Japanese manga artists have it good. They can walk to the nearest bookstore and buy any line of pens all suited for creating manga. Artists outside of Japan, however, have a challenge in getting manga-purposed supplies, especially cheap inking pens.
Right now, pens by Too are cornering the inked market. They make Copic-brand supplies, from nibs to colored liners. In Japan, a set of 9 regular Copic multiliner pens are around 1795 yen or $18 while Western online shops sell them for more than $20. Copic drawing pens with nibs and Copic Ciao color brush pens are 250 yen or $2.50 each, half the cost of what Western stores sell.
So where do you get these pens and how much do they cost? Here’s a list of online stores selling pens for manga artists and ship internationally. (Prices may vary.)
|Brand / Pen Type||# of Pens||DickBlick||JetPens||Jerry’s Artarama||Chicago Airbrush Supply||Blue Line Pro||Comic Artist Supplies||Akadot|
|Copic Multiliner Fine Nib Pens||1||$4.60||$2.99|
|Copic Multiliner Fine Nib Pens||4||$8.69|
|Copic Multiliner Fine Nib Pens||7||$16.75||$20.93|
|Copic Multiliner Assorted||9||$19.95||$26.91|
|Copic Multiliner SP||1||$7.96||$8.95||$7.55|
|Copic Multiliner SP Set||5||$44.75|
|Copic Multiliner SP Set||10||$89.50|
|Sakura Manga Sensei Series||1||$1.99||$2.00|
|Sakura Manga Sensei Series||6||$11.99|
|Sakura Manga Sensei Series||9||$11.62|
|Sakura Pigma Micropen||3||$6.72||$5.28|
|Sakura Pigma Micropen Set||6||$13.04||$10.56|
|Sakura Pigma Manga Comic Pro Set||6||$7.97||$18.00|
|Sakura Pigma All-Black Collection Cube||16||$39.99|
|Kuretake Manga Penholder||1|
|Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Pen||1||$2.15|
|Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Set||3|
|Deleter Neopiko Line 2 Pen||1||$3.99||$5.40|
|Tria Triple Nib Marker||1||$2.49||$5.99|
|Faber-Castell Extra Superfine Pitt Pen||1||$2.06||$2.10|
|Faber-Castell Pen Set||8||$13.97|
|Faber-Castell Extra Superfine Pitt Pen Set||10||$26.68|
|Prismacolor Illustration Markers||4||$7.32|
|Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Marker Sets||5||$9.93|
|Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Marker Sets||8||$15.87|
|Acruit Technical Drawing Pen||1||$1.00|
|Acruit Technical Drawing Pen Set||9||$8.99|
|Acruit Technical Drawing Pen Set||12||$9.99|
|Isoman Technoart Pen Nib||1||$1.99|
|Marvy Uchida LePen||12||$15.48|
|Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Points||1||$16.35|
|Pentel Sign Pen||1||$1.23|
|E + M Artists Nib Holder||1||$9.50|
|Tachikawa School-G Nib Pen||1||$6.75||$5.80 – $6.58|
|Zebra Comic Pen Nib Holder||1||$3.30|
|STABILO Fineliner Pen||1||$.75|
|STABILO Sensor Pen||1||$1.49|
*All prices are not guaranteed, so please check with their websites.
This online anime store has two pen lines, the Deleter Neopiko Line 2 Pens ($47.19 for 10) and the Tachikawa New Nib School-G Pens ($10.39 for 1). They also have international shipping.
This online manga university also sells manga tools, including Tachikawa All-in-One Manga Pen ($9.99 for 1) and the Ultimate Manga Pen Set ($24.99 for Tachikawa and Nikko nibs and nib holders). To calculate your country’s postage, enter your location after adding the item(s) to your cart.
For UK artists, there are 2 shops that will ship to you at a cheap rate.
This is the UK-based shop of the brand, Kuretake. Their most-popular pens are the Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Pens ($1.94 for 1 or $4.36 for 3). The Kuretake Shop only ships to the UK and Europe.
What better way to find Japanese pens and pen holders than by going to a calligraphy specialty store. This shop has everything calligraphy related, including art pens. They carry Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Pens (£1.55 for 1, £4.75 for 3), Kuretake Manga Pen Holders (£5.05 for 1), and Kurecolor Fine and Brush for Manga (£2.45 for 1), including the VAT at 20 percent. Scribblers has international shipping.
For even cheaper supplies, don’t forget to sign up for the shops’ club cards or mailing lists.
Dick Blick offers a 10 percent discount if you have a Dick Blick Preferred Card.
Jerry’s Artarama has various discounts when you’ve signed up for their Online Email Club.
Blue Line Pro has a yearly membership for their Club Blue Artist Discount Club that drops prices by 15 percent. This membership isn’t free—it costs $14.99 per year.
Akadot’s Retail Membership is $15 per year to get a 5 percent discount on your purchases. After $1000 of purchases, they’ll give you a $20 gift card.
When I first started drawing manga, I used to buy the Sakura Pigma and Pigma Micron pens at Michael’s (they sell them at full retail price). I didn’t have a car or much money. It was when I started going to conventions that I saw there were many different pens out there, and I quickly realized that pens from Sakura Pigma and Faber-Castell were stealing my money. Both brands don’t give you enough ink (that’s why they’re so lightweight), the nibs break or split in half after a few uses, and the line quality is really bad. Right now, I’m using Copic, Tachikawa, and Mitsubishi pens. They give me a good amount of ink and the nib replacements are cheap and easy to find. They do cost more than Sakura Pigma and Faber-Castell pens, but they’re also higher quality.
Professional Artist Veronica Fish’s Reviews
Review of Marvy Uchida’s LePen Series
Review of Pentel, Zebra Comic, Tachikawa School-G, Deleter #5, and Lowe Cornell Pens and Brushes:
Review of Pentel Brush Pens: http://veronicahebs.blogspot.jp/2010/01/japanese-brush-pens-review.html
If you’d like a printable version of this post to compare prices, you can download Manga Pens for Microsoft Word.
UPDATED (6/29/2015): Nibs are an alternative to using liners and pens. For a guide on nibs and nib holders, check out JetPens’ Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders.
Happy International Left-handers’ Day!
Did you know I’m left-handed? My father, my grandfather, my aunt, and my husband are also left-handed. Imagine all the smear stains we’ve gotten on our cuffs, how many artful turns of a paper we did to avoid ruined sleeves, how many decisions we’d have to make–throw left or right?–in our entire lives. No matter how many left-handers there are in my family, there aren’t many in the world (only 10 percent!). Left-handers are just as rare in Japan as in the States, but unlike their American counterparts, they don’t have as much trouble dealing with a right-side world.
In Japan, left-handedness isn’t seen as a conspiracy to make do with the Devil as it is in Western and Catholic countries. Sure, there was a time when Japanese viewed southpaws as impractical because of traditional calligraphy writing. Even though Japanese people still write from left to right when they make banners, the taboo of being left-handed, or giccho, is considered old news.
In recent times, Japanese students use regular notebooks or genkou youshi (原稿用紙), a Japanese manuscript paper for writing essays. This kind of paper has little boxes, each box for one character, and they’re read from right to left. Because traditional Japanese is read from the top downwards, essays are written the same way, top to down. It makes it easier for us lefties to write an essay in Japan, even if they’re apology or detention essays (you’ll see it in manga, anime, or in the discipline office in Japanese schools).
Of course, left-handers in Japan still face problems in the right-hander world. In contrast to manuscript paper, writing calligraphy on horizontal banners is oriented for right-handers. I wonder if famous calligraphers like Michiko Imai, Shinjo Ito, or Shingai Tanaka ever had trouble writing Japanese characters.
Looking for your real Leftorium? Here are some shops that can help you with your left-handed needs on this fine International Left-handers Day:
1. Lefty’s – https://www.leftyslefthanded.com/ (Special discounts on International Left-handers’ Day)
2. Anything Left-Handed – http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/
3. RU-Lefthanded – http://ru-lefthanded.co.uk/ocart/
4. Left-hand N.Z. – http://www.lefthandnz.com/
This will definitely go with the Manga Corner’s summer podcast about obon and Children of the Sea.
Obon season is fast upon us, so get into a spooky mood with three variations on the one of Japan’s most famous ghost stories over on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.
Okiku is one of the most interesting yurei in Japan. She is a true folktale, with multiple versions spread across the country. Anywhere there is an old castle and a well, there is a legend of Okiku. She isn’t always named Okiku, and she isn’t always counting plates, but the same details are there.
Here are three translations of some different versions of the legends. I started with the oldest, so you can see how the tale has changed over time. Over the course of learning about her, Okiku changed from a yurei I thought was kind of boring, to one of my favorites. She is the most Japanese of Japan’s famous ghosts.
If you like Okiku, there’s going to be a whole…
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I finally got my copy of The Princess of Tennis from Jamie Lynn Lano!
There aren’t many stories (if any) about Western manga assistants working in Japan. Jamie Lynn Lano tells all in this book and on her blog, Jamieism.com. You can buy The Princess of Tennis: The true story of working as a mangaka’s assistant in Japanon Amazon.
I’m at Super Saiyin status! Yup, I’ve reached 4 complete years of living and blogging in Japan!
I know, I know. Some Americans have reached city-stomping, moon-transforming monkey status in their tenth, twentieth, or even thirtieth years in Japan. Good for them! For me, it’s an awesome thing: I’m still living my dream! And I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Anime and manga does and doesn’t equal culture.
Just as any media doesn’t fully capture a single culture, it also says a lot about that culture. The Japanese population is mostly Japanese. From the time Japanese people are born until they die, there are certain things that’re taught to them. Did you know that Japanese students take Ethics and Morals in junior high school? And did you know Japanese students are punished more for not following the rules than their grades? No, maybe not. In reality, Japanese people aren’t allowed to stand out. Japan is a collective society, and in a country the size of California housing millions, the population can’t afford to be individualistic. But in anime and manga, you’ll see students who are totally different because of their natural talents or super abilities. In a way, these media are reflections of a country where the hammer strikes down the standing nail.
Design and marketing is on a whole different level in Japan.
Wherever you walk in Japan, you’re bound to find billboards upon billboards, posters behind posters, signs above signs of ads, ads, ads. Even if you can’t read them, these ads are successful at embedding colorful and creative images into your brain. Everything has a mascot (ever hear of Hello Kitty, Kumamon, Pikachu, or Luffy?). When I think of American ads, they don’t compare. Then again, the States has it good with creating recognizable brands. Hmm, maybe I’m wrong… Still, Japanese advertising makes me laugh!
Quality of (Insert a Noun) is cities above the American sense of quality
I’m absolutely in love with Japan’s sense of quality. It shows in mundane things: merchandise at thrift stores are clean and cared for; lunches are freshly prepared by mothers and lunchbox pros same day; fast food actually matches the pictures. So, yeah, quality of life is awesome in Japan. There’s the national healthcare that every working person can receive (OMG, Japan is Socialistic ::gasp::), and the older you are, the cheaper your optional car insurance becomes. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss the States, but some things–the crappy secondhand buys, the fat-salt-sugar-saturated processed food, and the bombardment of unhealthy lifestyles–aren’t living up to my quality of life anymore.
I miss the straightforwardness of the West
Japan is the land of beating around the bush. You can’t say anything directly because it’s seen as unfriendly. Instead of saying, “Why aren’t you wearing an undershirt?” you have to opt for a round-about way of saying things. “Aren’t you cold?” The real meaning: you’re not dressed properly for work! Then again, no one will tell you at the very beginning how to dress for work in Japan like in the States. “Do I have to wear suits? What color? How long?” You have to become a really great observer in Japan and answer the questions yourself. In a way, I find it refreshing. As Haruki Murakami wrote in 1Q84, “If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.”
American Prince of Tennis Manga Assistant to go to San Diego Comic Con???
You can help make this headline come true without the question marks!
One of my manga friends, an American manga assistant to the popular Prince of Tennis, needs your help! She’s trying to get to the annual San Diego Comic Con, the biggest pop culture convention in the continental U.S. In order to get there, she needs to find some funds.
This is what she wrote on her website and Facebook:
“I was invited to speak at San Diego Comic Con in July!!
The thing is that I need your help. I can only spare the time to come for the one day that I’m invited to speak, what with all of the chaos going on in my life, but I’ll fight hell or high water to be able to share my experiences with everyone. I just need some help paying for it. You know that I come from a poor family, and working for a mangaka didn’t pay all that well, nor does book writing (I wish that it did!).
But I don’t want the money to stand in my way. Instead of a corporation paying my way, I’m hoping that the fans will. That everyone who has heard my stories will chip in just a little bit.
I need your help, let’s help each other, ne?
Donate anything, even your pocket change! It’s a good opportunity for Americans to learn how to break into the manga in Japan Land!