After much searching and experimentation, I've found a good working combination, using compressed charcoal on Strathmore #400 18 x 24 inch paper plus a really hard eraser. I've been forcing myself to get the whole figure down in one minute before refining. This drawing is 25 minutes, the longest I can handle without getting bogged down in endless detail. I continually catch myself fooling around with a shoulder or something before I've even put in all the parts. The charcoal I've been using is made by Pitt and is very black and a little greasy. It's great, but it is hard to remove. It looks like I originally had the head in the wrong place and when that happens I wipe it out with a chamois and start again, which leaves a nice background tint. The sticks are round and sharpen nicely by using the side to put quick background tones down.