Big Nate: In a Class by Himself, Randy got Nate into detention in the chess club bake sale. He threw a lemon square that hit Mrs. Godfrey and blamed Nate for it. Then Nate threw his dad's yogurt coconut pie at Randy. He was the main antagonist in Big Nate Strikes Again, as he creates a fleeceball team called the Raptors. The day before the game, Randy ran into a table Nate was carrying and got a bloody nose. In the game, Randy stomps on Nate's foot for payback time after he grounds out. His first appearance in the comic strip was on 25 April 2010. Usually Nate tries to avoid confrontation with Randy; but once when Betancourt was bullying Francis, Nate jumped on Randy "like a rabid wolverine."
Chad Applewhite: Chad is one of Nate's good friends. Chad's appearance is a chubby kid with red hair and freckles. He is obsessed with eating and food. In Big Nate: In a Class By Himself; Nate mistakes him for Todd. A smiley face is often seen on his shirt. He is willing to help Nate with all his schemes.
Sheila Stapleton : Is a friend of Nate, Francis, Teddy, and Jenny. Hasn't been seen for a while. She goes out with Francis. In the older comics it states that she is the captain of the cheerleaders and Jenny's best friend.
Marcus Goode: Marcus is "the popular kid" in school, though it is difficult to understand why. He is very narcissistic, and is also a bully. Two members of his gang are Andy and Dennis. He has a starring role in the sixth chapter book.
T.J.: Jenny's boyfriend from 1-9-97 to 3-23-98
Ronnie Dwyer: Jenny's boyfriend from 3-31-00 to 3-25-02.
Greg Proxmire: Jenny's boyfriend from 4-13-02 to 11-29-04.
Dee Dee "Dorcas" Holloway: A friend of Nate mentioned in Big Nate Strikes Again and also reappeared in Big Nate Goes For Broke and Big Nate Flips Out. She is a drama queen, as she is a member of the drama club. She may use big words or grown-up expressions, such as "Everyone has an Achilles' heel!" Nate did not like her much at first, but she has been gradually winning him over. Dee Dee and Nate are now friends, and comfortable with each other. She is a very good artist and cartoonist. In Big Nate Flips Out, she reveals that her middle name is Dorcas.
Paige: Friend of Nate in Big Nate Goes For Broke. In an example of Dee Dee's drama, Dee Dee sticks her arm in her french fries and believes the ketchup is blood. She is also a candidate for The Doodlers. It is mentioned she has brothers. She is Teddy's girlfriend.
Nick Blonsky: Nick is mentioned in the first two books. In the first, Nate says even Nick was raising his hand along with everyone else except him, who also had a pencil up his nose. In the second, Nate says he is a horrible project partner because he is usually "digging for gold". He makes his first major appearance in the fifth. He steals a camera that Nate borrowed from Mrs. Godfrey, which results in Francis getting in trouble. Nick says he stole the camera just because he wanted to see Nate and Francis fight. Dee Dee records the conversation and Nick gets suspended from school for a week.
Mrs. Clara Godfrey: Nate's ultimate hated teacher, his social studies teacher. Nate spends much of his time trying to avoid her outside of class and antagonizing her in class, making up several nicknames for her, like Venus de Silo, Godzilla, Dark Side Of the Moon, and Lady Gargoyle. He thinks she has onion breath. Additionally, he frequently draws her as a parody of The Devil. Nate also thinks that 6th grade would have been much easier for him if his older sister Ellen had not been there first.
Mrs. "Hickey" Hickson: The school librarian. She is a middle-aged woman who does not tolerate insolence from anyone. She is mentioned in Big Nate: In a Class By Himself, and makes an official appearance in Big Nate Strikes Again and another in Big Nate Flips Out. She's also the 1st person to ever send Gina Hemphill-Toms to detention.
Mr. Ken Rosa: Nate's art teacher. Mr. Rosa is a soft spoken, optimistic, and mild-mannered man. As a result, Nate enjoys a lot of freedom in art class. He also enjoys sketching pictures of his teachers. Mr. Rosa has a master's degree, but he has to work at an ice cream shop called "Sweet Licks", scooping ice cream all summer long to make ends meet. His supervisor at the ice cream store is at least half his age.
"School Picture Guy": Not only showing up every year as the school picture photographer, this character often shows up in unexpected places doing odd jobs such as a birthday clown, DJ or a school board meeting reporter. "School Picture Guy" often has some amusing nuggets of wisdom about the job he is doing, or a nugget of wisdom for whatever is on Nate's mind at the moment. He is always shown wearing a Band-Aid on his head. He is known to be a fan of Star Trek.
Coach John: He is a substitute of Coach Calhoun. He is a soccer coach of Nate. He is an old school coach who always yells and complains they are wimps. In a comic it is revealed that Coach John wears a toupee. In Big Nate Flips Out It shows Coach John's toupee blow off in the wind. He is bad with names.
Mr. Galvin: The science teacher. He has a crush on Greta Van Susteren. In "Big Nate: In a Class by Himself", Nate tries to make him laugh, revealing that Mr. Galvin never laughs, and no one except Gina can do it by suggesting to him that Nate thinks he can make the honor roll.
Mr. Staples: The math teacher. He likes to tell "corny knock-knock jokes".
Mrs. Clarke: The English teacher. She is the only African-American besides Shelia, Principal Nichols, and possibly Teddy in the strip.
Mrs. Lumley: A cafeteria worker who is mostly very unfriendly.
Mrs. Corzini: A "lunch aide."
Principal Nichols: The Principal of P.S. 38. Nate and the other students are very friendly towards him, but not really treating him as an authority figure; he is bewildered by the students and on the rare occasion he goes out of his office but he soon retreats. He is sometimes snappy towards Nate and Nate is taken aback by this, but of all the teachers (besides Mr. Rosa, Mrs.Shipulski,and Mrs. Czerwicki) he is probably the one Nate gets along best with; he sometimes helps the cartooning club and treats Nate's antics with good humor most of the time.
Mrs. Shipulski: Principal Nichols' secretary. She prides herself on her low BMI. Nate flatters her by calling her a "cougar," among other things.
Mrs. Czerwicki: She is a school volunteer who sits in detention to supervise the students who must be there. She is friendly with Nate. She reads romance novels while sitting in detention. In a strip it reveals she wears a wig and she said that she was once an actress.
Coach Calhoun: Nate's main PE teacher. He is also Nate's friends' baseball, soccer, and basketball coach.
Mrs. Brindle: The Life skills teacher. In 'Big Nate In the Zone', Nate describes her as 'the nicest teacher in the whole school.'
Ms. La Chance: The French teacher. Mr. Galvin secretly has a crush on her.
Mr. Aldridge: The Computer Lab teacher.
Cap'n Salty: A fisherman who enjoys talking like a pirate. His favorite hobby is catching lobsters under the sea. Cap’n Salty is a character Lincoln Pierce created exclusively for the children's website Poptropica.com, where “Big Nate Island” is one of the features. However, the only mention of Cap'n Salty in the strip itself is the restaurant "Cap'n Salty's" by the beach.
Chief Meteorologist Wink Summers: He is never seen or heard from, but Nate constantly calls him and complains whenever any part of the weather is not to his liking or if Wink's forecast is wrong. He was replaced by Chip Cavendish and transferred to weekend meteorologist in August, 2011. His real name is Dick Schipp. Has a blog called chipcavendishruinedmycareer.blogspot.com In 2013, it has been revealed that Wink Summers came back as the chief meteorologist.
Spitsy: The neighborhood dog owned by Mr. Eustis, the man next door to the Wrights. Nate likes to go to the woods and hang out with Spitsy. He is "the ultimate dog nerd", for he is afraid of mailmen and he had to go to the doctor when he swallowed a tennis ball to get his stomach pumped. He has a crush on Francis' cat Pickles, went to a cat tea party, and even knitted a sweater like his own bone one for a cat. He likes figure skating as much as Ellen, and gets his tongue stuck on metal poles in the winter frequently. He also gets bullied by squirrels, as shown in Big Nate On A Roll.
Mr. Don Eustis: Spitsy's owner, who is depicted as a heavy man and a bachelor, not to mention next-door neighbor of the Wrights. In "Big Nate From The Top", it is revealed that Nate has an autumn job raking his leaves.
Gordie: Ellen's boyfriend. He shares Nate's love for the comic book Femme Fatality, and runs nearby comic shop Klassic Komix. In Big Nate on a Roll, it is revealed he has a boss named Wayne that looks like a caveman.
Peter: A six-year-old boy who Nate sometimes babysits and serves as a 'Book Buddy.' He speaks with a lisp and has an above-average IQ, and reads at a college level. Nate tutors him by introducing him to Femme Fatality comics.
Enslave the Mollusk
Enslave the Mollusk (ETM) is a garage band featured in Big Nate. It features Nate as backing vocalist and drummer, with best friends Francis on electric guitar and Teddy on keyboard, as well as Artur as lead vocalist. Enslave the Molllusk had a big role in Big Nate the musical.
11 print collections have been published. From the Top covered strips from August 28, 2006 to April 1, 2007; Out Loud ranged from April 2, 2007 to November 4; Big Nate and Friends covered strips about the titular character's many friends from 1997-2007; What Could Possibly Go Wrong? covered strips from November 5, 2007 to June 8, 2008; and Here Goes Nothing covered strips from June 9, 2008 to January 9, 2009. "Big Nate Makes the Grade" covered strips that are school-related. "Big Nate: All Work and No Play" covered strips that were all published in the Sunday comics from 1998-2000. "Big Nate: Game On!" covered strips that are about Nate playing sports (Basketball, baseball, and soccer). Big Nate: Genius Mode covered strips from January 11, 2009 to August 9, 2009. "Big Nate: I Can't Take It!" covered strips that were all published in the Sunday comics from 2000-2004. Big Nate: Mr. Popularity will cover strips from August 10, 2009 to March 2010.
Big Nate Boredom Busters, Super Scribbles, Cool Comix, Lots of Laughs (April 12, 2011)
Big Nate Fun Blaster, Cheezy Doodles, Crazy Comix and Loads of Laughs (July 10, 2012)
Big Nate Doodlepalooza, Scribble Games, Secret Codes, and Nonstop Laughs (July 9, 2013)
Big Nate Laugh-O-Rama, Daring Drawings, Maze Madness, and Tons of Fun (July 9, 2014)
In May 2013 a stage musical adaptation of the comic strip debuted at the Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland. The production's story centers on Nate, who tries to enter his school's Battle of the Bands competition but must try to avoid accruing any more detentions, as too many would disqualify his band from competing. Critical reception for the musical has been predominantly positive.