Tag Team: Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen & J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe Ink

14 09 2020

Once upon a time, I thought it would be a good idea to go back through my reviews and update them with how a product held up over, say, several years. A pen can be great right out of the gate but if it kicks the bucket after a few months, that’s an important thing to consider in terms of whether it’s worth it. Unfortunately for the greater cause of knowledge, I never felt particularly inspired to actually take up this quest.

The road to incomplete pen knowledge is paved with good intentions

And while I still don’t feel especially compelled to launch that project, this ramble of a review certainly falls in line with that intention. I first reviewed the Akashiya Bamboo Body brush pen over 8 years ago, when JetPens apparently sent it to me for free (wow, thanks y’all, that was mighty kind and luckily I’ve gotten much better at using this thing since then). I also forgot that it used to have white writing on the barrel, because that has long since worn off. The rubber finial is a little scuffed, and the barrel now has a couple small cracks toward where it screws together, but it’s not something I notice when using the pen.

More cracks than a hackneyed joke about a 2-plumber convention. But less cracks than the same joke if there were 4 plumbers.

But this isn’t just about the brush pen, which has somehow survived 8 years of probable abuse and neglect. This is about that rare combo that elevates the pen into something better: J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe fountain pen ink IN the brush pen.

There’s the magic

Back when I was first using this brush pen, I fell into a trap thinking that it needed to be inked up with black ink. There’s no good reason for why I fell into this trap. I certainly noticed that the ink cartridge the pen came with was the same as a Platinum Preppy cartridge, but it took a shameful amount of time before I put together the realization that I ought to be using other colors of fountain pen ink in this brush pen for maximum drawing satisfaction–I don’t see evidence of me using colored ink in this pen for drawing until around 2015, and even then the inks I used (Sailor Yama-dori, J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor) did not inspire a renaissance of brush pen sketching like the Diabolo Menthe has.

Nothing will inspire a renaissance of color correcting all my images so they look like they took place in the same dimension

I’ve mentioned before that the turquoise family of colors is magical, and this holds true for the Diabolo Menthe. It’s light enough to be a great sketching color that looks good with darker lineart over top (the lineart also being the only means by which to correct mistakes), while also being dark enough to make visual sense for the frequent times I just don’t feel like making the effort of going back over a sketch with another pen.

Of course, sometimes lineart is the only way to salvage these things, like the hand on this sketch. I tried

The other great benefit of this particular ink is how well behaved it’s been in two unlikely places: the sketchbook with the paper I didn’t like where the Pentel brush pen ink liked to fuzz and feather without any regard for my feelings, AND on the Mead typing paper where I simply assumed, due to the astonishingly light paper weight, that anything heavier than a pencil sigh would be a disaster.

Pentel brush pen up top, below the magic duo on Mead typing paper, left, and toothy Monologue paper, right

I’ve already filled this brush pen back up once, and foresee this becoming the sort of regular in rotation that I never let run dry.

Much to my amazement, JetPens still has the black body and natural body versions of this brush pen in stock. It’s still a very big pen, the cap neither posts nor has anything to keep it from rolling away into oblivion, and I’m sure there are more practical brush pens to use this ink with. But they just don’t look as cool, and that’s the majority of what matters. This is a cool pen that I still haven’t completely destroyed 8 years later, and this ink makes me actually want to use this pen. What more can you ask for?

You can ask for this drawing of my friend as a socially distanced boba tea mermaid. Yes, excellent choice, how did you know to ask for that?


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