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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

January 7, 2011 at 4:40 PM

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A giant in pen and ink cartooning


Sketched Jan 5, 2011, 11:30 a.m.

Don't expect Jim Woodring to start drawing on an iPad any time soon. The renowned Seattle cartoonist, whose hand-drawn, painstakingly inked comics are read by cult followers around the world, is taking old-fashioned pen-and-ink to new heights. Literally.

Over the past year, Woodring has worked with local engravers, jewelers and woodworkers to create a one-of-a-kind 7-foot-tall steel dip pen. He was told once at a London pen shop that a nib larger than 4 inches would not work and took that as a challenge.

The 5-pound pen has a brass-plated 16-inch nib and it has to be held horizontally at the hip to draw. "After drawing with it for 15 minutes I got a backache," quipped the artist over a cup of coffee at the U-District's Cafe Racer as I used my own puny fountain pen to sketch him.

On Sunday, Woodring will demonstrate the pen publicly for the first time at the Gage Academy of Art, dipping it in a 1-gallon ink pot and drawing giant cartoons on 6-by-4-foot drawing boards.

The three-hour free event starts at 1 p.m. Ink pots and pens --the regular size kind-- will be available for the public to draw and Friends of the Nib, a local group of pen-and-ink enthusiasts, will provide instruction.


Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad in 2011? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I'd love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to or via Facebook or Twitter.

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