Lincoln Peirce's Nate Wright has stolen the show in dozens of print and digital collections, but on February 28 the sixth-grade superstar will answer a question that has haunted philosophers since the dawn of time. That's right, the true nature of noogies will be unveiled in Big Nate: What's a Little Noogie Between Friends? At least that was our assumption. We decided to ask Peirce for noogie clarification at the risk of overcommitting and he obliged in kind. Read on to demystify noogies in general, to learn the effect of noogies on Peirce's artistry, and to observe the consequences of badgering a kindhearted creator with solely noogie-related questions.
GoComics: The new Big Nate collection is titled "What's a Little Noogie Between Friends?". How do you, as an artist, define a "noogie”?
Lincoln Peirce: I’d define a noogie as a vigorous knuckle-scrub targeting the scalp of a mildly annoying friend or acquaintance. But that’s not what you asked me. You asked me how I’d define a noogie AS AN ARTIST. My answer to that question is: a noogie is a bit of slapstick I sometimes employ when I have no real punch line.
GC: Were you noogied much growing up? How have your personal noogie experiences contributed to the creation of Big Nate?
LP: I remember getting noogied a few times as a kid. My older brother — my only sibling — was a gentle giant, so fortunately for me, he didn’t resort to such tactics very often. But there was a kid at school who was a year older than I was, and his noogie game was pretty advanced. He’d get you on the ground, sit on top of you, and noogie his heart out until he got bored — or until the playground monitor intervened, which never happened because the playground monitor never paid attention to what was going on.
GC: Who do you think is the most noogie-able character in the Big Nate cast?
LP: From an opportunity standpoint, it’s Chad. He’s short, so that makes him easier to noogie. And he has a flat head. His head is the perfect noogie target. But Chad’s too lovable to noogie, so the obvious answer is Nate. He’s annoying and also somewhat self-absorbed, which means that his friends are obligated to cut him down to size from time to time. Plus, look at Nate’s hair. That’s a head of hair that practically demands to be noogied.
GC: What's the approximate noogie count in the new Big Nate collection? You can ballpark it.
LP: To quote an op-art icon from the 1960’s whose name I can’t remember: Less is more. Noogies in Big Nate are like mint chocolate chip ice cream — it’s awesome, but if you ate it all the time, you’d get sick of it. So I choose my spots. I think there are only one or two noogies in this whole book. But I could be horribly, tragically mistaken.
GC: Much like drawing, noogie technique can develop over time. Where are you with your noogie-ing skills at this phase of your career?
LP: Very rusty. There’s nobody in my life right now whose very presence cries out for a noogie assault. The closest I come to noogie-ing anyone these days is scratching my dog on the head. By the way, my computer keeps auto-correcting “noogie” and changing it to “boogie.” So this Q&A is a lot more work than I was expecting. Just sayin’.
GC: If you could give a noogie to -- or receive a noogie from -- any person in history, who would you choose?
LP: I wouldn’t receive a noogie from anyone. First of all, being on the receiving end of a noogie isn’t much fun. Second of all, I’m pretty bald at this stage, and noogie-ing a bald guy doesn’t really work for anyone. But if I could noogie anybody, it would be our president, Donald Trump. He needs a noogie and then some. Unlike Jimmy Fallon, who was content to just tickle Trump’s hair as if he were fluffing a pillow, I’d hold nothing back.
GC: Do you feel like giving me a noogie for asking so many noogie questions? Be honest.
LP: Yes. My next collection after this one is called A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED WEDGIE, so I’m thinking you might be a candidate for a daily double: a noogie followed by a turbo wedgie.