An Interview With Comic Arts Fest Author-Artist T. Edward Bak

T. Edward Bak at SPX 2013. Source: Santiago Garcia, Flickr.
T. Edward Bak at SPX 2013.
Source: Santiago Garcia, Flickr.

The Comic Arts Fest continues with the next event on Sunday, February 12, 3:00 PM at the South San Francisco Main Library. The Library will be hosting a presentation on T. Edward Bak's work.

The presentation will feature discussion of the experiences, research methods, and process that inform author-artist T. Edward Bak's work.

Island of Memory, his first volume of WILD MAN – The Natural History of Georg Wilhelm Steller is part natural history, part adventure yarn and part experimental narrative. Bak will preview new work from WILD MAN Volume Two: Sea of Time.

T. Edward Bak's stories have been featured in High Country News, and the critically-acclaimed anthologies The Best American Comics, MOME, and Drawn & Quarterly Showcase.

Get to Know T. Edward Bak Through His Own Words

Let's find out more about this author-artist and what inspires him through a series of questions.

Did you read comics as a kid? Which ones?

I read comics, yes. Mostly comic strips like Peanuts in the daily newspaper. I actually didn't read many superhero comics. I had a tonsillectomy when I was 7 years old and my mom brought a batch of Marvel comics to me at the hospital, which introduced me to Iron Man. But that superhero universe was overwhelming, it was honestly kinda too much for me. Meanwhile, we had paperback collections of Peanuts comic strips and Archie comics. The comics that turned me on as a kid were, weirdly, movie adaptation comics. Fantasy sci-fi stuff like Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Star Trek. In high school the local newsweekly published comics by Matt Groening, Lynda Barry and Charles Burns, and that stuff introduced me to different ideas about what comics were capable of.

What are the biggest influences on your work?

I could begin a never-ending list here so instead I'm just going to say that I find myself inspired by all kinds of art and artists, old and new. I am just emerging from a kind of dead zone where I was not feeling the urge to draw or be creative. But now I'm feeling fully recharged, discovering new inspiration in everything. As a cartoonist I am more of a writer who draws, so I find a lot of inspiration in ideas and words. I'm familiarizing myself with Rebeca Solnit, William T. Vollman, Richard Nelson, Rainer Maria Rilke and others. Someone just recommended the poet Susan Howe to me. I need to read more poetry.

For any aspiring graphic novelists reading this interview. What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out?

Learn about printmaking. Learn about science and nature. Math is not that complicated, just commit yourself and learn how to do it. I'm just tired of hearing artists say they "can't do math".
On that note, here's a very simple math equation everyone should learn:
Me + kindness towards other human beings = increased peace.
(Translation: You have a choice about what kind of world you want to live in, please choose wisely)

Will you be going to T. Edward Bak's presentation?

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