Book Talk: Zen Pencils comic transcends Internet into book deal

Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:11pm EST
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By Brian Leonal

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pirates and imitators on the Internet are the bane of many aspiring artists. For Gavin Aung Than, creator of the popular Zen Pencils comic, the Web was where he started doing what he loves.

After eight "miserable" years as a graphic artist at an Australian newspaper, he finally decided to go online with his creative depictions of poems such as William Ernest Henley's "Invictus" and Bruce Lee's famous quote "Be like water".

Fans call his work inspirational and encouraging. One man with bipolar disorder came to an event in Singapore to thank Than for giving him the courage to live with an interpretation of the Richard Dawkins quote "We are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones". (

Now, the 31-year-old Australian artist is branching out from the Internet with a book due in November from Andrews McMeel Publishing. With an initial print run of 25,000 copies, it will feature a collection of his best comics.

Than spoke to Reuters about the challenges of being a web-based artist and how to make a living at it.

Q: It must have been a difficult decision to finally go full time at Zen Pencils.

A: What finally made me snap, I guess, was my 30th birthday was approaching and that made me take stock and re-evaluate where my career was going.

Q: What made you hesitate before going full time?   Continued...