Sketchbak

Cartoonist T. Edward Bak doodles

I definitely wouldn’t call what I do “using sketchbooks regularly”. Almost makes it sound as if I know what I’m doing.

Every sketchbook, journal and notebook is purchased with the intention of developing drawings and/or writing for a specific project I’m working on at the moment; without fail, each book inevitably becomes a collection of lists, rambling notes, hostile expletives, incoherent rants, mediocre story ideas and vacuous character dialogues punctuated by the occasional burst of thumbnails and/or half-baked drawings.

My overbloated ego is constantly revising a membership list of my ‘ideal cartoonist/writer/artist audience’, so that is a consistent, self-important feature of practically every book I work in.


Stuart Davis’s ideas of ‘staging’ are appealing, and I frequently look to him for inspiration, exploring a similar direction in some of my sketches and drawings.

Right now there is a supply of TUL gel pens I enjoy scribbling with, and I prefer drawing in Moleskine books with pens and/or mechanical pencils. But, honestly, any book will do.

Because my lists and diagrams and sketches are often beside one another in my books, there are pencil marks, pen scratchings and brush tests alongside pages of ink and watercolor drawings, and the sketchbook is occasionally used to work out a variety of effects.

Currently very excited about an Alvin Draft/Matic instrument I recently received as a gift from my girlfriend, and decided to break in with a special project, so I have yet to begin working with it.

It’s nice to make friends with one’s gear.


After 2008, my experience was so unwound by vividly terrifying and awe-inspiring encounters with remote geography and animals in the wilderness that I am now constantly compelled to re-visit those impressions in my work.


Improving drawing skills in the representation of botanical, animal, human, ecological, topographic and historical subjects while resolving stylistic impulses with the accurate portrayal of physical details, and/or morphological/biological features, is a thrilling challenge.
The bulk of my recent sketchbook/journal material is a record of this method.
Studies in anthropology, ecology, and biology are elemental to my artistic interests, so developing an ability to capture with some success the differences in nuance or gesture of similar species — for example, conifers such as the Ponderosa pine and the Western white pine — is, to me a genuinely exciting process.

These days, I don’t have a ‘default doodle’, but enjoy drawing native costumes and artifacts, old streetlamps, abstract cityscapes with silhouetted watertowers and Art Deco architecture, especially details of old Kress ‘five-and-dime’ buildings.

I’m gearing up to begin drawing 18th century Russian architecture and ships, plus more birds and botany.

I count 21 sketchbook/journals filled between mid-2007 and today (November 26 2014) so, 3 per year is a solid estimate. It’s embarrassing, I know I should be filling a sketchbook every month.

T. Edward Bak’s latest comic book Island of Memory is out now.

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