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.