Hilarious Cartoonist Dave Blazek on the Oddcast

“Loose Parts” author Dave Blazek (some of which is collected in ODDFISH SANDWICH) talks to the Liars Club about how to create a comic strip, how he taught himself to draw out of necessity, and more very funny and entertaining topics, on this week’s Oddcast.  THE ODDFISH ODDCAST.

Liars Club Oddcast logo

Loose Parts


Return of the Inkograph

So, this week, clearing out a drawer, I came upon the Koh-i-noor Inkograph pen with which I wrote nearly every first draft of everything from about 1973 until its rear tip cracked more than a decade later.

Koh-i-noor Inkograph

The Inkograph was modeled upon Koh-i-noor technical pens, but it had a fountain pen tip (not a nib, but a tube for writing)—that is, it looked like a technical pen but wrote like a fountain pen. Back at the University of Iowa, Joe Haldeman and I were both Inkograph fanatics, and we remain fountain pen addicts to this day, who (in what can only be considered an act of male pen-bonding) still whip out our current devices and talk about them, about inks, about notebooks. No, really, we’re fine otherwise.

I retired this Inkograph long ago, but found its husk in a sleeve and thought, “What the hell, let’s fire this baby up!” And, lo, filled with some Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron ink, it writes as though I’d never stopped using it. What I notice now is how light it is compared to most of my other fountain pens. It seems to weigh nothing.

Somewhere around 1976, Koh-i-noor stopped manufacturing the Inkograph, more’s the pity. I still have one, pristine, unopened and unused, in its little carboard tube somewhere. Probably, it’s about time I hauled that pen out, loaded it with something vibrant, and penned a story with it.

Pen fanatics will likely already know that the Inkograph went through various permutations as the Rapidograph technical pen itself did. Some of these turn up at pen shows like the Philadelphia Pen Show, but so far I’ve yet to come across another example of this version (and don’t I wish I’d bought up all of the ones that Lind’s Art Supplies had back in ’76 other than the one I’ve never used…maybe it’s time to find out how it writes.)


Inks and Notebooks and Pens (oh, my)

Not all that long ago I posted about Circa notebooks on Facebook, and restrained myself from posting about related obsessions, notably pens and inks. Author Michael Swanwick responded with a demand for something about those other elements of the addiction. And so here is a little bit more on the subject.

This then is a little bit of the insanity of ink and pen obsession I attempted to stay away from the first time. Blame Michael Swanwick.

I write with a fountain pen. Hemingway and Robert Ludlum wrote with pencils. A lot of pencils. My longtime friend Joe Haldeman writes, likewise, with a pen and ink. In fact, at one time Joe and I were addicted to the Koh-i-noor Inkograph, a “fountain pen” version of a technical pen, the Rapidograph. (If that doesn’t date us, nothing will.) Once upon a time, on an IBM Selectric typewriter, I could type about 90 words a minute. Generally, this is more words than I can think in a minute (go ahead, try). So I tried a fountain pen because it forced me to slow way down and pay attention to the words. There is also an added tactility to this way of writing, and with fountain pens in particular, a ritual approach to it that is surely the equivalent of a Japanese tea ceremony. And writers, I have to tell you, can be very obsessive, and possessive, about their process.

It was delightful then to find out some years later that Joe and I had both gravitated to Noodler’s Legal Lapis ink. Noodler’s ink is a favorite of mine. At one point they were manufacturing inks for the Russian market, and you could get your hands on “Dostoevski” or “Pasternak” as color choices. (I never did score a “Bulgakov.”)

The photo shows a couple of notebooks, a huge bottle of ink, and a lovely Conklin pen filled with that ink, which is a rich black called (wait for it) “Heart of Darkness.” If you write with this ink, you might find yourself muttering, “The horror, the horror.”

Notebook, pen, and ink.