It’s been more than four decades since Lincoln Peirce was a student in middle school, but the memories remain vivid. “Oh, yeah, wicked,” he says. “Definitely.” That kind of recall is just about indispensable in his job as the writer and illustrator of Big Nate, a daily comic strip about an 11-year-old boy that runs in hundreds of newspapers around the world.

The strip emerges from a comfortable office Peirce works in at his home in Portland. Above his desk are shelves jammed with hundreds of CDs, most of them classic country. On Monday mornings Peirce loads up some of the discs and heads to the University of Southern Maine campus to host his own show on WMPG radio.

When he returns to work, he’ll sit down to draw and write. Every image in Big Nate comes from his own hand. Unlike the creators of many successful comic strips, Peirce employs no assistant and uses no graphic technology. Does he often find himself crumpling up a half-finished illustration and tossing it into the waste basket? Rarely. “Usually the mistake isn’t bad enough,” he says, “hopefully it’s not, that you have to really start over.”

Big Nate has been around since 1991, and now Peirce is trying something new with a book called “Max & the Midknights,” which is aimed at readers who are 8 to 12. 

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Max dreams of being a knight, but that’s “about as likely as making friends with a fire-breathing dragon.” As for the secret of writing for young readers, there is no secret. Says Peirce: “I try to write the sort of books I would have loved reading when I was a kid.”

For more information on "Big Nate," click here.

For more information on "Max and the Midknights," click here.