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 spirited yet rebellious 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 friends 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...
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 strip's hero. He is 11 years old, an aspiring cartoonist, deliberate underachiever and a master prankster, playing elaborate pranks on 'Prank day' (the day before summer vacation). He is somewhat self-absorbed, believing himself to be irresistible to women despite repeated rejection, a brilliant sports player despite his poor performance, and a genius despite his poor grades. He spends much of his time in detention or in the art-room drawing comics. He is desperate to own a dog, and loves 'Cheez Doodles,' his favorite snack, with a passion. He is terrified of cats, and hates figure-skating and egg salad. He is also a naturally gifted chess-player, to the complete confusion of his friends.
Marty Wright: Nate's father, a balding, slightly-overweight divorcee who's job is never specified. Like his son, he is somewhat clueless about his own failings, and considers himself an athlete despite his inherent laziness, and an expert golfer, though he constantly cheats or loses his ball. Although his habits never change, he is something of a health-nut, to the point that he always tries to hand out healthy alternatives to candy on Halloween, which is always rejected by trick-or-treaters.
Ellen Wright: Nate's sixteen-year-old sister. Unlike Nate, Ellen is responsible and hardworking and loves cats and figure-skating. She is Nate's constant rival, and he enjoys playing pranks on her. She once dated Gordie. She works at a fast-food restaurant.
Verne Wright: Nate's grandfather. He enjoys stating his opinion without consideration, with his age as an advantage.
Marge Wright: Nate's grandmother. It is hinted that she and Verne have a slightly tense relationship, as she sometimes nags him about giving up her career for married life.
Ted Wright: Nate's lazy uncle, an overweight unemployed man-child who lives with his parents. It is hinted that he dropped out of college and has never held down a job. He is oblivious to his family's hints that he move out and find work, and spouts Sci-Fi and musical trivia at the drop of a hat.
Francis Butthurst Pope: First appeared 01-17-91. 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 he 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. He dates Sheila.
Teddy √ (Square Root) Ortiz : First appeared 01-27-94. 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, hence his middle name. He is Hispanic.
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, which makes Nate dislike Artur. She moved to Seattle, but moved back on June 8, 2013. She is 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.
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 (and almost anything else), gives him a one-sided rivalry with Nate. Artur was the Boys' Age-Group Chess Champion of Belarus before moving to the United States. 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 once. While Nate somewhat views Artur as a friend, he is quite jealous of Artur's talent and better luck. He is very well-liked and popular with the girls though somewhat less with the boys. His first appearance on the comic strip was on May 7, 2001.
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. Nate and Angie met at summer school.
Chester Budrick: The school bully, whose face is never shown. Almost any conversation leads him to violent and aggressive behavior. In "Big Nate: From The Top" it is said that he is 6 foot 6. He is the baseball pitcher. Very recently, however, 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.
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. She first appeared on March 27, 1997 although it is said she first appeared on December 12, 1999. Mrs. Godfrey and Mrs. Hickson are the only ones who have sent Gina to detention. Mrs. Godfrey gave her detention once because she pointed out a mistake on Nate's test, and Mrs. Hickson gave her detention because she was shouting in the library.
Randy Betancourt: One of Nate's other rivals. Randy once got Nate into detention in the chess club bake sale by using Nate as a scapegoat. He was the main antagonist in Big Nate Strikes Again, in which he creates a fleeceball team called the Raptors and gets revenge on Nate by injuring him after Nate accidentally hurts Randy's nose. His first appearance in the comic strip was on 25 April 2010. Usually Nate tries to avoid confrontation with Randy; but once when Randy 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. She 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 is 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 makes his first major appearance in the sixth book as the main antagonist.
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, and a member of the drama club. Nate did not like her much at first, but she has been gradually winning him over. Dee Dee and Nate are now friends, and are comfortable with each other. She is a very good artist and cartoonist.
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 book as the main antagonist. 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.
Breckenridge "B-Dawg" Puffington III: Nate's most recent met student. He's somewhat shy and is a huge fanatic of plants. Teddy is constantly messing up his first name. He considered Nate his "buddy," but Nate was thinking the opposite about Breckenridge. Nate said to his friends once that Breckenridge is a stiff, boring, has an annoying voice, and is a wuss. Nate was constantly wondering if he had met Breckenridge before. Apparently his name was Bobby at the Honey Hive 7 years before and he used to be a bully to Nate when they were toddlers. He was a contributing member of Nate's Non-Stoppers winning the scavenger hunt, and even found the Granny Peppers Mural. He has only appeared once in 2015.
Gertrude "Trudy" : She first appeared on a ride with Nate at the state fair, then Nate couldn't find her, only to find her at school with him.She is in 7th grade, while Nate is is 6th.
Mrs. Clara Godfrey: First appeared 01-28-91. 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. The relations between Mrs. Godfrey and Nate are not entirely negative, though. She allows Nate to create reports in cartoon form, giving him an outlet for his creativity and energy
Mrs. "Hickey" Hickson: The school librarian. She is a middle-aged woman who does not tolerate insolence from anyone. She is the first person to ever send Gina Hemphill-Toms to detention in Big Nate: Strikes Again.
Mr. Ken Rosa: First appeared 01-24-91. Nate's art teacher. Mr. Rosa is a soft spoken and mild-mannered man but somewhat overworked and embittered about his career. 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.
"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 (although he knows Nate's last name well). He usually comes up with nicknames for Nate like "Porcupine," "Speedy," and "Cactus Head."
Mr. Galvin: The science teacher. He has a crush on Greta Van Susteren. He has almost no visible sense of humor.
Mr. Staples: The math teacher. He likes to tell "corny knock-knock jokes". First appeared on January 5, 1997.
Mrs. Clarke: The English teacher. She is the only African-American in the strip besides Sheila, Principal Nichols, Coach Calhoun and Marcus.
Mrs. Lumley: A cafeteria worker who is mostly very unfriendly.
Mrs. Corzini: A "lunch aide."
Principal Wesley 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. He has a niece named Noelle, who is one of Nate's classmates, who also never gets in trouble. His first name was revealed when he was interviewed on the news in Big Nate Lives it Up.
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.
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 Peirce 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. 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. 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 (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 Arthur as lead vocalist. Enslave the Molllusk had a big role in Big Nate the musical.They performed twice one during the In The Zone novel when P.S 38 was starting a fitness zone
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 10, 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: Great Minds Think Alike" covers Daily strips from 2002-2006 and only ten Sunday strips from 2008-2009. "Big Nate: Greatest Hits" covers every Big Nate strip published in 1997, including the strips from the three Big Nate eBooks. Big Nate: Mr. Popularity covers strips from August 10, 2009 to March 7, 2010. "Big Nate: The Crowd Goes Wild!" covered strips from March 8, 2010 to October 9, 2010. "Big Nate: Say Goodbye to Dork City" covers strips from October 10, 2010 to May 14, 2011. "Big Nate: Welcome to My World" covers strips from May 15, 2011 to October 30, 2011.
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.