Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finding Fude Pens in the US

I've mentioned in prior pen reviews that while I love Jetpens, I wish fude pens were more commonly available in the US.  When I go to art supply stores, I always check around to see if any brands have made the witch to stateside distribution, and I'm usually disappointed.  Living in Nashville, my options are limited to overpriced Pla-Za and 40 minute drive Jerry's Artarama, so I took my search for American distribution online.

Pilot

Upon casually browsing Pilot's English site, I can't seem to even FIND fude or sign pens, which is strange as I know they make several.  Searching the terms 'sign pen' and 'fude pen' didn't bring any enlightenment- while 'sign pen' did bring up results, none of them were the flexible nibbed pens fans of Japanese stationary recognize as 'sign pens'.  Similarly, nothing comes up for 'brush pen'. Does Pilot feel there's no need to bring their fude pens over because they feel there's no market?

Kuretake

Kuretake's English Site was annoying to navigate- I can't seem to actually click on any of the categories I'd like to explore, so I went to their Zig site instead.  While their Zig site shows that they make fude pens (they're included on the graphic for the 'Brushes' category), I can't seem to easily view their selection or order from the site.  Their separate online shop (UK) does have some interesting offerings including:

Zig Art and Graphic Twin
An Entire Section of Fude Pens
Zig CocoIro

The Zig site also offers some brush pens that I've never seen offered on Jetpens.  These include
Zig Cartoonist Manga Flexible Fine
Zig Cartoonist Manga Flexible Medium

Mitsubishi Uni

Uni or Uni-ball in the US, is as bad as Pilot's English site.  Although they have an interesting range of products in Japan, their American offerings are more limited- rollerball pens, pencils, gel pens, and their Jetstream line, none of which include brush pens.

Sailor

I really couldn't find an official English site for Sailor, just several vendors who carry some of their fountain pens.

Pentel

The Pentel English site is much better, and has a winder range of offerings.  Although their site advertises sign pens, it seems like they may be in the process of rebranding their sign pens to the Pentel Touch (which is still a sign pen).  I managed to find a few that didn't lead to a dead end, and would be interested in comparing the old and new iterations.  While we wait for Pentel to finish updating their English site, Pentel Touch is available through both Jetpens and DickBlick's  (search for sign, not Pentel Touch) online store.

Besides the Pentel Touch, Pentel's English site lists many pens that would be interesting to comic artists and illustrators. These include:

Black Color Brush
Sign Pen Brush Tip
Aquash Brush with Pigment Ink
Metallic Brush Pens
Pentel Pocket Brush and refills
Sign Pen Multi Color Pack

Unfortunately it seems for those of us who aren't fortunate enough to live in New York or San Francisco, areas blessed with Kinokuniya, Daiso, and Japanese stationary stores, we'll be ordering our Japanese stationary supplies online from sites like Jetpens.  Some stores like Jerry's Artarama occasionally carries little known (in the US) Asian art supplies, so if you have one local to your area, they are well worth checking out.  If you have a locally owned art supply store, they may be willing to place orders for you, or take stock recommendations.