Writers, as you might expect, tend to be pen whores, even if all our writing is done on a keyboard. There’s just something about that stark black line flowing onto a pristine page, turning into a letter, a word, a sentence…it’s like crack. Today I got a package from JetPens, my new pusher in the world of office supplies, and just for fun, I thought I’d share my new toys.
Being left-handed, having essential tremor, and having tiny tiny handwriting, I tend toward quick-drying gel rollers and needle points to cut down on smudging and general floopyness. Here’s a quick review of the pens I ordered this time round, along with a wee writing sample of each as well as links to more information over on the JetPens website.
First, as a baseline, let me start with the pen I’ve been using for a decade now which, regrettably, I have grown weary of. In fact part of my reasoning for my JetPens binge was to try and find a new go-to pen, especially since I’m about to start a nifty e-course by Hope Wallace on agenda journaling (more info at her site).
Pilot P-500 Extra Fine (.5mm), Black
That funky pen with the clouds on it, right? I’ve been through dozens of these over the years; it was my first experience with a needle point pen, and one of the few I could reliably find at the grocery store. It turns out they’re not the best in the world: the nib tends to bend easily (I have a heavy hand, especially when drawing) and the ink flow is inconsistent (though that might just be because all the pens I have are old). Still, they write nicely, dry quickly, and are cheap enough that losing one every time I take it out of my bag isn’t that much of a tragedy.
Pentel EnerGel X Needle Point Retractable Gel (.5mm), Black
This one is recommended for southpaws as its ink dries almost instantly. It also has a comfortable rubberized grip (latex free). Another plus is that it’s eco-friendly: it’s made of 84% recycled plastic and is refillable.
The EnerGel is comfy in hand and lays down LIKE BUTTAH, I tell you. It’s also hella cheap, at $1.35 apiece on the website (and better if you get a box). Comes in lots of colors, lots of widths, as do many of the pens mentioned in this post.
Uni-Ball Signo RT1 Gel Roller, Rectractable, Pink body (.38mm), Black
One of the rare cases in which the lid/clip isn’t the same color as the ink inside. This little number is sexy – it has a new tip design that’s rounded without edges, supposedly to reduce friction and improve the writing experience. The grip is rubber but blends almost seamlessly into the plastic body. Most ultra-fine point pens are scratchy on the paper, almost like you’re tattooing the page instead of drawing on it, but the scratch factor is very low on the Signo RT1.
It feels like it will be comfortable for extended writing periods – I haven’t gotten that far with it yet. We’re moving slowly. But so far I’m thinking it’s at least getting to second base.
Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen (.5mm), Black
Featuring waterproof archival-quality ink, this is the latest in my long line of attempts at finding the perfect drawing pen. I’ve been through enough Pitt and Micron pens to fill the Grand Canyon, and the main problem is that heavy hand I mentioned – fiber-tipped pens get ground into dust when I use them.
Enter the Ohto! It produces the same kind of lines, but has a metal tip that’s way more durable than fiber. It’s going to be hard to HULK SMASH PUNY NIB! on this baby. I’ve never been entirely happy with the lines I get from other fiber-tip pens – my hand tremors mean that it’s hard for me to maintain curves if the tip has just a tiny bit too much friction, so I end up drawing much thicker lines to cover up the wobbles. As you can see from the sample this little darling may make a huge difference in that.
Copic Multiliner, 0.3 (.5mm width), Black
If you know anything about the paper crafting and art journaling world you’ve no doubt heard of Copic markers, one of the few markers that can give you genuine sticker shock. Averaging $8-10 apiece, Copics are supposedly the bee’s knees, and even though the price is somewhat insane, they are refillable and their tips can be switched and replaced.
Copic also makes drawing pens. They’re traditional fiber-tipped, but I’d heard good things so I gave it a shot. Now, I bought the non-refillable kind, which is way cheaper but JetPens doesn’t carry it, so the link below is to the SP model, which is refillable. They both use the same ink and both write basically the same.
And I gotta admit, Copic knows its shit. The Multiliner has a lovely smooth ink flow, and uses pigment ink that’s waterproof (and Copic proof – many regular pens fall before the might of Copic marker ink). I’m going to try and be gentle with it and see if I can avoid smooshing its tip.
Uni-Ball Signo UM151 Gel Roller (.38mm), Bordeaux Black
Oh baby. Another Signo pen, but this one has a cap and is a tiny .38mm for a spider-thread of a line. Its tip is mega sturdy, and its ink is waterproof; technically the pen is refillable, but JetPens only carries your usual pen colors for it, and not the fantastic, sex-in-a-nib color I’m showing you here.
The Bordeaux Black Signo is one of what they call Off Black Inks (link goes to a guide to different types) that are basically goth versions of normal colors. This one is a deep purple-y burgundy, and WE LOVES IT, PRECIOUS. The laydown is smooth, though it feels a bit scratchy due to the tiny metal tip, but it’s a fun pen. I heard that a lot of professors use it to mark up papers, since bright red ink has shown to negatively affect students’ mental health (whoever studies this kind of crap). I can believe a silly claim like that, because I remember how jarring regular red ink is on your paper – just like bright red comments on a Word document that make it look like your beloved masterwork is bleeding. Funny how something that looks a lot more like blood would be so soothing to the eye.
See also: Scorpio.
Uni-Ball Vision Elite BLX Roller (.5mm), Purple Black
Speaking of sexy off-blacks, the BLX series is nothing but same, and the Purple Black I ordered is freaking gorgeous. The ink is archival quality (always a plus), airplane-safe, and chemical resistant to prevent fraud.
The Uni-Ball’s ink dries ever so slightly slower than some of the others I tried here, so it can smear if you run your hand over it quickly enough, but as long as you’re not scrawling you shouldn’t have a problem. The ink is dark enough to look black from a distance but is a lovely dark purple up close.