Gavin Aung Than, an Australian graphic designer turned cartoonist, started the weekly Zen Pencils blog in February 2012. He describes his motivation for launching Zen Pencils: "I was working in the boring corporate graphic design industry for eight years before finally quitting at the end of 2011 to pursue my passion for illustration and cartooning. At my old job, when my boss wasn't looking, I would waste time reading Wikipedia pages, mainly biographies about people whose lives were a lot more interesting than mine. Their stories and quotes eventually inspired me to leave my job to focus on what I really wanted to do. The idea of taking these inspiring quotes, combining them with my love of drawing and sharing them with others led to the creation of Zen Pencils."
"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, Washington Post's 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." --Philip Plait, The Bad Astronomer
"Gavin has the amazing ability to make words and ideas come alive. He teaches, inspires, and brings a whole new level of creativity to the quotes that hold a special place in our hearts." --Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW Author of the No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, Daring Greatly
"Zen Pencils is a visual demonstration of joy and courage. Buy it for inspiration, and keep it for regular reminders of living bigger." -- Chris Guillebeau, New York Times Bestselling Author of The $100 Startup
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-12
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (Dec.)