My pens came! My pens came!

I ordered two sets of Copic markers last week, and one of them arrived today. I sat down with these 72 colors (well… 71. There are two “shades” of black that I can’t tell apart.) and colored a reference sketch of an alien I designed. It didn’t come out too badly.

Then I felt ready to tackle a character I was actually reasonably familiar with: The leggy, curvaceous Doctor Edward “Bunni” Bunnigus.


The text bubble (which I’ve not added yet) will likely read “Bend over, soldier. This is going to hurt.”


These markers blend better than the Prismacolors, they’re easier to use, and their case is much more convenient than the patented Prismacolor open-and-fold box. Oh, and they’re refillable. If it gets to the point that I’m doing enough commissioned artwork to run these dry, I’ll be able to afford refills.

Yes, I’m planning on doing some commissioned pieces. I’ll post details in an Open Letter under the comic soon.

–Howard

26 thoughts on “My pens came! My pens came!”

    1. Yes, well, me too. I figured it was just my dirty mind.

      Now I’m wondering if the problem lies in the subject line itself. I suspect that if it had read “My pens arrived! My pens arrived!”, I might well have…

      …no, no, I still would’ve read it wrong. I’m just a lost cause, I guess. 🙂

    1. It depends on where you shop…

      Cost obviously depends on where you shop. Individually purchased, the markers run $4.95 each, so a set of 72 would be just over $350. The sets always get you a per-marker discount, though, and if you shop around you can get even better prices.

      Still… I shelled out $229 for this set. Another set is on the way. I dropped just over $450 on markers.

      –Howard

      1. Re: It depends on where you shop…

        Gulp! that’sa lot of cash…!

        My daughter has ambitions to be a manga and/or comic book artist, I just know at some point I’m going to get asked to shell out for something like those…
        I don’t suppose you have any recommendations for a slightly cheaper, ‘beginners’ version of those ?

        or should I tell her to forget it and stick with purely digital based art. [I can at least code those sorts of programs myself!]

        1. It just *seems* like a lot of money …

          But it’s a work expense. An item that furthers the creation of income-producing artwork. In that context, it’s not a big wad of cash, it’s seed-cash. A starter’s stash. It’s like filling the car gas tank to drive to and from work, or buying the suit to wear to work.

          I don’t see a box of button blanks as $500 purchase. I see it as part of another bunch of buttons to sell. Ditto with the $70 circle cutter …. sure it’s overpriced, but it’s a mega-time savings over cutting out 10,000 circles by hand (just try it sometime. You’ll shortly be begging to be gouged for a cutter).

          The button supplies enable me to create income-producing buttons, and the cutter makes the whole process ever so much faster and easier. There would *be* no buttons without the supplies, and there would be a much less attractive and professionally-done Schlock without good pens.

          Sorry to get into lecture mode there. I’d love to see what gets recommended for beginner’s version of pens.

          1. Re: It just *seems* like a lot of money …

            I grant you that’s true enough once one is an artist, but my daughter, being only 15, is still very much learning her trade.
            Put it this way, you don’t hand an apprentice the best tools…

            [or the worst either, unless you’re my bastard woodwork teacher from school!]

        2. Re: It depends on where you shop…

          Rule #1: For beginning artists, color is a crutch. Color will hide (or at least mask) bad line-art because it changes by a about an order of magnitude the amount of visual information available to be processed. If you want to get good, learn to make your stuff look good uncolored first.

          Rule #2: You get what you pay for. The cheaper Prismacolor markers I started with prevented me from learning much of the coloring tricks I needed to learn. Fortunately there are tools OTHER THAN MARKERS out there… colored pencils. For about $1.00 per pencil you can really rock-and-roll. I’ve got a set of 120 that I’ve gotten great use out of. You can learn color blending techniques with these, and they’re much more forgiving than markers. Click here for great prices.

          Rule #3: Learning to draw and/or color using the computer is tricky, because a large part of the skill set is teaching your hands. You’ll need a tablet for that, and Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator to ensure that all the nuances of the tablet are captured on the screen… By the time you shell out for that you’ll be begging to only spend $500 on markers.

          Ultimately, it’s like Sharon said. You’re not buying toys. You’re paying for an education, and making business expenses. I’m dropping right around $600 on learning to color better — a Photoshop class, these markers, and a book on coloring Manga (scroll down — I caved in and bought it at 2am).

          –Howard

          1. Re: It depends on where you shop…

            The books I’ve already got her [I know a discounted bookshop where I can get those really cheap]. She’s got a few more to get before having a full set, but she has all of the core elements.

            The rest of the advice is very greatfully received. She already has a collection of fairly good coloured pencils, as well as water-colour pencils, in her kit. [thanks to winning an art compertition.] So it’s good to know that the techniques will translate across.

            She also has a mediocre tablet and pen for her computer, it’s a Cool-iPad, cost about £80, which for an A5 tablet isn’t bad… it’s not brillent, but it’s good enough for now. I’ll follow your S.O’s suggestion and buy some of the Prismacolor pens from our local Staples, [yeah, we have them here too.]

            But I think the best ‘investment’ I can make here is time, and since she’s homeschooled she do nothing all morning, every morning, except practice her art. [which she loves doing anyway.]

            I must remember to shoot some of her stuff along, once I get her scanner fixed. [it’s old, secondhand but adequte, just tempremental.] You’ll be able to see what’s she’s able to do yourself then.

            Oh, and thanks again. If you need anyone to help you out with photoshop, gimme a shout. I use it a lot myself, with some fair to midling results.

        3. Re: It depends on where you shop…

          Prismacolor Markers are what Howard started with. You can buy smallish sets at Staples for around $24. The small sets would allow your daughter to practice and get a feel for marker work before decided whether the expensive pens are a worthwhile investment for her.

          1. Re: It depends on where you shop…

            You can also start with a smaller set of markers. My sister just upgraded to copics and went with about 30 colors. Then you add additional markers to the collection over time. It’s like painting. While you are learning, you start witha basic set of colors and learn to mix them, and as you are learning any money you can squirrel away gets put into replacing empty tubes and adding new colors. The How to Draw Manga book from below offers suggestions as to which markers to get to start with, by the way.

    1. How long?

      How long? About an hour, start-to-finish. That includes some time spent on the phone, and some time spent being very, very careful as I colored because I had kids pestering me.

      With practice, these will take less than half that long. The inking took maybe 10 minutes, because it was a character and a pose I was familiar with — adding another 20 to color it seems pretty conservative.

  1. Good gravy, Howard, that’s great! Have I told you before that you’re the single webtoonist that I really feel jealousy towards? Probably because we started at about the same time, with the same motivations, but you’ve so totally outstripped me (literally and figuratively) that it’s not funny. But you’re also far too funny and clever a guy, and too talented a ‘toonist, to be angry and jealous at. You deserve all the success you can rake in.

    Anyway, that’s one fine Bunni!

    1. Thanks, Matt.

      Thanks, Matt.

      In fairness, I think one of the reasons my artwork has come so far so fast is my schedule. I’ve been doing 9 rows a week on the average (6 dailies and a three-row-Sunday), and you’ve been doing three. Over four years, I’ve drawn 1872 rows of comics, where you’ve drawn about 625.

      Go back and look at my artwork in September of 2001. That’s where I was after 625 rows worth of practice.

      I’m not trying to put you down. Far from it — I’m trying to point out that what I’ve accomplished isn’t thanks to some magical gift. It’s thanks to lots of plain-Jane, time-down-the-drain practice.

      –Howard

      1. Re: Thanks, Matt.

        Wow…. 1900 rows of comics?

        I know a lot of it is volume, volume, volume. And you’ve got the volume part down pat. But you also are willing to put a lot more time and work into doing your comics than me, and that is also reflected in the final product. It still takes me so long to do a single strip that I usually don’t feel like drawing anything else after I’m finished one.

        I knew you weren’t trying to slag me; you’re too classy a guy for that. And I don’t want to sound like I’m whining about my success or perceived lack of it. I know that hard work, for the most part, is what generates success, and the amount of hard work I devote to my own comic is my own personal choice (or fault, depending). From the very beginning, Schlock Mercenary has been one of my favorite webcomics, and one I would have loved to have created myself. If only my math was better. 😉

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