The New Yorker on the Blackwing 602


42 Responses to “The New Yorker on the Blackwing 602”

  1. Seems (on the surface) that being obsessed about pencils and their writing quality is quite silly. But being an illustrator and wanting perfect consistency and control over a pencil is important, it’s a factor that you no longer have to worry about driving you crazy. Especially when you have to use pencils regularly. I’m just as obsessive over ball point and felt tip pens.

    • hassenpfeffer says:

      Agreed, Michael. I’ve become obsessed with these:
      Pick a cartridge holder and one or more cartridges of your choice, and it’s about the sweetest  handwriting experience I’ve ever had, including the fancy Parker fountain pen my parents gave me when I graduated from college. The inks are lusciously colored and flow as smoothly as imaginable. Apply them to your favorite notepad or other paper and you’ll be hooked.

      As far as pencils go, (which BB pointed me to, BTW) got me hooked on these:  
      Automatic lead rotation is a godsend. I’ve got several different models with different lead widths, and I keep a few different hardnesses of lead in each width on hand.I haven’t tried Mark’s Blackwings, but I still favor a solid Dixon Ticonderoga as a nonmechanical pencil. I was very pleased to see them on the kids’ desks at Parents’ Night in my elder’s first-grade classroom.

  2. Alan James says:

    Apparently it’s Blake Eskin, not Blake Ewing. Does he look like a pencil and that got you confused?

    Edit: Fixed already! Great work.

  3. kartwaffles says:

    Hipster pencils? Perhaps, but some people simply enjoy pencils.

  4. Brainspore says:

    It’s a cheaper product to obsess over than luxury cars, anyway.

  5. RJ says:

    I remember Mark’s 2010 write-up, if for no other reason than my initial reaction to it. “Pencils?” I thought. “Who cares?”

    Well, now I know: what’s ephemera to one person is crucial to another. Who knew, eh?

  6. trippcook says:

    My personal tribute to Palomino Blackwings, the pencils I love so dearly.

  7. Ambiguity says:

    I don’t really get the pencil fetish, but I’m glad that folks take so much joy in small things, as life is really just a serise of small things…

  8. retrojoe says:

    I try to write with high quality fountain pens and well made, wood barreled pencils whenever possible. Not for nostalgia but because better tools are just better to work with.

  9. Drabula says:

    I’ll have to try one. Seems the focus here is on writing but I assume they are great for drawing as well. If you’re like me and draw as many hours a day as you can manage, pencils are the most obvious thing in the world to fixate on.

  10. haineux says:

    The good news is that if enough people request this pencil, it will become more available and less expensive. (Obviously this only applies while the company is making the product.) So no wonder Mark is talking about it.

    As far as that goes, no, the new ones will never be exactly the same as the old ones — in this case, the original wood is definitely no longer available, and maybe they had to change the graphite and the eraser recipe to keep the cost reasonable.

    But hey, if they can make a very nice pencil at a good price point, great. 

  11. Pickleschlitz says:

    The new one tends to smudge a bit more as your hand drags across it than the old one.

  12. tempbot says:

    If you’re willing to pay a lot for a pencil, make sure you get it sharpened by a professional:

  13. MB44 says:

    I still refuse to write on paper with anything except for my sharktooth- tipped, mammoth bone using reconstituted dinosaur blood as ink. I know, I know, it sounds particular but I am just so creative and quirky that I can’t help it.

    • hassenpfeffer says:

      MB, every profession has its quirks and its practitioners have their favorite tools. I do my professional writing almost exclusively in Emacs, then pull it into LibreOffice or Bean if it needs minor formatting, Scribus if it needs extensive formatting. My personal writing is “best,” IMO, if I use a very fine-pointed felt-tipped red pen on narrowly ruled or graphed yellow (legal-pad-style) paper. Yes, I do have OCD, but these are the things that have earned me a very good living over the past 20 years (things such as Scribus and Bean obviously having coming along more recently). Laugh away.

      • Ambiguity says:

        Scribus is cool, but Emacs? Seriously?

        I used to do all my writing in Emacs (and then usually set it in LaTeX), but then I said to myself: do I really want to be a dinosaur? That’s when I saw the light.

        I use VIM now…

        • hassenpfeffer says:

          My fingers have Emacs built into them after 20 years. Most of my professional work is sourced in XML and formatted via XSL. I refuse to get involved in the Holy Wars between the Cult of Emacs and the Cult of vi; the two tools are equally useful to different groups of people. I think your preference largely depends on which editor you first trained on.

      • MB44 says:

        It was just a joke about eccentricity. Don’t take me too seriously, because believe me, I don’t deserve it.

  14. There are some recurring topics on BB that I get annoyed with. Pencils is not one of them. Do I write with a pencil? Never. Do I understand this obsession? Yes. And I love it.

    I wish one of the editors was obsessed with lower-end ballpoint pens.  

  15. Brad Gake says:

    These are big in the animation community.  I think Glen Keane uses them.

  16. Matt D says:

    I’m not much of one for Simpson quotes, but: “I knew the dog before he came to school”

  17. studio602 says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed them.

  18. ogvor says:

    Hmm, I guess this means the New Yorker’s famous fact checking only applies to the print edition? Or did they not try a google search for Boing Boing+blackwing?

  19. SedanChair says:

    These weren’t even on my radar (I’m a Pentel 209 type of guy) but now they are.

  20. Mujokan says:

    Who is Mister Jalopy, your imaginary friend?

  21. dculberson says:

    Oh no!!  Not an EMACS war!  Those are endless and deadly.

  22. Adam Fields says:

    C-x C-s C-x C-c. 

    There, I just ended your emacs war.

        • valdis says:

          No. Never.   :wq!  is probably the single most dangerous thing in vi.  The problem is that the write and quit commands are queued – so if the write fails (disk full, USB storage not plugged in right, etc), the q! will still execute anyway and you lose all your changes.

          It’s amazing how many vi users I’ve had to point that out to over the years.  Mostly other sysadmins – and if we’re in a situation where I’m reading over another sysadmin’s shoulder closely enough to catch the idfference between :w :q  and :wq!, we’re probably working on a bad problem – one where :w has a high chance of failing…

  23. Blackwing pencils are the new vintage typewriter. What’s next — artisan chalk?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Blackwing pencils are the new vintage typewriter. What’s next — artisan chalk?

      You’re not an artist, are you?

  24. stuck411 says:

    Growing up I’d see a pencil or two like this in parent’s desk. My mom used to be a school teacher and I think it was from the days she did the school’s yearbook/newspaper back in the 1950s. As a little kid I thought it was a cool artist’s invention. Her pencils had a brush at the end where the eraser would be. Draw out your picture in pencil, then flip the pencil over to paint it in with the brush. Kind of like those drill / head driver combos for your electric drill.

    Mom had to go ruin the illusion with a demonstration of how it would brush off the scraps left by the thick gummy rubber eraser. Definitely not as cool.

  25. I personally prefer sticking my finger in some mud and writing with it on something white.

    All technology should be brought down to the level everyone can understand

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