farmers’ market find– ebony green 2

A continuation of yesterday’s post about the fountain pen I bought earlier this month at the farmers’ market … and about the free sample ink cartridge that came with it.  Regular readers know that I am not a big fan of cartridge ink, preferring to fit my pens with converters and use the stuff in the bottles.  This is much more economical and allows some control of pressure and ink flow as well.  But when I do have a cartridge in, it’s fun to guess just how long it will last.

At this point in the story, the Ebony Green cartridge had inked the sample page we saw in the original post, plus the three drawings of the day we saw in yesterday’s post. (The second image is a detail from one of those drawings– the rest of it was extremely stupid.)  By this time, I was starting to be surprised by the capacity of this little cartridge.  These were four fully inked pages, with large areas of solid color.  The next morning I made this drawing of the day, with lots of intricate, ink consuming shading.

farmersmarket-ebonyblack4-blog I really like this drawing– the chubby hexapod has become a favorite sketchbook character.  If it looks a little less murky than some of the others in the series, that’s because it was drawn freehand in ink, with no pencil underdrawing to erase out.  If you click on it to see the large version, you will see there are a few corrections and even a quick line or two in black marker over them.

So, five finished drawings, and there was still ink in the cartridge.  Not much, but some.  I was now determined to empty that little thing out!  I was really liking the pen by this time and eager to try it out with some good black ink.  So I started another test page, designed to finish the cartridge off even if I had to shade the entire thing solid Ebony Green.farmersmarket-ebonyblack5-blog I started with the little figure at the lower left center, then added the owl on his should and the title in different kinds of lettering.  Then I started on the dragon, which was going to be big and complicated  with a lot of fancy shading that was going to use up that ink … and you can see where he turns black.  The answer to the big question was “not much longer”.  Of course, I couldn’t find the converter I was given free with the pen (since I put it “somewhere safe” instead of in the pen drawer in the studio) but an ordinary Rotring converter as used in their Art Pen series fits well and works perfectly.  You get a little bit more ink into the nib with this converter and the pen is better for it.

In conclusion:  While the Ebony Green experiment was just lighthearted fun (I’m never going to give up bottled ink for cartridges, and while I love playing with colored ink, it’s no substitute for a good solid black for everyday use), the farmers’ market pen is the real thing.  It’s as least as good as any other pen I’ve found in that price range, I love the way it handles and balances, and the nib shows signs of getting better with use.  If it does, I will consider moving it over to the studio for use on finished work once it is broken in.

And I think I am going to email its maker* and open a discussion on getting it a stablemate: a pen with the same body design in a different color of resin and a rather tasty fast flowing B nib I tried out at the market that day.  The pair should be dynamite together.

*David Tipton at

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farmers’ market find– ebony green 1

Some finished sketchbook drawings from the new farmers’ market pen.  farmersmarket-ebonblack1-blogYou may recall that this interesting pen (introduced here, with photographs in the following post) came with a sample cartridge of Private Reserve brand Ebony Green ink.  Now, I don’t usually use colored ink.  It’s not because I don’t like it– I actually do, rather, and this green is dark enough to be satisfyingly subtle.  It’s a lot of fun to draw with. I know there’s a purple as well and let me tell you that if there is an Ebony Crimson I would probably be all over it.

farmersmarket-ebonyblack3But as you see here, colored inks present a problem when it comes to reproduction.  Compare these scans to any of my usual scanned drawings and you’ll see that they’re murky and a bit of a mess.  That’s because they’re in full color and all the little tricks I normally use to clean up my scans by making them pure monochrome won’t work. farmersmarket-ebonyblack2-blogYou can see the other major problem with colored inks in this third drawing– the little circles are the dreaded sneeze marks. Colored fountain pen inks are usually intensely water soluble and the slightest drop of moisture makes them spot or smear.  If the ink was black, it would be a moment’s work to hit each of these spots with a bit of correction fluid and run some bits of line though the resulting void with a small marker, but matching a colored ink with a marker ink is almost impossible to do.  And I’m so clumsy that I can’t go further than a sketch without a way to fix the errors and mishaps that follow me everywhere I go.

But I’m not going to waste a cartridge of interesting ink.  What happened next will be revealed  in tomorrow’s post.

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a found photo can illuminate an entire project.

(Symbolic) Bud in the junkyard.  I especially love the green phone.


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crazy morning glories

Just took some moderately boring photographs of some spectacular morning glories, open late in the day in deep overcast. The shape of their white centers made them look like living lens flare.  As subjects they were irresistible, but the light was difficult and the only camera I had was the one in my pocket.


But a deep crop, some pretty serious supersaturation on the color, a boost on the contrast and a touch of vignetting, and the result is well, not boring.


The filters may be a bit much, though.



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another minicomic to read on my story site!

Happy Tuesday!  There’s a new story up on my story site, freshly posted and awaiting your minicomic reading pleasure.  It’s called Fleek!, and it’s a little nonsense story about the nature of names and language– and it will surprise no one that is was co-written by my writing partner Jeff Lilly.

So, what’s in that mysterious cardboard box?  Join Jack and his junkyard pals as they try to find out in the pages of Fleek! starting here.

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drawing of the day– poison ivy and baseball

drawingoftheday-newnumbers-magicalitemsWait.  This drawing of three young girls, maybe sisters (or cousins, like you meet in so many old children’s stories), with their “Magical Items” seems to have nothing to do with either everyone’s least favorite horrible-rash-inducing plant and/or our national pastime.

Except that I do have poison ivy, fairly badly, on my arms and a bit on my fingers and one place on my chin which is just driving me crazy, and I was so fed up with being encrusted with calamine lotion and still itching after about three days of misery that I ended up watching an entire baseball game this afternoon. And so I didn’t feel that I was entirely wasting my time, while I watched I put a lot more ink on this, yesterday’s drawing of the day for all kinds of special effects. You’ve got tweed, you’ve got pleats, you’ve got decorative brushwork.  And you have the dress of the oldest girl, the one standing on her tiptoes on top of the Magic Trunk, which was originally a fairly elaborate floral print.  Which I decided looked too American so I whited it out and replaced it with a nice tartan frock with white cuffs and collar, ever so popular in the vaguely Victorian/Edwardian dreamscape that makes up so much of sketchbook world.

The girls are inked primarily with the scritchy-scratchy pen, while the Magic is inked with a brush, because Magic.  The Cubs beat the Indians 2-1 on a walk off home run after an extended pitcher’s duel.

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sunday threes–cat edition

The internet is all about pictures of cats, and so is the shadowy network of matchbox label designers.  Who are, as always, equally obsessed with the number three.efbba92763d9ed8b41c27cf05c142365e0164f2db4733a32e29ac1e51b7102f9a0a7125f7fd6459a58ca5ad48a4cbb82

(That middle one is one of the reasons I don’t keep cats.  Dogs generally can’t get up on the drawing table to knock over the ink bottle. Generally. )

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the cartoonist’s notebook: lumberyard at lunchtime

Never knew that behind our big box Menard’s home store is a huge working lumberyard. You enter through a gate “guarded” by an equally huge but fairly lethargic security man who checks your receipt to see that you have already paid for the boards, shingles, fenceposts and bags of rocks that you are there to pick up.  The yard is home to a half dozen fast moving forklifts driven by manic youths who play dodge ’em with the pickup trucks and vans of the confused customers looking for “door 11”.

From the notebook: Workingman’s Lunch= forklift operator bipping around the lumberyard at Menards.  Hot Saturday.  Beside him in the forklift: giant bottle of yellow Gatorade, open bag of Cheetos (crunchy), open bag of sour gummy worms. Probably alternating swigs and handfuls, never slowing down.

A great detail for a story sometime– maybe for a shipyard in a space opera.  Until then it’s fun to remember being young enough to eat like that without keeling over on the spot.  My workingwoman’s lunch would have been grape Gatorade, nacho cheese Doritos and peanut M&Ms, but to each his or her own.

Those who are picturing me let loose in a lumberyard at the controls of a forklift are excused a mock expression of terror.

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butterfly blue



IMG_20150821_153519~2The Phone Camera Butterfly Project continues.  Today’s butterfly is … a blue one.  On concrete pavers, with a half-rotten apple it was really enjoying and the first of late summer’s fallen leaves.

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not a hulk-ku

It had to happen: poetry in the voice of the Incredible Hulk has ventured out of the haiku-like limits of the traditional Hulk-ku.

  • Mighty bellow: Where?
  • Where Hulk iPod?!?
  • Where Hulk bossa nova music?
  • Where Hulk podcasts?
  • Where Hulk game Bejeweled Diamond Mine?
  • (Just getting good. Hulk leave on pause.)
  • People say: Where Hulk leave iPod?
  • Where he see last?
  • (Where music, podcasts, shiny game Bejeweled? )
  • Much smash! Everything wet! 
  • Hulk hands dirty. Dirty with wet dirt.
  • Hulk put iPod somewhere safe. 
  • Hulk put iPod on windowsill in kitchen!
  • Hulk go kitchen.
  • Hulk iPod on windowsill.
  • Hulk feel silly.
  • Never mind.
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