I Broke My Pencil.

If you're a webcartoonist, then you probably own a digital pen and tablet. Mine is a Wacom Graphire 3, which is probably the base model and lacks some of the sophistication that the other versions have. But it gets the job done. I've come to rely on digital tools, and that digital dependency really shows this week, because my Wacom pen is broken. I've owned my tablet for about 4 years, and I use it all the time. Every day. It has practically become a natural extension of my hand, and I don't think much about it. Left hand: Wacom tablet, right hand: mouse. That's how I accomplish every computer-related creative task that I face.

While I wait for the replacement pen to be shipped to me this week, I've had to put several projects on hold. There are about 12 pages of comic art that can't be flatted now. And 2 comic commissions that were halfway colored must now rest on the back burner. Most of the graphic design work I can muddle through with my mouse and keyboard, but even so, this slows the process. I'm frustrated when technical problems interrupts my workflow. It makes me hate computers and curse the day they ever entered into my life.

On the other hand, I'm able to fall back on the traditional methods more than usual, and this is a refreshing change. I'll spend more time at the drawing board this week, instead of staring at the computer screen. The broken Wacom pen, with all it's underlying microchips and sensitive electronic components, still can't compete with the plain old No.2 pencil when it comes to reliability. You know, the yellow kind with the pink eraser. Simple, reliable. I can drop it on hard surfaces all damn day and it's still going to work. I could give it to my dog to chew on, until that worthless pink eraser is gone and its surface is pitted like the hull of a cold-war era satellite. It really doesn't matter what happens to that pencil, because it's a tried and true 'technology' that is thousands of years old. The glitches have been worked out, you see.

Whenever computer software or digital tools are defective or break, it reminds me of how young all of this digital graphics stuff really is, compared to the tools it has already replaced.

Computers. I hate them. I love them. And I can't wait to get that shiny new Wacom pen in the mail.

Scott Reed



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