For the past few years, I’ve drawn almost everything with two particularly lovely Japanese marker pens, the Tombow ‘Fudenosuke’ GCD-111 and GCD-112. There’s one shop in New Zealand that sells the things, and I buy them in bulk. However, supplies are patchy, and for some time they’ve not had them at all. Hopefully, that’ll change, but it prompted me to put out a call to the all-knowing interweb, in case anyone can help.
Here is information about the pens on Tombow’s website (in English), and here is the GCD-111 on amazon.jp. Unfortunately, even amazon.jp won’t ship them outside Japan, which I assume is an indication that Tombow has all kinds of licensing arrangements for the rest of the world. Which would be fine, but neither their US or European online catalogues include these pens, and no online retailer that I’ve been able to find (outside of Japan) seems to stock them either. If I could read Japanese, I could probably order them from one of the many Japanese online retailers that google offered me – but I can’t.
So here’s the thing: if anyone out there knows an easier way to get them, please let me know. I’d be very grateful.
By the way, I was first alerted to these wonderful pens by Timothy Kidd, who also uses them, along with a number of other cartoonists and illustrators I’ve spoken to. They’re a truly wonderful pen: waterproof, dark, but most importantly they allow you to vary your line from a fine, sharp pen-like thing to an almost brush-like swish, while still enjoying all the convenience and ease of drawing with a marker-pen. They suit my own drawing hand perfectly. I’m quite sure they’d find an enthusiastic market outside Japan if only someone would try…
One last note of caution: Tombow make another (related) range of multi-coloured ‘brush pen’ markers (the ABT range), which are quite different, and – while probably perfect for some people’s purposes – are of no use to me. Just about every stationery store I try stocks these (or else the related WB-300TN Tombow Dual-tip brush pen, which is far cruder than the ones I use). If I sound bitter, it’s because many of my searches for the GCD-111 has ended with a store clerk triumphantly brandishing one of these dual-tip monstrosities as if it were the holy grail. It’s one of life’s great ironies that this crude dual-tip beast is available almost everywhere, while the far superior GCD pens – a true masterpiece of marker pen design – is rare as hen’s teeth.
Although, for all I know, maybe Tokyo has a Tombow GCD vending machine on every street corner…?