Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Product Review: Zebra Comic G Nib

4/21/15 India ink, Zebra Comic G dip pen nib,
Bristol board
In Part 10 of my Epic Pen Search and Discovery series, I mentioned briefly the Zebra Comic G nib, which was intended to be a Frankenpen but never got off the ground. I tried it on a Jinhao X450 and then a Nemosine, but neither worked. As is, it clearly doesn’t fit properly onto the feed of a No. 6 nib fountain pen as had been heavily rumored in the blogosphere. With more investigation, it turned out that the people who had gotten their G nibs to work with fountain pens had done substantial modification to the feeds. At that point I lost interest.

Fast-forward to this week. I’m taking an ink drawing class at Gage this quarter, and our primary drawing tool is the dip pen. The class supply list had suggested the ubiquitous Speedball sketching set of nibs and holders, which I already had and used last week. But then I remembered that I had a whole box of unused Zebra Comic G nibs that I had purchased with the sole intention of using them with a fountain pen body – but why not use them on a dip pen as they were designed? (Use something for its intended purpose? What a concept!)

Using India ink and Bristol board, I started a master copy of the angel yesterday. In class today, I finished the angel and also did the class assignment, which was the rollerskate (my first dip pen drawing from life). Those two drawings convinced me that the G nib is unlike any dip pen nib I’ve used – and I love it! I now see why so many sketchers have experimented with making it work with a fountain pen body, and I’m now more motivated than ever to find a way to make it work. (I’m even willing to do some feed hacking if that’s what it takes.)

4/21/15 India ink, Zebra Comic G dip pen nib
Apparently a favorite among manga cartoonists, the Zebra Comic G nib is just a bit flexier than my Pilot Falcon nib but has a much finer tip – probably the equivalent of a Japanese extra-fine nib. (I had tried using the Pilot Falcon for part of my Raphael copy from a couple of weeks ago, but I found it too broad to match the lines of the master.)

When flexed, the G puts out a wide range of line variation. It does railroad quickly if pushed too hard, but I find the chrome nib to have enough spring that the flex is relatively easy to control – easier than the Falcon, in fact. It’s also springier than the nibs of equivalent size in my Speedball set.

Compared to copying masters from photos, sketching the rollerskate from life was much more challenging – and also that much more fun. Imagine using that Zebra Comic G for urban sketching! But for that, it’s got to be on a fountain pen.

You guessed it: I’m on a mission. 

Line samples made with Zebra Comic G nib and
India ink on Bristol board
2/26/15 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink,
Pilot Petit1 pen, Canson XL 140 lb. paper


  1. Looks like it works well in these drawings! I hope you can work it out.

  2. Have a look at Desiderata Pens… that may be just what you are looking for!

    1. Desiderata pens are, in fact, one of the ideas on my list to check out! Will report back. . .

  3. If you want to put these on a fountain pen, this is how. I am no expert, and not even very handy, but this is how I got it to work and I love it.
    Get an Ahab pen. With some sandpaper you flatten out the sides of the feed until the curvature of the nib sits flush against the feed. Gently roll an exacto blade along the side channels of the feed (they flatten out from the sanding), widen/deepen the top feed a bit with the exacto.
    After you have inserted the feed and nib back into the section, heat-set them together by dipping the tip into freshly-boiled water from the kettle for 10 or 15 seconds. Then you're done, and it works brilliantly.
    The Ahab doesn't cost much, replacement feeds are cheap too. The feeds are made a pretty workable material, and based on my experience the modification doesn't need to be super precise, the nib just needs to sit flush to the feed. Try it!

  4. Love your blog! Informative and witty.


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