Monday, Jul 16, 2018 | Last Update : 06:00 PM IST
The creator of Zen Comics shared his tryst with cartooning with us in a candid chat.
Gavin Aung Than, cartoonist and creator of Zen Comics from Melbourne, Australia was in India recently as a special guest at the Comic Con Bengaluru and he was excited to meet the fans.
Gavin’s roots are from Burma although he was born and raised in Perth. His website was one of the best 100 websites of 2013 in a review by an international technology magazine, and he also has two New York Times bestselling comic series — Cartoons from Inspirational Quotes and Dream the impossible dream.
Ever since school, cartoons were a passion for him. 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.
“I have been drawing ever since I was a kid. I have always been obsessed with comics, cartoons and doodling since I was in school and I sort of carried it over till adulthood. The first thing I drew that I can remember was probably my favourite comics, the Ninja Turtles.”
His full-time job as a graphic designer wasn’t as fulfilling as his passion and love for drawing. He says, “I have a background in graphic design, I worked in the industry for many years, and I realised that it was not something that I wanted to do. I always wanted to be a cartoonist. So, I thought of Zen Pencils, quit my graphic design job and focused on cartoons full-time.”
But, taking a plunge and risking not having a full-time job can be quite frightening. Speaking to Gavin about having a full-time job to no job, he adds, “It’s definitely very scary, quite risky in the beginning. But, after a few months, the website started getting a lot of attention, and I started to sell more and more merchandise. Some income started to come in and eventually, I could make a living out of it.”
Unlike other entrepreneurs who take time to spur, Gavin’s comic website went viral in just a few months.
But it was a struggle as well, “The most challenging part of creating Zen Comics was to just take the plunge. That’s quite nerve-racking and scary. But, I’m so thankful everything happened and worked out well, I didn’t have to go back to my old job.”
“Around the time I was working, I was looking for inspiration myself. I kept reading my favourite quotes and that’s how it all happened. I thought I could use my cartooning skills, combine it with the quotes. It kind of fit well. I’ve got a few recurring characters, the readers just love seeing their favourite characters pop-up again in different stories,” says the full-time dad to a one-year-old baby girl. When Gavin gets some free time, he loves taking his two dogs for a walk to unwind.