This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.


We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.



Just Posted  1-23-15




Kartoons By Kline  2-23-15




Smith  1-23-15




Sports by Voort  1-23-15





The Boobiehatch  1-23-15







Frank Blunt  1-25-15




Candace 'n' Company  1-26-15




Witt of Will  1-26-15





A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.



Comics and kids

Those of us who work at GoComics feel pretty comfortable with the idea of being grown-ups who read, edit and promote comic strips for a living. I always wanted to work in the humor/art/entertainment industry on some level, so it's a natural fit. But lately I've felt an extra level of appreciation for the craft, having watched my 2.5-year-old daughter encounter some of the GoComics characters and features for the first time.


It started, as it often does, with Snoopy. We found some animated shorts on Netflix (produced by Peanuts and with editorial input from folks like Stephan Pastis) and introduced her to the Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials last year, which she loved (who wouldn't?). She likes to point to the characters, say their name out loud and laugh, occasionally looking over to us for affirmation. It's a fun way to watch TV. 


Next, I brought home a coloring book I found at the office which includes characters like Ziggy, Heart of the City, Fox Trot and others. She did an especially amazing job coloring Baldo, even if the purple skin and green hair she gave him didn't quite match our official color guide. I sent Mark Tatulli a picture of her coloring of Heart of the City and told him that if he ever needed a back-up colorist, I knew someone who would work for cheap.



At the Joslyn art museum in Omaha (a pretty fantastic place if you're in that part of the world) we saw a graphic novel exhibit in the children's wing that prominently features Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce. 


Photo 2[1]


The framed, original Big Nate artwork looked right at home on the wall of the fine arts museum, and seeing it on display reminded me how detailed, expressive and balanced his artwork is, especially in the graphic novels.


Photo 3[1]


Not that our daughter was paying much attention, since she was busy drawing pictures in the kids' craft area. It was a different story the following week when we got her her first ever McDonald's Happy Meal, which made us feel like generous and also terribly irresponsible parents at the same time. The Happy Meal toy was a cool little Big Nate book that came with stickers. I pointed out Nate, Teddy, Francis, Gina, Jenny and Artur to her, but I didn't see Chad. If you ask me, that's a pretty big missed opportunity. Chad would be an excellent spokesperson for just about any kid-friendly eating establishment.




Then again, I can see why he might not be an ideal fit for a company trying to promote healthy eating options in spite of themselves.


Either way, kids love Chad, Big Nate, Heart, Charlie Brown and so many other GoComics characters I haven't mentioned here. As adults, it's easy to understand and explain what about the artwork and writing makes a certain feature successful. But kids appreciate this stuff on an intuitive level, experiencing a genuine delight when they see these characters. It also makes me feel proud to work where I do. In the words of UU president John Glynn, our cartoonists bring joy to people's lives. It's a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of that process, especially when you see it first hand.


Weekend Faves (January 25)


Red and Rover by Brian Basset
Red and Rover by Brian Basset

If this doesn't melt your heart, please check your pulse.



Tiny Confessions by Christopher Rozzi
Tiny Confessions by Christopher Rozzi

My poor Dexy-kins (Dexter) can relate…


Adam@Home by Rob Harrell
Adam@Home by Rob Harrell

It's happened… I actually related better to the parents in a comics strip than to the kids.
-- Elizabeth


Herb and Jamaal by Stephen Bentley
Herb and Jamaal by Stephen Bentley

Be careful, Herb. From my experiences, moms boast the power of supersonic hearing.




Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

It's always fun to see your boss lampooned in the funny pages. Read more about this strip here.


Jim Benton Cartoons by Jim Benton
Jim Benton Cartoons by Jim Benton

And the award for "Best Snowman Joke" goes to my hero, Jim Benton!



The Duplex by Glenn McCoy
The Duplex by Glenn McCoy

Beer = hops = plants = healthy.

New Comic Alert! Lay Lines by Carol Lay

Lay Lines by Carol Lay


Just as “ley lines” connect geographical anomalies and places of historical interest, Lay Lines connects ideas with drawings to create whole new worlds.


Lay Lines explores love, loss, quirky murder, alternate worlds, outer and inner space, magic, silliness and human folly. Features include freshly colored classic “Story Minute” strips and brand-new comics and stories.


Read Lay Lines here.

Meet Your Creator: Jason Chatfield (Ginger Meggs)

How did you begin your career as a cartoonist?


I grew up in a tiny country town called Karratha in the remote northwest of Western Australia. There was never much to do, so all I did my entire childhood was draw. I didn’t play sports or music – I was a weird, quiet kid who carried a clipboard full of paper with me everywhere I went and drew everything I saw.


Making strangers laugh became a lifelong addiction that began when my History teacher asked me to draw a caricature of the school gardener for a retirement present. He paid me $20.


He created a monster.


I started freelancing as a caricaturist straight out of high school, while working a hefty slew of dreadful jobs. Eventually, I got a job working 20-hour shifts for a newspaper doing everything from proofreading, subbing, laying out ads, writing stories, editing photos, to creating maps and graphics – oh, and the daily editorial cartoon (if I was still awake). I used to go to sleep at 7 a.m. with newsprint burned into my retinas. I did learn a lot about the newspaper industry, though.


I was a big Ginger Meggs fan growing up ­– he was always hugely popular in Australia – and at 19, I met one of my idols and my subsequent cartooning mentor, James Kemsley. He was president of the Australian Cartoonists Association, so we worked together on the club magazine, Inkspot, for many years and always caught up each year in person at the Stanley Awards (our Australian Reubens). Over the years, we became friends and he taught me a lot about being a cartoonist.


Three days before Kemsley died of Motor neurone disease, he asked me to take over from him as the writer and artist for Ginger Meggs.


Ginger Meggs had three other artists before Kemsley, including the creator, Jimmy Bancks. He created the strip in 1921 and made it an Australian icon. The prime minister of Australia called Ginger “Australia’s Peter Pan.” He said, “Most of us can recognize in him our own youth, but unlike him, we had to grow up.”


Curtin Quote



In World War II, Australian pilots would draw Ginger Meggs on the side of their planes and anyone with red hair was nicknamed ‘Ginge’ or ‘Meggsie.






Ginger went on to get his own Australian dollar coin, postage stamps and various other honors. Plants are named after him. There are Australian parks created in his name – he even got his own feature film in 1982.


Ginger Meggs Dollar Coin



After Bancks died in 1952, Ron Vivian took over writing and drawing the strip until he died in 1973. Lloyd Piper then continued the strip from ’73 until his sudden death in 1983, whereupon James Kemsley took the mantle for 23 years.



Evolution of Meggs


It’s a huge honor to continue the legacy of an Australian icon into the next generation.


What do you consider to be your biggest achievements or accomplishments?


Well, I put on pants this morning. That’s something.


If I were to nail it down, the thing I’m most proud of, being elected president of the Australian Cartoonists Association when I was 26 was a great honour. It was a great chance to work hard at furthering cartooning as a diverse, evolving industry. The ACA has been running since 1924, making it the oldest cartooning organization in the world. I’ve served on the board for 10 years and still serve as the deputy president. I’m excited to join the board of the National Cartoonists Society this year.


I think the most important thing cartoonists can do these days is help each other out and give each other a leg up wherever they can. I was very lucky to have had Kemsley send the elevator back down when I was starting out, and I’ve always lived by that same ethos. Wherever I can, I love introducing audiences to new comics – especially by young Australian creators. The front page of always features new and fun Australian web cartoonists who I think fans will enjoy. 


There are lots of new international readers discovering Ginger Meggs every day, and I’m always pleased to hear from them. I was happy to hear the Comic Strip Critic enjoys the strip!  


I was asked to host the 2013 Reuben Awards in Pittsburgh, which was another huge achievement for a doofus like me. I had some big shoes to fill following Tom Gammill (he has a strip called The Doozies here on GoComics. I don’t know if you’d have heard of it; he NEVER promotes it anywhere …)


Tell us about your studio/workspace.


I now live and work from New York with my wife, Sophie. My workspace is a shared studio in an old building on Madison Ave. (Settle down, it’s not as fancy as it sounds.) I had worked from home for 10 years previously, which took a lot of discipline (but not a lot of pants). It’s good to have an “office” to go to for work, because I can close the door at the end of the day and stop work. I think that’s important for a freelancer, otherwise I’d just work all day and night and never see my wife. Or sunlight.


I liked to change my work routine up a lot when I worked from home. The only two things I didn’t change were working at a standing desk and doing Transcendental Meditation twice a day. Everything else was flexible. I’m back to a sitting desk now, and meditating in an open-plan office looks a bit creepy, so now I have to adapt those two things, too.


What inspires you?


One of the things that inspires me most is seeing other artists working in person. I attend the Reubens every year (and had attended the Australian version, the “Stanleys,” every year since I was 19). Nothing re-energizes your inspiration and enthusiasm for cartooning like being around other cartoonists – seeing them work and joke around with each other.


What was your favorite childhood comic? What comics do you read today?


My influences growing up were Bob Camp/Jon Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy), Bill Watterson, and Todd MacFarlane’s drawings of Spider-Man. I was a big fan of Ginger Meggs, which I read every day in my local newspaper, and in all the collections.


I was completely enamored of MAD. Mort Drucker, Jack Davis and Sergio Aragonés are in my pantheon of cartooning gods. I’ve had the great honor of meeting all three, who seemed to be completely immune to the old saying “never meet your heroes; they always disappoint.”


At the moment, I really love reading WuMoZen Pencils and the work of Edward Steed in The New Yorker.



Do you have any upcoming projects or appearances?


2015 is a big year for Ginger Meggs. After 94 years and four generations, he takes another leap forward in trying to capture the next generation of readers.


I’ve been agonizing over how best to capture the attention of the iGeneration for the last seven years. Ginger Meggs has a Facebook page and profile, Twitter, Weibo, Tumblr and Pinterest accounts, an ebook, a blog, and of course a wonderful loyal readership here at GoComics – but something was still bugging me about watching my 18-month-old nephew and wondering how on earth he’d be discovering and reading comics in his lifetime.


I noticed one day he was playing with his mum’s iPhone and he knew intuitively to scroll down on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see pictures and videos. Something clicked in my brain and I thought, “What if the Ginger Meggs comic strips scrolled down, panel by panel, like Instagram?”




I studied the GoComics app and experimented with a few different formats. I figured the best way for as many people to access it is if they don’t need to download anything new to view it, and something that worked on all mobile operating systems. For that reason, I made it a mobile-designed website, accessible from any browser, just for the iGeneration, and predictably named it (golf clap).


Imeggsie logo


That’s not to say that it hasn’t been done before – the Internet is a big place full of clever folks. It probably has already been done. Let me know if you’ve seen it anywhere else! I’d love to see how they did it.


The great thing is it only runs old archived strips that already ran a while back, so it doesn’t compete with my newspaper clients or GoComics, who always run the latest strips. The purpose of iMeggsie is to attract new fans, and direct them to where the new strips are, so there’s a link up at the top of iMeggsie redirecting them straight to Ginger Meggs on GoComics.


I only launched it on January 1, so it’s too early to get any idea of whether it’s a good idea yet, but I figured it was worth trying something rather than sitting around doing the same old thing.


Upcoming appearances? Well, anyone who’s planning on coming to the 2015 Reuben Awards in Washington DC (and I hope you all are) will get to see me hosting the awards night again. But don’t let that put you off – it should be a great weekend. I promise.


Read Ginger Meggs here, follow along on Facebook or Twitter, or visit the comic’s website.

Twitter Q&A with Andrew Hart of Winston



Winston creator Andrew Hart joined us on Twitter this afternoon for a cartoonist Q&A. If you missed our live chat, catch up below!





Read Winston comics here!



Next Friday, Jan. 30, we'll be chatting with Aunty Acid creator Ged Backland! Join us on Twitter starting at 1:30pm CT using the hashtag: #AskGedBackland!


This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.


We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.




Don't Pick the Flowers  1-21-15





Frank & Steinway  1-21-15







Mustard and Boloney  1-21-15



Picpak Dog  1-21-15





Promises Promises  1-21-15





Snow Sez... 1-21-15





0-60  1-22-15





 Rackafracka  1-22-15









A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.



Nick Galifianakis Presentation



Heads up, Burbank, Calif. residents! Add this event to your "To-Do" list this weekend!


Cartoonist and author Nick Galifianakis will give a presentation on "The Art of Richard Thompson" this Saturday at Center Stage Gallery.


BONUS: Attendees who purchase a copy of the book will receive a complimentary 16" x 19" special edition print by Richard Thompson.


Click here for event details and ticketing information.


“Very few cartoonists do so much, so well. Richard is a wonderful writer and one of the rare ones who can write truly unique, hilarious characters. He’s drawn incisive caricatures, lavish illustrations, and one of the most beautiful comic strips I’ve ever seen. And just when you think it couldn’t be better, sometimes he paints the stuff. Richard has the extra-deluxe, jumbo-size skill set. It’s an inspiring body of work.” —Bill Watterson

The Prophet Motive

Looking for some new reading material? Pibgorn has you covered.


Pibgorn by Brooke McEldowney


Catch up on the storyline here.   

New Kid on the Block

Hey, fellow comic lovers! My name is Amanda and I’m the newest intern here at Universal Uclick. Out of the many super fun, I-can’t-believe-I-get-paid-for-these duties that my new job entails, the one I’m most excited about is writing for this blog. After reading through the past interns’ posts, I realize that I have some big shoes to fill, but I’m up for the challenge!


 To start, I thought I’d give you a little idea of what I’m about and what you can expect if you stay tuned:


I like to keep things interesting. Funny, weird, different … I’d rather be any of those things than be boring, so I’ll try to bring that same philosophy to my blog posts. Basically, I promise never to bore you with stories about what I ate for lunch that day.

Sarah's Scribbles by Sarah Andersen
Sarah's Scribbles by Sarah Andersen


No one likes an “e-hole,” so I’ll do my best to avoid sloppiness, tooting my own horn, etc.


Jen Sorensen by Jen Sorensen
Jen Sorensen by Jen Sorensen


I’m a firm believer in laughing as much as possible, so you can definitely expect my posts to be filled with goofiness, sarcasm and hilarious comic strips that I find too funny not to share. 


Dark Side of the Horse
Dark Side of the Horse


Speaking of comics that I find too funny not to share … If, like me, you are an animal lover, then do yourself a favor and add “Breaking Cat News” to your favorites. I can’t get enough of these cats.


Breaking Cat News by Georgia Dunn
Breaking Cat News by Georgia Dunn


With all that being said, I think I’ll cut it off for today. I’ll be spending the next week reading comics (loving my internship) and thinking of my next post, which will be up next Thursday. If you have any suggestions of things you would or wouldn’t like to see from me, feel free to comment and share them! I’d really appreciate the feedback.



GoComics Staff Pick: Cornered by Mike Baldwin

From the office conference room to the gates of heaven, Cornered offers a twisted perspective on life’s ups and downs. Mike Baldwin has quite a talent for taking relatable situations and turning them on their heads. The result is a giggle and a snort. 


Take this one where a woman is shopping for a coffin. Now this is not everyday comic material, but Baldwin has taken this morbid task and spun it in an unexpected direction.


Cornered by Mike Baldwin


But the ones that always make me laugh out loud are set in the office. Oh man. Baldwin has it covered in every department. Here are a some favorites:



The Troubleshooter


Cornered by Mike Baldwin



Human Resources


Cornered by Mike Baldwin



The Vice President


Cornered by Mike Baldwin





Cornered by Mike Baldwin


When life has me Cornered, I check out this comic, and I always walk away with a smile on my face. 


Cornered by Mike Baldwin


—Sarah Peiper, Manager of PageCaptain Pagination  



Add Cornered to you GoComics homepage!


About Cornered: How do you react when you're cornered? Talk your way out, prepare for battle or insist you're just fine and dandy? Mike Baldwin's "Cornered" characters reflect the full spectrum of these reactions - all the while doing their very best to be taken seriously. From dark to light to blindingly brilliant, the results delight, amuse or even confuse - but it's well worth the risk. No one's ever lost an eye reading "Cornered" (aside from one reader who got WAAAY too close - you know who you are). In the end it's discovering the inconvenient truth of being "Cornered" that sets you free. 

Nominations are Now Open for Tank McNamara's Sports Jerk of the Year Award

Tank McNamara by Bill Hinds

I love sports.


To put it another way: "Hi, my name is Clint, and I have a sports problem."


OK, OK, so maybe it's not quite that bad. (Yes it is.) But, seriously, I'll watch almost anything. For me, sports are as much a part of my reality as anything else. And, as the editor of the comic strip Tank McNamara, sports also are part of my career on a daily basis.


And one of my favorite annual sports events is here once again — Tank McNamara's Sports Jerk of the Year.




The Sports Jerk of the Year doesn't care about teams — friend or foe. It is an infamous individual dis-honor that transcends sports and delves into the essence of the human condition. It goes beyond loyalty and performance and achievement, and instead highlights a far less admirable quality: being a jerk.


Some athletes like being jerks. Others don't mean to be, but just are. Maybe someone didn't want to be a jerk, but it just worked out that way so they stuck with it. No matter how it happened, it is now time to recognize these individuals for being high-quality, grade A, first-class, top-shelf, all-natural, premium jerks.


Nominations will be accepted through Friday, February 6 in the following formats:  



The “Sports Jerk of the Year Award” winner will be announced on Friday, February 20 via the GoComics blog, its social media outlets, the Tank McNamara Facebook page and the Tank McNamara comic strip.

Giveaway: Signed SDCC 2014 Jim Benton Cartoons Print




The blustery January weather has us dreaming of those sunny, hot July days we spent in San Diego at SDCC. We want to share some throwback SDCC action with you by giving away three SDCC 2014 special-edition prints signed by Jim Benton!


To enter, comment on this blog post and include your FIRST and LAST names. Limit one entry per person. This contest will end on Tues., January 27 at 10 a.m. CT. The winner will be announced that day on this blog. This contest is open to all readers worldwide.


Read Jim Benton Cartoons here.

Giveaway: Big Nate’s Greatest Hits – Winner Announced



Thank you to all who entered to win the newly-released "Big Nate's Greatest Hits!" We have randomly selected a winner!


Congratulations to Patty Leidy! Please contact us at with your shipping address and phone number. Please note: You must contact us by Tues., January 27 or your prize will be forfeited.

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.


We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.




Don't Pick the Flowers  1-16-15










GramDragon  1-16-15





 Specktickles  1-16-15










Blue Skies Toons  1-17-15





Buns  1-17-15









County Line  1-19-15



Soccer Earth  1-19-15




A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.


Rat and Pig Meet Montreal

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis
Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis


Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis


The City of Montreal is feeling the love from Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine!


As the story goes, Pastis explored Montreal for the first time last fall and found himself extremely impressed with all the city had to offer. Inspired to reference the city in his comic strip, the Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 Pearls Before Swine comic strips are centered around Montreal.


Montreal residents, including Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, are charmed and entertained by Pastis’ storyline this week, and it’s making major news!


“Pastis is, unarguably, one of the most successful cartoonists on the planet. Pearls Before Swine runs in more than 750 newspapers, including the Montreal Gazette. He has an estimated 17.6 million readers a day. Pastis’s professed love for our city is not just idle talk, either. He is providing Montreal a showcase that will leave tourism officials here drooling. Pastis has drawn two Pearls Before Swine strips – to appear on Monday and Wednesday in our paper and worldwide – not only extolling the merits of our bagels, smoked meat, poutine et al but also this declaration from his Pig character: “I AM MOVING TO MONTREAL!!” – via The Montreal Gazette


“He fell in love with Montreal on his first trip to the city last fall, and now the American cartoonist Stephan Pastis is shining the spotlight on Montreal in two strips of his popular comic strip Pearls Before Swine. The comics will be published today and Wednesday in over 750 newspapers around the globe, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Sun Times.” – via NewsWire









Read Pearls Before Swine here.

Weekend Faves (January 18)


Ordinary Bill by William Wilson
Ordinary Bill by William Wilson

Oof. I feel your pain, Will.




Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Peanuts by Charles Schulz

This is me when the Sarah McLaughlin animal cruelty commercials come on.
-- Amanda


Dogs of C-Kennel by Mick & Mason Mastroianni
Dogs of C-Kennel by Mick & Mason Mastroianni

The struggle is real.


Steve Benson by Steve Benson
Steve Benson by Steve Benson

The fight continues. See more comics honoring Martin Luther King Jr. here.



Lio by Mark Tatulli
Lio by Mark Tatulli

Still terrifying, if you ask me.


New Comic Alert! The Daily Drawing by Lorie Ransom

The Daily Drawing


The Daily Drawing is a series of random scenarios with a fleeting cast of quirky (and often inanimate) characters. Sometimes there’s a dialog, but sometimes not.


“Life is weird,” says author Lorie Ransom. “I try to find a bit of ridiculous in the mundane things that most everyone can relate to.” Ransom likes to keep the subject matter light and whimsical, but will occasionally veer into the realm of saucy, just to keep you on your toes.


Read The Daily Drawing here.

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, we honor the great man who fought hard to end racial discrimination. A true leader, Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent activism transformed America.


We’ve gathered a collection of thought-provoking, sentimental and humorous comics celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Grand Avenue by Steve Breen and Mike Thompson
Grand Avenue by Steve Breen and Mike Thompson


The Meaning of Lila by John Forgetta and L.A. Rose
The Meaning of Lila by John Forgetta and L.A. Rose


Nancy by Guy Gilchrist
Nancy by Guy Gilchrist


See the entire collection here.


Meet Your Creator: Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate)



There’s an old song by the Carter Family called “Hello, Stranger.”  It’s more or less a musical greeting in which the singer tells whoever is listening:  “We don’t know each other, but let’s be friends.”  I’m no singer, as anyone who’s heard me can surely attest.  But I like the song. And I like making friends.


So: Hello, stranger. Welcome to my blog.




As I write this, it’s early January 2015, which means that my comic strip, Big Nate, has been in print for almost exactly twenty-four years. I’m pleased and proud to have hung around that long, because cartooning is not necessarily an easy way to make a living. But even at a young age, I got the feeling that it was an occupation that would suit me. I remember reading a quote from my boyhood idol, Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame, which went something like this: To be a cartoonist, you need to be a good artist, not a great artist; and a good writer, not a great writer. And I thought to myself: “I’ve found my dream job.”




But, finding my dream job didn’t mean I practiced a lot. The drawing shown here notwithstanding, I wasn’t one of those kids who spent countless hours mastering my craft. I loved to draw, but I enjoyed plenty of other things, too – like playing sports, watching Saturday morning TV shows, and having the occasional near-death experience while climbing trees or riding bikes. So even though I identified myself as a cartoonist starting in about 2nd or 3rd grade, I always knew there were plenty of other people who could draw better than I could (as Charlie Brown’s lower body in this masterpiece clearly indicates). To be honest, I spent more time reading comics than I did drawing them. I collected a few comic books avidly – Uncle Scrooge, Batman and Spiderman were some of my favorites – but my real passion was newspaper comic strips. Peanuts was at the very top, of course, but I read ‘em all. I loved B.C., Doonesbury, Andy Capp, Tumbleweeds, Blondie and Fred Basset. Later, in high school, I began to learn about the great strips from the Golden Age of comics, like Krazy Kat, Thimble Theatre, Terry and the Pirates, Little Nemo and Polly and Her Pals. And I read plenty of comics I DIDN’T like, too. That’s a good education in its own right.


My progression as a cartoonist through my teens and early twenties was not particularly noteworthy. In high school, I drew comics savaging the teachers I didn’t care for. (Good taste prohibits me from including any of them here.) And in college, I created a weekly comic strip called Third Floor. Here’s a sample:





It was basically a Doonesbury rip-off. And this might be the worst drawing of a moose in comics history. But that’s okay. Imitating other cartoonists’ styles, either consciously or unconsciously, is a stage most everyone goes through. So is drawing stuff – like a moose – you have no clue how to draw.


Speaking of having no clue, I’d begun submitting ideas to the major syndicates by this time. They were all terrible. I’ll give myself a small amount of credit for making incremental improvements with each submission, but progress was slow until I created a comic strip based on my childhood in New Hampshire. The characters, most of them kids, were loosely modeled on friends I’d grown up with. It was, literally, a neighborhood comic strip. I named it Neighborhood Comix. What an imaginative title!                                               


Among the cast were two brothers: Nate on the left, and Marty on the right. Does Marty’s shirt look familiar?




Here’s what happened to Neighborhood Comix. United Media liked the strip, but thought that Nate looked too much like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. So I decided to turn the two brothers into one character. I kept Nate’s name, but made him look and act more like Marty, who had a bigger, more outrageous personality. Then I changed the name of the strip to reflect the fact that Nate was now unquestionably the main character. “Big Nate” was what I’d called my brother Jon when we were kids (long story), so I was already attached to the name. Neighborhood Comix was out. Big Nate was in.


(Quick note: This process actually took about a year and a half of blood, sweat and tears, but for brevity’s sake, I decided to limit this epic tale to one paragraph.)


And here’s the first-ever Big Nate daily strip, from January 7, 1991:




Check out Nate’s long, skinny legs! Poor kid, he’s actually grown shorter and stubbier with the passage of time. (And, thank goodness, my drawing skills have improved.)  Anyway, back then the strip had only a handful of characters: Nate, Dad, Ellen, Francis, Jenny, Mrs. Godfrey and Mr. Rosa. Characters who have since become important contributors – Teddy, Chad, Coach John, Artur, Gina, Mrs. Shipulski, Principal Nichols, Spitsy, Mrs. Czerwicki, School Picture Guy and others – have been added along the way.   Some of them are really fun to draw and write for, and it’s impossible for me to imagine the strip without them.  But Nate is the star of the show, and always will be.


  Big Nate In a Class by Himself cover spot


When I’m asked to describe Nate, I often say that he’s his own biggest fan. He’s only eleven years old, remember, and I think most kids that age tend to be interested primarily in their own lives – not because they’re selfish or conceited, but because eleven year-old children aren’t SUPPOSED to be filled with empathy and humility and all that stuff.  That’s what adulthood is for, and Nate’s definitely not an adult yet. So I don’t want to make him wise beyond his years, or endow him with traits that an eleven-year-old couldn’t possibly possess.  I want him to look, act, and sound like a real kid. Real, but not ordinary. He’s a little more over-the-top than your everyday 6th grader, but after all, it’s a cartoonist’s job to exaggerate.


Soon after I started the strip, I discovered that the jokes and stories I enjoyed the most were the ones that focused on Nate’s school experiences. That wasn’t a surprise, since I’d been a high school art teacher/baseball coach for three years after finishing graduate school. So P.S. 38, the school where Nate attends 6th grade (year after year), moved to the center of the strip and stayed there. I like it that way. Schools can be very funny places.  Here are a few strips I like dealing with school themes:














After 24 years of this, I have to admit that coming up with fresh, funny ideas is getting more challenging. But my routine hasn’t really changed. I begin each day by reading the comics in each of the two morning newspapers. (My favorite strip is Monty, by my friend Jim Meddick. Hilarious.) Then I go to my office, which is a three-second commute across the dining room, and get to work.  I write and doodle in small sketchbooks or on Post-it notes, and that usually helps spark an idea or two.




And when the time comes to actually draw a strip, I’m still using the same supplies I started with all those years ago.




  • 14” x 17” smooth Bristol board
  • panel stencil
  • wooden ruler
  • non-photo blue pencil
  • correcting tape
  • Staedtler pigment liners


I have made a couple of concessions to technology. I now color my Sunday pages in Photoshop instead of using colored pencils. And I scan my strips and upload them to some sort of magical dropbox called Cyberduck instead of sending my original drawings to the syndicate via U.S. mail. Otherwise, though, I create the strip just the way I did when I started it back in ’91. I sketch it lightly in blue pencil, then do all the drawing, lettering, and shading by hand in ink. Part of that’s due to the fact that I’m a technophobe, but mostly it’s because I just like the way my stuff looks when it’s hand-drawn. And it helps me stay connected to the strip and the characters when I draw each panel individually, rather than use the copy/paste tool to replicate the same drawing time after time. 




I’ve been very fortunate. In a day and age when newspapers are struggling and many cartoonists are losing clients, my work has been able to reach an entirely new generation of readers, thanks to a series of illustrated Big Nate novels published by HarperCollins. I wrote the first one in 2009, it came out in 2010, and suddenly – without really knowing what I was doing – I was known as a children’s book author. It was kind of terrifying at first, but I’ve since become more accustomed to the idea. I go on book tours, speak at schools and bookstores, and do signings at events like BookExpo America and New York Comic Con. I’ve attended the premiere of “Big Nate: The Musical” at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, Maryland. I’ve even been a guest on the Today Show for taking part in a successful effort to break the world record for the longest comic strip by a team. This highly unlikely mid-career turn of events has been a real blessing for my family and me, and I’m very grateful.










But I’m still a cartoonist, first and foremost, and the comic strip is my real love.  Someday soon, I’ll stop writing the Big Nate novels. A book series can’t, and shouldn’t, continue indefinitely. Comic strips, though, are forever, and I’d like to keep mine going for a long time to come. I enjoy my work. I still get a kick out of coming up with good gags and storylines. It’s still a thrill to see my work in print every day.  And it’s an honor to meet and become friends with so many other cartoonists whose work I admire. 


Big Nate is sometimes described as a “kids’ strip,” and, even though I write it for readers of all ages, I don’t mind that label one bit. Childhood is when most of us first become aware of cartooning, and if my strip gets some young people interested in comics, I’m all for it. One of the joys of my life is getting letters from kids telling me – sometimes in words, sometimes in pictures – that Big Nate matters to them in some way. Which brings me back to how I started this blog. These kids aren’t people I know. Chances are I’ll never meet them in person. But they’ve taken the time to write to me and tell me a little bit about themselves. Isn’t that just another way of saying “Hello, stranger”?


Thanks for reading!




Read Big Nate here, Big Nate: First Class here or like the comic on Facebook!



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