Tachikawa Comic Pen Review

As always, while sketching in ink I prefer to keep it fast, loose, and without any kind of pencil underdrawing or erasing. Ink is the least forgiving of all sketching mediums, especially if you don’t like to pencil in a sketch before taking up the pen. I find the feeling of running a steel nib over graphite akin to the sound of nails on chalkboard, so I like to sketch directly in ink if it’s personal work/ studies, as this is.

It has been a long time since I last posted, and one of the most stressful periods of my life. In the midst of everything, however, I’ve been finding some much needed joy in sketching with my new Tachikawa Comic Nib School- G fountain pen. This thing is unlike any pen, fountain or otherwise, that I’ve ever used. It delights me because I can see exactly where they decided to cut corners and make compromises in order to get the important features in.

Firstly, at Rs. 400 ($6 or so), it’s very cheap. The nib is an ultra fine 0.2 mm that flexes out to 0.5 mm with enough pressure. The crazy thing is that despite laying down the very finest line I have ever seen a fountain pen put down, it’s labelled just a ‘Fine’- there’s an ‘Extra Fine’ too! I imagine the EF must be like drawing with near invisible lines, but I probably won’t be picking it up. This pen is finer than the Pilot Kakuno in EF, the Platinum Carbon Pen in EF, and rivals the wiry thinness of strokes you get with dip pens using a very light touch.

It came with one ink cartridge in the packet- and what an ink this is! I wish I could buy a bottle for my other fountain pens- this is the blackest, crispest, sharpest ink I’ve ever seen flow out of a pen, fineliners and pigment ink included. Only Winsor Newton India ink rivals it in richness and blackness (at least in my experience). It refuses to feather, maintaining clean edges and sharp, tapering strokes even on cheap paper. It is also completely waterproof when dry. The pen’s barrel does have ‘For Manga’ stamped on it, so I’m assuming this is so that manga artists can watercolour their work afterwards. Nor does the nib protest when I put pressure on it to coax a broader line out of the tip; it feels quite sturdy, and ink flow keeps up on slower strokes.

The compromise is that it’s, ah, a tactile experience, to say the least. You won’t be preferring this to a Lamy Safari for smooth writing. But for sketching and drawing, that toothy, gritty feedback (that some might call ‘scratchy’) is what makes your lines easier to control- still, a little smoother would have been nice. The other compromise is that the flow isn’t great on really fast, long strokes, but I only noticed this when trying to push the pen- otherwise in practical use the fastest strokes will be short hatch marks, which the pen keeps up with perfectly well. It already works better out of the box than my $170 Platinum 3776 fountain pen with its 14 karat gold nib, so that’s there. I also wish it were more comfortable to hold, but I suppose the plainness contributes to the affordability. It looks and feels like a disposable pen, but it’s not.

And now here are some Procreate sketches, a mix of studies and doodles, to round off the post. I have been drawing a little almost every day, but just haven’t had the heart to develop the sketches or post them. I’ll try and be more consistent about posting from now on.

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