Friday, March 30, 2012

Three Pens, Fifteen Dollars: In Which Dr. Inkenstein Reviews Guanleming

Guanleming is a brand of Chinese fountain pen that Dr. Inkenstein ever heard of. Luckily, a post on FPN about new stock at Isellpens revealed that there are at least three models, at FIVE DOLLARS EACH.
Sold! And here they are, in a sadly-murky snapshot:

The only one that I loaded was the Demonstrator ( with J Herbin Eclat de Saphir ink); the rest were dip-tested (my own mix called ‘Navy Green.’). Paper was a Rhodia grid pad, which is wonderful to write on, and Dr. Inkenstein loves a grid layout, but it looks a little funny in scans, so my apologies… will probably switch future reviews to paper with NO lines.   The handwritten scans appear above the review for each pen.

For such low-priced pens, they feel and perform beyond expectations. Each has a different look/nib, but they're all bulb-fillers, with the typical metal tube covering the bulb. They’ll hold more ink than a standard international cart, but not as much as a piston-filler. Not all the caps post, but the pressure-fit is pretty good.

The Demonstrator (2001) above: Advertised as ‘The Baystate Blue Pen,’ this little lightweight number would indeed be a good pen to dedicate to that tricky color. In fact, at this price, you could buy several just as ink testers, but the pen’s better than just that, with a smooth, responsive hooded nib that gives some character to your writing. I’d classify it as a ‘fine.’ It’s comfortable to hold, and the gold clip just looks cool. Dr. Inkenstein is having a lot of fun with this.


The 978 ‘Accountant’ pen, above, has my favorite look of the trio: brushed silver finish, gold trim contrasting with the shiny black bullet of a section also ringed with gold. This is a heavier pen than the demonstrator, with a comfortable grip. The clip is elaborately fashioned, with grooves and steps and an incised symbol, ending in a ball. The hooded nib writes a fine, firm line well enough that I wish I could fill it, but I’m a little afraid I put a hole in the bulb by twisting too hard when I removed the metal tube. One day, maybe, when Dr. Inkenstein is in the mood for inky fingers….

The 193 above is a fude, sometimes known as a Chinese calligraphy nib. The end of the nib turns up, allowing for a great variety of line. Held at a low angle, the pen writes like a B; upside down, it writes a hairline, and with a little practice you can get just about everything in between. It sports a brown and black finish, a black section which gives it a semi-hooded appearance (unusual in fude), and a gold Parker-type arrow clip. Though the nib is on the rough side compared to some other fude, for collectors (such as Dr. Inkenstein!) this little lightweight example of the genre is a good addition. The cap does not post on this model, but balance and esthetics are okay without it.

The pictures on the Isellpens web site are much, much better than mine, so go have a look.

Here they are, in Specials.

A couple of other pens (a Baoer, another Guanleming) arrived in that order. Look for those reviews coming soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Landscape With Blur: In Which We Post Another YYH Fanfic

Not my usual fare, but featuring a much-underappreciated character from Yuu Yuu Hakusho.  Kuwabara Kazuma happens to be one of my favorites, and this story places him in a journey of the heart.

The illo was done on vellum, probably with watercolor and/or colored pencil (too long ago to recall).

This particular tale takes place just before Yuusuke tracks down Hiei, Gouki, and Kurama to retrieve the objects they've stolen from Reikai.

Here follows an excerpt:

Title: Landscape With Blur
Author: JaganshiKenshin
Genre: General
Rating: K+/PG-13
Summary: Kuwabara Kazuma awakens in an unfamiliar house, facing the battle of his life.

He wasn't sure he had it in him, but Kuwabara the man always gave his best.

Landscape With Blur

The persistent jeet-jeet of cicadas awakened him.

It was hot. For a few moments, Kuwabara Kazuma did not remember where he was. Then his gaze traveled past the end of his futon, where he had propped a hand-lettered card that displayed the comfortable, familiar motto, like a miniature inspirational poster:

Sleep, Eat, Fight Urameshi.

He'd slept; still needed to eat, but as for the fight-

For once, it had nothing to do with Urameshi Yuusuke....

...Kazuma's mouth felt dry. This was not going to be a fight in the sense that he would have to clock someone. This battle would take place in a much more painful realm.

Read the rest of the tale here:

Landscape With Blur