I haven’t subscribed to the Blackwing Volumes. There are so many reasons why, but after I let my Field Notes sub lapse I thought a lot about what it means to me to subscribe to something. I forced myself very carefully to examine my want vs need internal meter and each time I am faced with that WANT feeling, I carefully examine it.
For the most part, the Volumes don’t hit home for me. I like Dylan but uh, it’s a little before my time. The 211 was nice and hit all the buttons for me- except for the core. I don’t like the 602. Then we had the 1138 which I just don’t care about. The 24 is really nice but I have to actively divorce the Steinbeck association away from the pencil.* Finally we have the 56, the Dimaggio edition over a 602 core. Meh. Of the 5 editions only 1 really spoke to me.
Part of my disdain of the majority of the BWV is the heavy handed marketing by BW, the corporate atmosphere surrounding the editions, that they won’t release numbers produced** but also, the majority of the stuff memorialized is before my time. I’m not their target demographic- which is apparently older white dudes.
Mellissa in the Erasables group put up an interesting post pointing out that all of the editions have memorialized dead white guys and a music festival. Not one woman. Not one person of color. We could probably explore the myriad of reason for this, but I’ll leave it alone.
There’s been plenty of research in sociology and psychology that people tend to see people like themselves as their heroes. So when it comes to portraying heroes we usually see white dudes as those heroes. So I started to think about if I were to do a tribute pencil what would it look like and who would it be?
The Lois Lane Edition, 1938 She first appeared in the comics in 1938,m sure she was the love interest for Superman, but she was also a “tough broad” who held her own- a difficult thing in the newsroom back in ‘38. It’s be black, because Lois has black hair (most of the time) and a blue eraser, to match her eyes. The core? The extra-firm of the 24.
The Hannah Hoch Edition, Dada No numbers for this one, the Dada movement would insist. Hoch is often overlooked in favor of the male Dadaists, but she was no joke. Some of her art is astounding and stand up to this day. Call her the godmother of creepy teenage collages with oversized eyeballs. The pencil would be paperwhite, with a silver ferrule, and a black eraser because most of her work was done in black and white.
The Sojourner Truth Edition, 1851. She ran to freedom with her infant daughter in 1826 Changed her name in 1843. And gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech in 1851. The pencil would be dark blue for the Union Army’s Uniform, silver ferrule for lead shot, with a red eraser for blood lost.
The Audre Lorde Edition. 1984, For the year she published, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” an amazing read that every person should read. The pencil would be the grey of a well used tool handle, the ferrule rust colored, and the eraser, white to denote it’s the master’s tool.
The Softball Edition, 2012, Softball was removed from the list of olympic sports in 2012. But it’s played all over the world by millions of girls and women. Go figure. The pencil would be red for the stitches on a baseball, it’s have a gold ferrule for the gold medals that’ll never be won, and a brown eraser for the color of the infield. The core would be an MMX, because no one buys those.
The Ellen Edition, 1997. Ellen DeGeneres was the first openly gay woman on TV and had the first character to come out. The importance of this cannot be minimized. For years lesbians had to pretend that other female characters were “like” them and suddenly, there she was on the screen. It’d be a god damn rainbow.
Please be aware there are no accusations leveled here, simply ideas for things I think would hit my demographic just about right.
*Steinbeck had a number of issues other than being a completely boring author- misogynist, allegations of domestic violence, and in general being a womanizer. There are so many reasons not to give Steinbeck a tribute as there are to give him a tribute. He’s one of my least favorite authors, and not just because he’s boring and hell.
**Though if they are donating about $5 per box to charity, those numbers should be made available.