"I’ve Been Headed Here My Whole Life" - An Interview with T Edward Bak by François Vigneault
I interviewed the charming T Edward Bak, whose new book Island of Memory is premiering at SPX this weekend!
I first encountered T Edward Bak’s work long before I met the man in person: I can recall being floored by Service Industry, a semi-auto-biographical tale of a down-on-his-luck dishwasher enlivened by gorgeous and frightening fantasy sequences. Bak followed this up with a series in MOME, the late, often great Fantagraphics anthology, that explored the life of Georg Steller, an eighteenth century naturalist who accompanied the Imperial Russian Second Kamchatka Expedition, led by Vitus Bering (whose name graces the Bering Strait, the narrow waterway separating Asia and North America), which brought Russian explorers to the shores of Alaska. Being an amateur bird-watcher, history buff, and nature-lover myself, I was delighted at this turn in his career.
Over the years, I’m delighted to say that Bak has become a good friend, albeit one with whom I have had no shortage of minor disagreements, spats, and miscommunications (I seem to possess an almost singular ability to annoy and aggravate Bak with my frequently asinine and usually contentious observations of the world). Recently, I was honored when Bak agreed to let me work as a designer on Island of Memory, the first volume of Wild Man, which is forthcoming from Floating World Comics. In honor of the release of this book, and in light of our shared interest in the natural world, Bak and I recently took a long walk from my home in SE Portland, along the Springwater Corridor, and around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Preserve. The following is an edited transcription of our conversation.
—François VigneaultT Edward Bak in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
François Vigneault: So, Island of Memory is coming out for SPX. And that’s the first part of Wild Man, which will be what, four books long?
T Edward Bak: Right. The title of the next book, I can’t decide, I was thinking Sea of Time, but then I was thinking maybe calling it Beasts of the Sea — there’s all this stuff on the ocean…