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Wednesday: Any bound journal which holds that flat on a scanner impresses the hell out of me.

[From a Moruskine installment about gender in Tokyo.](From Moruskine. Click for remarkable consistency of beauty ideals between gender role presentations.)

The tone of "hey, look at this!" submissions in Neil Gaiman's journal can frustrate the hell out of me now and again. While I recognize what kind of bottleneck would result from doing more than simply extracting the shiniest fragments, never mind how much of a distraction it would be from getting the core writing done, that doesn't make it much easier to read. I find myself overlooking four shiny links in five because all that effusion makes me too uncomfortable to keep track.

Dirk Schwieger's straightforward note reminds me why I try to read the bolded content. He's got an engaging concept going on with Moruskine. He's new to Tokyo. Ask him something about life there, and he'll write a comic about it. It doesn't have to be about something he wants to do, or see, or experience; it just has to be accessible to him.

I'm fascinated by the little details. Expatriate life, at the outset, has you tracking the smaller discrepancies between the familiar and the alien. It's not really the same thing as tourism; your experiences are part of an acclimation process, and your observations will be somewhat different as a result. Schwieger communicates the differences, and the natural range of accompanying amazements, without exaggerating his reactions or pointing fingers. After so many diary comics about this life which amount to "these Romans are crazy! Wow, I got so drunk," Moruskine's refreshing as hell.

The framing device is pretty cool, too. Everyone here with a blank book fetish probably knows from the Moleskine. (For the record? Eric and I? Totally drinking the Moleskine Flavor-Aid.) It's one thing to make it clear from the title of your comic alone that you're drawing in your large blank journal or cahier; it's yet another to use the fabric bookmark and rounded page corners as design elements. He's getting remarkably polished work done, to boot -- I'm curious as to how much cleanup happens between scan and post. (Given Gaiman's own Moleskine fetish, it's now no shock that this pointer came up.)

Thus? Digging. Moruskine is a win.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at February 26, 2006 1:40 AM

Comments

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 7:12 PM

Oh, man, do I concur.

For one thing, this really is a journal comic. I mean, there's his freaking journal, right there!

For the record? The reporter-style Moleskine rocks.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 7:25 PM

It does? Dude.

(I'm still too scared to screw mine up by putting anything in it, lest it have to be destroyed. ^^;;)

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 7:29 PM

I know this really isn't the point, but geez, I can't figure out where little Billy ended up at ALL. Seriously, is there a discernible path there?

Comment from: lucastds [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 9:08 PM

Who knows if it's actually a journal?

Maybe it just looks like one.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 9:49 PM

It..looks like he's using the journal's shape as a clipping mask. I can't be sure unless I open an image program, which I won't because my laptop will explode.

If he's not, and that actually is a straight scan of the journal, I am buying one. I have a thing for journals and quality mechanical pencils.

Comment from: storiteller [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 10:04 PM

I think the point was that there was no beginning and barely an end. But I was sitting there trying to figure that out for myself for a good long while before I gave up. Sexual politics in Japan are truly impossible to untangle, so the structure worked because it was confusing, oddly enough.

And it's a really cool idea for a comics project.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 10:08 PM

The bookmark lays slightly differently from one panel to the next, so far as I can tell.

Comment from: PO8 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 12:14 AM

Not that it matters hugely, but Schwieger is spelling his title MORESUKINE, which I believe is a pretty straightforward Romaji rendering of "Moleskine". (In Kunrei-shiki, the Kana looks something like もれすきね if I did the transliteration right.)

By any name it's awesome work. Thanks much for the pointer to it!

Comment from: Ford Dent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 1:12 AM

I totally am riding the Moleskine wave with the one I have in my pocket right now. I even put stuff in it.

Not a whole lot of stuff yet, but damn does it keep stuff in it well.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 10:05 AM

After reviewing the links above, I have come to the conclusion that I am just not getting this "moleskine" thing. Perhaps I am totally out of the loop or merely tragically unhip (both of which, I might add, I consider to be distinct possibilities) but I'm not seeing the root of the passion engendered here, unless they soak the pages in transdermal heroin or something. Admittedly, I have never been in the presence of one. So, asked in the spirit of utmost respect, can someone who groks this business explain to me the appeal?

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 4:56 PM

Channing--

A) The notebooks are made of very high quality paper, bound solidly within a notebook that honestly is pocket sized.

B) The notebooks can be opened to lie flat, facilitating reading and writing.

C) The covers of the notebook resist water nicely.

D) There is an elastic band that wraps around the notebook, keeping it closed when you're not using it.

E) I have yet to find an ink that bleeds when writing in it -- it's astoundingly good at taking ink.

F) It has the minor pretentious quality of several excellent writers swearing by them. (Hey, Neil Gaiman loves the things. That adds six points of cachet right there).

G) Despite the fact that they're nice notebooks, they absolutely radiate the sense that they are meant to be dirtied with writing. These are not designed to be looked at and oo'ed and ah'ed at, only being used with fountain pens whilst sipping expensive coffee drinks. These are designed to be opened when you're lying in a gutter, letting you scrawl "don't go back to the Blue Moon without twenty six dollars for your bar tab, or a gigantic man named Leon is going to wear your intestines as a hat." And yet, the next day you don't feel silly penning a quick haiku on the same page.

H) They come in quadrille, for scientists and old school AD&D DMs, ruled for people like me, sketchbook (with heavier pages) for people like Weds and this guy, pocketed, and music staffs.

I) In the end, there is something staggeringly cool about something that is designed to do something well, which then actually does do that something well.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 5:01 PM

Oh. And there are storyboard versions, too.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 5:01 PM

There's also a couple of models meant for storyboarding; they're practically built for scripting comics. (I've only been able to find the small version of these; I could probably be bribed to horrible ends with a large one.)

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 5:05 PM

Jinx.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 9:53 PM

Hm. Interesting. I know that my own feelings about special bound journals echo Wednesday's above; I mean, what could I write that would possibly warrant messing up this perfect shiny new journal? But if, instead, my own feelings were to echo yours... yeah, I guess I can see the appeal. Might have to see if I can dig one up around here so that I can fall prey to the

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 9:59 PM

...ahem. Sorry. As I was saying, I might have to see if I can dig one up around here so that I can fall prey to the sickness as well. See what all the fuss is about. Have my conscious mind unwittingly altered by the subliminal messages written into the watermark. That sort of thing.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 28, 2006 2:15 PM

It comes in quadrille? Oh, now I'm intrigued. See, I use a quadrille notebook for taking notes and such now, and it's great for doodling Darla-style. Trouble is, it's too big to tote around everywhere. As a general rule, anything too big for a pocket gets left in the car; I hate having a purse weighing me down all the time.

hmmm. Now I have to go look for one. Something about doodling languid curls mixed in with symmetrical shapes does it for me. I know, I'm weird, but hey. /shrug

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 28, 2006 2:37 PM

Borders and Barnes&Noble both carry Moleskines in the US, so it's simply a matter of hitting any given Zone of Big Boxes.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 28, 2006 4:08 PM

But it's not made out of moles, right? (I know, dumb question, but I had to ask.)

Comment from: gwalla [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 1:05 AM

PO8: Actually, it would be the same in Hepburn too. However, you probably wouldn't write it in hiragana, since it's a borrowing from another language. You'd use katakana instead: モレスキネ

Comment from: Matt Sweeney [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 10:24 PM

Oh god, more members of the Moleskin cult! Seriously, people think the Mac folks are weird, but the Moleskin folks take the freaking cake. If you don't believe me check out the 43Folder group over at Google groups. Or google 'moleskin hacks' and flip through the 100,000+ hits.

I admit that I've had a couple. They are nice journals, but way to expensive for me. I ended up picking up a grid version of the Composite notebooks instead and couldn't be happier.

Comment from: Matt Sweeney [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 10:35 PM

E) I have yet to find an ink that bleeds when writing in it -- it's astoundingly good at taking ink.

I've heard a few complaints to the contrary.

From this thread for one:

> But the paper quality could be higher-I can clearly see > the writing on the other side, no matter what pen I use.

The paper has a nice "feel" to it, and the color is nice (it's an off-white/cream, so you don't get the glare issues you do with bright white paper), but I have noticed a bit of a bleed problem when using thicker point pens (0.7mm is sometimes okay; 1.0mm is a problem). Gels seem to be more of a problem than ballpoints.

Of course, some of these folks tend to be a bit, shall I say, anal.

BTW, there's another thread in that list discussing the best pens to use with your moleskin, so that may be of help.

God I love the 43Folders list. :)

BTW, the list is attached to the 43 Folders site, which is a fun productivity site, esspecially for Mac users.

Comment from: enchiridion [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 6:31 PM

Yes, the new reporter style rocks. I'm making the transition now from the old 3.5x5.5 to the new one (same size, still using the squared pages, just the new binding.)

since no one has posted links, I might as well:
http://www.moleskineus.com/

I you will forgive a couple more gratuitous links, then I'll also point you to bookdarts
http://www.bookdarts.com/testimonials.asp

and the Fisher Stowaway pen, which doesn't seem to be on Fisher's site, so pick your own retailer:http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=fisher+pen+stowaway&btnG=Search

The stowaway seems custom made for the new reporter style; it takes a few days to train the notebook, but there is just enough room in the binding to accomdate one.

Comment from: PO8 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 9, 2006 4:51 AM

gwalla: Thanks much! I'm certainly not literate in this stuff, although most of my friends are. :-)

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