Shimauma means “stripy horse” in Japanese?!
It’s time once again for TOOL TALK with your host Cat “the tool, man” Garza. In our last episode we were discussing the sudden and recent unavailability of Zebra brand G nibs online. I was lamenting the fact that I’d need some soon and that I had really enjoyed them and wanted to be able to get more if need be, but all the online retailers that carried them suddenly didn’t have them, discontinued them or had them, but only in the Nikko brand or Tachikawa brand varieties. This was a huge dilemma! My first experience with G nibs was using a Zebra that had come in a Deleter package.
After my post, I had a couple different friends in Japan trying to track them down. My friend Betsey, who was an intern at the Center for Cartoon Studies, left for Japan and will be returning this Fall as a new CCS student (!) scored a Deleter package which contained, *gasp*, the Zebras (instead of the Nikkos, which is what I got last time I ordered Deleter G’s).
Quick rundown… There’s three G nib brands available in the States as far as I know – Zebra, Nikko and Tachikawa. Zebras are the softest, then Nikkos (a bit stiffer, but still with tons of flexibility), then Tachikawas (have the least spring/more rigid). I remember thinking at one point when I’d finally gotten the hang of the Zebra G that it was like drawing with a metal brush (if that makes any kind of sense). That’s how much flexibility the Zebra G has.
I had an order for some “I.C.” packaged G nibs from akadot.com which was taking almost a month to fill because the I.C. brand G nibs weren’t in stock and were on back order. I.C. (or Icy, as I’ve seen the brand referred to in some literature) is a great Japanese company that makes the B4 manga manuscript paper I use to draw my comics. I started using this paper because I was tired of spending gobs of money on pads of Britsol. These manga pages are pre-ruled with non-photo blue ink and come in packages of 40 sheets for under ten dollars. Having used the Blu Line Pro pre-ruled bristol waaaaay back when it first came out (horrible stuff, btw), I was always a fan of drawing sheets that were pre-ruled (being inept at drawing a straight line and all, I need all the help I can get!). Although kind of thin, the sheets take the ink really well and are the right size since I’m planning to print YOTR in the standard manga paperback size next year. They take a phenomenal amount of abuse and I haven’t ripped through one yet (short of ripping it on purpose… and it still took some doing)!
Anyway, the product description for the I.C. G nibs included a photo that, to my eye, looked like Zebra G nibs (you know, embossed G and all). Hence the order. And the wait… That is, until this past Friday when my order finally arrived! And guess what? I WAS RIGHT!!!
The I.C. package did indeed contain three brand new shiny Zebra G nibs! Rejoice, those out there that might have been searching for Zebra G’s (I’m sure I’m not alone, here, right?!?)
Ready for the bitter irony of it all, the punchline? I’m having to get used to them again. They are indeed MUCH softer than the Nikkos I was using since that first Zebra G… and a lot easier to ruin if you have a heavy hand like me. I ruined the first one mere minutes after slapping it onto my pen holder and inking with it. I have what my mother used to affectionately refer to as “manos de lumbre”. It will take a bit of an adjustment period, but I’m still glad to be using the Zebras again and that there’s still somewhere online to get them.
I also ordered some I.C. Super Black Comic Ink with that order because I was eager to try something other than the sludgy Speedball ink I’d been using up until now. This ink dries to a matte finish (which is amazing, btw… way better than the glossy Speedball), is watery thin yet super black, just like the package purports.
It seems to stand up to erasing as well as the writeup I’d read that lead me to it touted. Because it’s so liquidy, it flows very easily from the nib and lasts a long time. One drawback is that since it IS so watery, it’s easy to overload the nib and get a nice drip on your way back to the page from the bottle or for the nib to shoot out too much ink onto the paper. You have to be a little careful and conscientious about how much ink you’re using with your nib. Another drawback is that it dries on the nib pretty fast, seemingly faster than it dries on the paper, and gets encrusted very quickly (like in the image at the top of this post). You’ll need rubbing alcohol to keep your nibs clean – it doesn’t want to come off with just water or soap/water. This is some strong ink and I’m going to have a lot of fun using it on the next few pages of YOTR.
So that’s the resolution to my hunt for Zebra G nibs. I ran across a lot of blog posts directing me places that didn’t carry them anymore, so hopefully anyone else looking for them will happen upon this post. Regrettably this blog update wound up being a trumped up free advertisement for Akadot and I.C. (and Zebra), so I apologize for that. I should have a sponsorship from all these guys!