Friday, 15 June 2012

Dear Berol, about those markers....

Dear Berol,

You make the single best flipchart marker in the world, and I should know, I use it all the time. The Berol Colour Marker in Black beats every other pen I have ever used. It is water-based so is perfect to use in schools (with pupils who will get it all over them and be able to wash it off, unlike spirit-based markers) and it doesn't soak through the flipchart pages (again unlike spirit-based markers).

But I seem to be unable to buy them from you. Why?

Let me explain who I am. My name is Kev F Sutherland - hi - I write and draw for comics such as The Beano, Marvel comics and Doctor Who Adventures (see my work at and, most relevantly, I go around schools teaching my respected and renowned Comic Art Masterclasses. (See me in action here, including a clip of me using Berol Colour Marker Black pens on BBC 1's The One Show  with Gyles Brandreth).

Your pens are an invaluable part of my class, and my constant quest to improve the visual and literacy skills of school pupils in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (and even Abu Dhabi would you believe) through my Comic Art Masterclasses. Their water-based black ink and their chisel tip makes them the most impressive and expressive tool one can use on a flipchart. You can see above some of the many flipchart pages I have left behind at schools, all produced using your pens.

But now I am told I can no longer buy these pens in boxes of 12, despite the fact that YOU STILL MAKE THEM! Yes, you may not realise this, but your factories make these pens and then refuse to sell them. The only way I can buy a Black Berol Marker is buy also buying a box containing 11 other colours that I don't need. This is crazy. If I want to buy an HB pencil, I'm not also obliged to buy every other thickness. If I want to buy a printer cartridge for my machine, I'm not also obliged to buy cartridges for 11 other machines that I can't actually use. If I want to buy a tin of beans, nobody forces me to buy 11 other assorted tinned vegetables for whatever bizarre reason they might think that a good idea. But if I want to buy a Berol Colour Marker in Black, I also have to buy a blue, which might, I concede, be useful; a red, which I'm sure I could find some use for if pushed; then a pale blue which no-one can see from across the room and trust me I've tried, then a yellow - a bloody yellow! Who the hell wants a yellow??? Ditto orange and all the other joke colours you've thrown in.

I want a black, and as it happens I want quite a lot of them. So where can I get them? You make them. They're sitting in your warehouse. So just after they roll off the conveyor belt but just before someone bundles them into the box with all the other unnecessary colours I don't need, is there any conceivable way someone could pack some into boxes of 12 and sell them, preferably to me?

Surely I can't be the only person to make this request. I hope it reaches you safely and please help me give you money in exchange for the excellent things you manufacture if you possibly can.

Yours, having to rely on Staples pens (and surely you don't want THAT???)

Kev F Sutherland

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