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He's known as Big Nate but actually he's a little guy. As comic strip fans will come to realize, his name has more to do with his attitude and his impact on a tight circle of friends.
On the funny pages, Big Nate is perpetually an 11-year-old sixth-grader trying to avoid detention, who hopes to become a cartoonist. In real life, this creation of artist Lincoln Peirce has been published for 20 years before recently becoming an overnight success.
Big Nate starts today in The News-Enterprise and will appear on the daily comic pages as well. It replaces Funky Winkerbean.
"Funky began as an insightful, youth-oriented humor strip focused on high school students and written by a former teacher," Editor Ben Sheroan said. "It has evolved into more of a soap opera with an occasional laugh line. Big Nate will provide more of the youthful flair missing from many comics."
Peirce developed the character from his experiences as a middle school student and as an art teacher at a New York high school.
Big Nate's breakthrough as a pop culture icon came online through the website Poptropica.com. Big Nate Island became the child-oriented gaming site's biggest launch ever and now claims more than 30 million users.
That popularity fueled a series of books published by Harper Collins. The three books introduced Nate and his friends to an even larger audience and each has claimed spots on The New York Times bestseller list.
"We want to capitalize on this interest to serve our younger readers with a feature focused on their interests and ideas," Sheroan said. "We trust that it's appeal is universal enough that the majority of our audience quickly will adopt it as their newest favorite."