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Zen Pencils: Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks Paperback – November 11, 2014
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"Inspired by motivational posters that match uplifting sayings with dramatic images, Than fuses inspirational quotes with his own comics panels and in the process creates something finer than simply the sum of the two in this debut collection. A combination of quotes from both the classic (Thoreau, Twain, Confucius) and contemporary (Neil Gaiman, Ira Glass, Neil DeGrasse Tyson) are melded with cartoon art whose simplicity initially disguises its energetic dynamism. Than has chosen a range of stimulating and nurturing ideas, but the interconnection with competent and amusing comic strips pulls this above the usual collection of "never say die" anthologies. The book's emphasis is on artistic creativity: how to rise above the complications and setbacks (online trolls, discouraging relatives, mundane life) to find your own happiness and success in creating something. The sometimes literal, sometimes metaphorical adaptations are charming, funny, and pointedly invigorating. Than's website has been an online success and the book will introduce him to an even larger audience. A lively and sparkling collection with a potential long life as a gift suitable for kids and adults, ideal for graduates and career seekers." (Publishers Weekly)
"Zen Pencils deftly blends the inspired thoughts of our great creative and moral thinkers with its own fresh visual wit. Because these work as pithy history lessons illuminating timeless human truths, it's no wonder Gavin's engaging comics go viral." (Michael Cavna, The Washington Post, "Comic Riffs")
"Sometimes all it takes is a clear, original vision and a talented hand. Gavin Aung Than and his genius of Zen Pencils gives us that together, and so much more." (Chris Hadfield, retired astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station)
"If you read this book and don't get a lump in your throat and a stirring in your heart at least once, check your pulse. You're dead." (Roger Plait, The Bad Astronomer)
About the Author
Gavin Aung Than is a freelance cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia. After working in the corporate graphic design industry for eight years he quit his unfulfilling job at the end of 2011 to focus on his true passion, drawing cartoons. Gavin launched Zen Pencils at the start of 2012, a cartoon blog which adapts inspirational quotes into comic stories, and hasn't looked back since.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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However, I wish there were a couple more comics that weren't already online and a few of the comics online in the book. This might be because I'm buying a little later. I'm also not entirely sure about some of the page layout choices. A lot of them are great, but sometimes it feels like there is too much or too little comic on the page. Again though, this is nitpicky things because the comics are amazing it's just the book form I was just slightly disappointed with. I think in the future I might go with a poster or other merch over another book.
I'm so excited for Gavin and the wonderful long road he has ahead of him. I believe we are seeing a Bill Watterson growing and learning right before our eyes. And on the journey we are able to join him, follow along and see all the incredible things he is up to.
To see more about Gavin, including a great speech on how he started ZenPencils and an interview with him in a recent conference, visit travishellstrom.com/gavin.
Thanks for your great work Gav!
This book is best for those unhappy with there current situation or lost in life. Whether in high school, college or working a steady "secure" job or traveling the world in search of oneself; I believe there is a comic in this book that will open your eyes to new possibilities and way of thinking, or illustrate your ideas and beliefs so that others will better understand why you choose the life you do.