Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Return of the Blackwing Pencil

Here's something that will make Jenny Lerew and many other animation artists happy: the Blackwing pencil will be manufactured once again.

These pencils were standard in the animation industry for years. I first encountered them at Zander's Animation Parlour in the 1970s. According to the Boing Boing link, original pencils are going for as high as $40 apiece on Ebay, so you know that some people really value these things. Personally, I always found them impossible to erase, but they did make a beautiful dark line that worked really well when photocopying drawings onto cels, the technology of the time.

No word yet on whether the new manufacturer is able to match Eberhard Faber's quality or when the pencils will be generally available, but Mark Frauenfelder promises to review the advance pencils he will be receiving.


Jim Caswell said...

This may be the new normal. Apparently it erases for a while.


Floyd Norman said...

They were great if you worked on the Disney shorts or television programs.

Only the great Iwao Takamoto could master the Blackwing on Disney feature films.

Harry said...

That's fascinating--I didn't know they were gone, but I always had trouble finding them.

When I drew more, I loved Blackwings--which were recommended to me by Chuck Jones. (No, we didn't have many heart-to-hearts about art implements--I went to a gallery show in Boston in about 1985 that he attended, and he pulled one from his pocket and extolled its virtues to those of us who were flocking around him.)

I recently went to the Broadway show Sondheim on Sondheim, which incorporates video of Sondheim talking about how he does what he does. He writes scores in longhand, using Blackwing pencils. I wonder if he stocked up?


spokeshave said...

John Ewing told me that they very rarely used them at Disney's, even though you see lots of pictures of the animators with a Blackwing in their hands. I'm sure I've seen one of John Lounsbery with one in hand and John Ewing said he only used fat pencils, the fatter the better. Dick Purdum loved them but I had to use an F when working on his stuff because I pressed so hard the Blackwing's line looked like I'd used a 6B.

Doug said...

Some years ago I read that Richard Rogers used the Blackwing 602 for his Broadway musical scores. Since the young Sondheim was mentored by Rogers' lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, it's possible that Rogers introduced Sondheim to the Blackwing. I have a couple of preproduction Palomino Blackwings on the desk in front of me right now. They have the same luscious, soft line as they originals. At the moment, the slogan "HALF THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED" does not appear on these pencils, but I've suggested to Palomino that they add it to the production pencil. It's great to have Blackwings back on the market!