more mole

This post will be part 2 of something I did not know was gonna be part 1 - a continuation of the discussion in yesterday's comments.

Flair Pens and How to Master Them!

First, the official disclaimer: I am not a scientist or an ink specialist. I have tried and tried to find SCIENTIFIC PROOF that Flairs will not fade and bleed over time, but all I have is anecdotal evidence, that evidence being Kevin Eastman's collection of Vaughn Bode original art. And all of my original art that I have used Flairs on since I learned that Bode's art is not fading. This was a few years ago. Maybe Bode's art has begun to fade. If anybody wants to post on a chat room or something and find out what the current condition of Bode original art is, please share anything you learn.

I'm pretty sure that any scientific analysis will reveal that Flair ink WILL eventually fade more than India ink. But even the India ink they sell these days is wimpy crap. Hundreds of years ago poor people worked 14 hours a day every day, building cathedrals and making great ink. Today unionized crybabies fart around for 8 hours a day (if they're not on PREGNANCY LEAVE!) erecting pre-fab metal "Super Churches" and pushing buttons on the wimpy crap ink machines. Dammit to hell, whatever happened to PRIDE?!? It ain't supposed to mean you're a homosexual, it's supposed to mean you make good ink!

I always have two Flairs going. One is fresh and sharp. The other is beat to hell. I use the beat-up one like a brush pen. I use the fresh one for detail. For very fine detail I will use a fine-point Flair, but I try to avoid it.

When the beat up one starts to wear out beyond any reasonable use, the other one isusually starting to get beat up. So I throw away the old one, declare the other one old, and open a new one. It rarely happens that systematically, but you get the idea.

Now for the SHOCKER! I use a BRUSH TOO! A lot of the stuff that looks "brushy" is in fact brushy.

Star-nose moles are fascinatingly ugly little creatures. How could you not want to love them and cuddle them and squeeze them to your heart?


greg said...

So… what brand of flair pens do you use? Paper Mate? I notice you kept capitalizing the word Flair … is that an actual name brand?

Sorry to get so technical, but I've been using Sakura Micron Pigma pens for a while and I'm not sure how happy I am with them, so I'm always looking for something else that might work better for me.

I know what Jed has to say about brushes… I've used several top brands of sable brushes before, and the line quality is great… but what a pain in the ass they are to keep in working condition!

Benny said...

Hey. I thought it was Flair pens that you used on all those 20NudeDancers20 panels that faded.
You said you'd never use Flair again!
I remember!
Have they improved the original "formula" or are you using a different product and calling it a "Flair", when it's really something else?

This discussion is great. I can assure all you blogticipants that Pumpie is a wizard with a Flair the same way Jimi Hendrix played a right handed guitar left handed.

Marky Mark said...

I'm talking about a plain old Paper-Mate felt tip pen, brand name Flair.

Most "art supply" stores (ha!) don't sell them. I buy mine at office supply stores or steal them at work.

NO, BENNY! That old fadey stuff is NOT Flair. It's all those stupid "art" pens I used to buy at Alabama "Art" Supply!!!

I still dream about that place, Benny. More about that AREA of town than actually inside the store, but I have dreamed about being inside the store too. That place is in my SOUL... it's a part of me. You should move far far away someday and feel how CREEPY it feels to dream you are back there, confused and dreamy and alone. BOO!

Marky Mark said...

better link

greg said...

Good ol' Scooter Tidwell, whom I had the pleasure of meeting many years ago at the SD ComicCon, told me that he used to watch Flair-wizard Mark Martin draw his amazingly accurate, super-detailed comics with a giant Sharpie marker!

I was astounded, having assumed he was using some kind of drawing device with magical powers, not a fat, bleedy Sharpie.

BonzoGal said...

"blogticipants"? Benny, that is a good word. Did you invent that? Seriously, I rarely see new words that appeal to me like this one does. It's far better than the corporate-sounding "Netizen."

BonzoGal said...

And about the star-nosed mole: love its eyebones! You can tell its smiling just by the eyelid crinkles! Maybe it can be in Runaway Comics #4 (with deluxe limited-edition kidneystone-encrusted cover)!

jed said...

Well, actually, Greg, THIS is what I have to say about brushes:

Winsor and Newton Cotman series (I like a #3) is--budahhh--synthetic! And they last and hold their point and are pretty awesome for juicy lines. But lately I've been playing fast and loose with Cheap ol Chinese Brushes. They don't hold up as well, but you can get some juicy drybrush effects, and with some control you can go from sliver thin to to as fat as your thumb all in one stroke! I mostly paint with these, and am not so skilled with getting detail work.

This is my Chinese brush stuff: http;//

But lately I've really been into Pen points. Like the shoddy bargain basement ink of today versus the ink of yesteryore, pen points, too, were made 100 times better in the past. After splitting and breaking many a nib, I finally discovered the Esterbrook #355. I buy these by the gross from E-bay. I think they stopped making the good ones sometime in the 60s.

Speaking of ink, Dr. Martin's Bombay Black is the best stuff money can buy.

And I've also tried the famous Sakura brush pen, and--what's the point? It's more or less just like a...brush. And it's lousy for drybrush. And I hate having to shake my brush up and down to get it to fill up with ink.

As for Flair--I remember fooling around with Flair in school, and their water solubleness was always cool for adding greys--or at least, bluish greys--a little water would instantly turn your lines into washes.

But I could never work as clean as you, Mark. His pages look flawless! Mine look like dooky, at least until I scan them. With dip pens its just damned near impossible not to occassionally drip or dribble or splash a little ink where you don't intend it.

If I were me, and I weren't set in my ways, I might suggest to myself that I use a digital tablet, and screw wet media alltogether, at least as far as comics are concerned. you can make some very convincing brush-like marks in painter or photoshop that have certainly fooled me.

But these days I'm mostly just painting people's dogs, anyway...

Wayno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wayno said...

Jed, do you use those W&N Cotman brushes for inking? I've been using those damned expensive, high-maintenance W&N "Series 7" kolinsky sable brushes, but no matter how carefully I try to keep after them, they always start splaying sooner than they ought to.

A decent synthetic brush that takes well to ink would be i-DEEL for a kolinsky-killer like myself.

Oh, and MM could draw with a toothpick dipped in poop, and it would still look BEAUTIFUL. He makes me sick. He's just lucky he's so durned loveable or else I'd kill his butt.

(Original comment deleted and re-posted because of a horrible spelling error that made me crazy. ~W)

Colin Tedford said...

Greg, you might want to check out MK Reed's "Comics Tools" blog (, where she posts surveys cartoonists have filled out about what they use. One thing about Microns is no one else seems to make as thorough a size range as they do. A good cheap brsh pen is the Mars/Staedtler Duo 3000, which is a tinge less brush-like than the Sakura but still very flexible and won't disintegrate in a week like the Sakura. Faber-Castell's PITT pens are nice, though they don't get as small as the tiny Microns, and the brush pen is OK but not all that flexible.

I like Flairs. I'm glad to hear they're not too fade-y. The packaging now says "acid free!" (new to me, bought some last month for the first time in years)

jed said...

I feel entirely unqualified to give you advice of any kind, Wayno, since you've been "in the biz" way longer than I've been peeking in from edges. But most of what you see on my website (which needs a thorough revamping--there are some images on there where I was experimenting with computer coloring that are rank ugly) were done with those Cotman brushes. I abuse brushes like nobody's business. I think for fine feathering in the Alex Raymond mode, you might still go for Sables, but I use the Cotman's for both india and acrylic inks. Still, I can get pretty fine lines with the Cotman. I'm just not a feathering kind of person. I think for your kind of Linework Cotman's will work just fine.

I love F&W white acrylic ink, by the way. It's white, opaque, drys real quick, and is great for white linework. The first coupla images on my site, with all the cross hatching? That's acrylic ink and pencil, colored with the "color" mode on Photoshop with the black linework popped over top. Don't know if I'll use this technique again though, because my scanner seems to miss a lot of the detail.

garyfields said...

Hey Mark,
I just started using these "archival" micron ink pens. They're markers that come in many different sizes and a brush. I can't say whether or not they'll fade, but I like'em for quick stuff. I still use the ol' 512 dip pens, too. As always, love yer stuff!! I know what you mean about selling your own personal art and not getting any press with new projects. I have seen cover art of your new book, but haven't sen'em on the stands. Your and Jim's Tantalizing Stories are one of my all time favorite books! It's like when I first discovered Vaughn Bode's comics. I'd never sell'em!!! See you in Nick Mag, pal!