The wonderful Flair felt tip pen

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I’ve never used one of these, but I have always been curious since I saw how ensorceled Stephen King was.

(In The Dead Zone, when Johnny Smith wakes from his coma, the first thing that makes him realize he’s in The Future is seeing the doctor using a Flair).

The colors look good so perhaps I’ll get a set for my dense page-filling biblical scribblings


I think of this story now, wondering if the pandemic is to the current administration as Johnny (in would-be sniper mode) was to Stillson. If so, we see who 45 is willing to sacrifice to keep his job (and his money).

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It’s years since I’ve used one of these, but they were always known as Papermate Tempo when I did (in UK).

Is that a regional marketing thing? Were they always known as Flair in USA?

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Flair TV ad from way back when

(now get off my lawn!)


Used these all the time in high school and college, late 60’s - early 70’s; so many different colors. What eventually stopped me was that the ink wasn’t waterproof, and as a chem major my notebooks tended to get wet. I still have a bunch of them somewhere in my attic.

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In the US they were introduced by the company as the “Flair” in the late 60s, they then changed the name at some point to “Tempo” (and apparently now back to “Flair”, though I think for a while it was also the “Nylon”, which is a terrible name). I don’t know the history in the UK.

I’ve always hated the things myself, though the ball point pens that we had in the 1960s always seemed to be leaking, so they were bad too.


keep your gel pens, ball rollers and what have you. flair pens were the original and still the best.


In the 60s they went hand in hand with Peter Max coloring posters.


In the 60s-70s, when I was first calling myself an artist, there was definitely a meme going around. It alleged that artists who used them for hours every day in an enclosed space (see: artist’s attic) developed brain damage.


Oh, I loved these things. In junior high, I drew everything with them. When they started making them with refills, I figured out that I could refill the refills and use them until the point was more of a region.

They’re especially great if you’re going to reproduce your artwork right away and throw out the original, which will fade and discolor over time and (as noted above) totally disfigure itself for a drop of water. I went through a bunch of different pens trying to find one that was unfading and colorfast, and ended up with my high school sweetheart, the technical fountain pen.

I just wish I could still get a couple of Rapidographs that look like lovely, fat fountain pens you’d see in the pocket of some banker. Those were the best.


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