Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Cool Art Pencils"

NERDS art by Drew Friedman
In 1992, Pentech Pencils hired a group of artists to create some "trendy/cool" Pencils for a new series called "Cool Art Pencils".  The one and only Lou Brooks coordinated the project, inviting myself and many of his illustrator friends to create the package design and the art for the pencils themselves. Lou also drew 3 of the pencil packs. Humor writers David Burd and Marty Pekar wrote all the fun, funny copy for the package fronts and "blister cards" which came attached to the back of each pack. I believe there were 18 total and they're pretty hard to track down these days. Well, maybe not so hard on eBay.

I've included some of my favorites here.

NUTZ! art by Lou Brooks

GRUNGE art by Peter Bagge
MAD DOG art by Gary Baseman
STAGE DIVE art by Gary Panter
FREAKS art by Mitch O'Connell
ZOMBOT art by Steve Wacksman
GROUCHY art by Elwood Smith
Tattoo art by Mike Quon
GET A HEAD! art by Jim Heimann

My NERDS pencils
The 3 pencil packs created by series coordinator Lou Brooks


  1. Hey, Drew, thanks for posting all of these! There may be a few more artists, but I'll have to tear through some boxes that are.... well, er... SOMEwhere. Interesting also are some of my artist suggestions I recall they turned down. Carol Lay, John Craig, Kim Deitch, and Art Spiegelman come to mind. I also came up with my own line of Pencil-Neck Geeks which went nowhere. But, all in all, a grand time.

  2. Lou, I really enjoyed working on this project with you away back when. I wish we could have done dozens more...

  3. One of my favorite writing projects of all time. I had complete freedom. All I got was the art and my assignment was to fill the package back with words. No rules, just a deadline.

  4. Oh hey there fellas. Steve Wacksman here. Thanks for posting these, Drew- good fun to see them all together. I wish I still had mine, but life in a storage-starved rabbit hutch forced me to jettison anything that wasn't essential. For a long time I lived with nothing more than my jammies, hookah and defibrillator.
    Anyhow, this gig was one of the most fun I've ever had and serves as a sort of benchmark for my early career. Seeing which artists were chosen for the series is profoundly humbling; it amazes me even to this day that my name's on that list.

  5. Holy Lead Poisoning, Fried Man!! I never knew about any of these except the Mitch O'Connell ones, which a friend gave to me several years ago, which I have on my Flickr page:

    I've been trying to find out more about them for some time, so THANKS!!! I haven't been able to find any more on ebay, though I've searched periodically for a while now. I was hoping there were other related products in the line, like maybe some pens or stationary, but I guess not, huh?