My Favourite Zen Pencils comics

This will be a long post but not because I have so much to write.

It’s because I’ve attached my favourite comics, each of which are fairly long on their own.

Zen Pencils is a website featuring comics with inspirational quotes from famous people. It’s by a homegrown Aussie talent Gavin, who comes from Perth and enjoyed doing design work.

After a while he started making these comics on his own website which went completely viral, allowing him to publish 2 books and basically continue doing awesome work.

I have his first book (signed copy, yay!) and love checking out new work. Here’s my favourites, they’re long comics but well worth the read honestly.


Malala Yousafzai – I have the right.


Malala is a Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban for being seen as “the symbol of the infidels and obscenity”. She survived the attack and received treatments in hospitals.

In 2014, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. At 17, she is the youngest recipient so far.

I liked how this comic portrayed the visuals of the events that occured, and I felt it really captured Malala’s narrative and story within a limited number of panels.

See here for original.


Maya Angelou – Phenomenal Woman


I liked how this comic captured Maya Angelou’s spirit (Records say she was someone outgoing and sassy). I liked how her spirit never wavered despite what others may say or think, that she kept on doing what she wanted.

Also especially liked how the last few panels showcased women of different backgrounds, careers and lifestyles portraying confidence in what they did.

See here for original.


James Rhodes – Is that not worth exploring?



I think what struck me the most was the “360 minutes to do whatever you want”.

We constantly complain that we don’t get enough time in a day. Every day. But then everyone in the world gets the same amount of time.

The Beyonces and the Emma Watsons and the Bill Gates and the Tom Cruises have exactly the same amount of time as you do.

The difference is what we do with that time.

What are you doing with yours?

See here for original.


Neil Gaiman – Make good art.


What I took away from this was to turn something bad into something good. Turn a bad event into something that benefits you. There will always be obstacles standing in your way to happiness, but if you’re able to harness that power, you’ll be able to find a way to reach that happiness.

See here for original.


Frida Kahlo – Strange like me.


I thought this was striking (and funny) because of the underlying ideas of this story.

How we are comforted when we know we’re not the only ‘strange’ ones or ‘weird’ ones. When we’re comforted by the notion that we’re not alone in something, whether it’s a physical characteristic or a mental or emotional feeling.

See here for original.


The Dalai Lama – We are all human beings.


When I first read this comic (which was republished in the first Zen Pencils comic book), I immediately thought of Samurai Jack.

But what I liked about this was the idea of the statue trying to tear someone down because he was ‘different’, perhaps because he was afraid of this newness and wanted to protect what he is comfortable with. And at the end, the statue realizes that they can exist peacefully together.

A message that’s pretty current right now, with the refugee situation, etc.

See here for original.


Lao Tzu – Journey of a thousand miles.


And of course, the final simple but clear message of how a journey begins with the first step. This reminds me of something I read before: taking 1 step in reality is better than taking 100 steps in your dreams. We all can constantly dream of the perfect dream but unless we start executing it in real life, we’ll never make it to where we want to be.

See here for original.


Nelson Mandela – Invictus (by William Ernest Henley)


Was only going to have 7, but this is my favourite comic so I have to include this too.

I like this tribute to Nelson Mandela, and the details like the photo of his son and how you feel like you’re going through the narrative yourself. It’s work like these that show that comics aren’t just for comedic newspaper strips, but something to weave a story, funny, happy, sad, upsetting or touching.

And that I think, is the power that draws people to these comics and enjoy them.

See here for original.


What do you think? Which one is your favourite?

Much Love,

Fari Wu