“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’s Comic Riffs


“As monks and scribes have known for thousands of years, some ideas are worth illustrating. Zen Pencils takes the simple written thoughts of a wide variety of people and brings them to delightful life. The elegantly artful characters make the concepts somehow both clearer and more memorable. Zen Pencils is a treat of a book to spend time with.”

– 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.”

– Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW Author of the #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



I’m proud to announce that the first Zen Pencils book is now available! Collecting over 35 of my best comics from the first two years of the archives, this book is the culmination of a life-long dream to draw cartoons for a living and the years of hard work, sacrifice, terror and joy that has gone into this website. It’s a celebration of the Zen Pencils community that have supported me every step of the way and helped make this book possible. Published by Andrews McMeel (Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, The Far Side, Pearls Before Swine, The Oatmeal) and featuring over 170 full-color pages plus an exclusive pull-out poster, this book is a must for any Zen Pencils fan.


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Always Be Prepared – Shaolin Monk
Find a Job You Love – Confucius
The Man in the Arena – Theodore Roosevelt
No Regrets – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
In Spite of Everything – Vincent Van Gogh
A Question to the Buddhist
There Are No Limits – Bruce Lee
Never Give Up – Calvin Coolidge
The Most Astounding Fact – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman
Welcome to Science – Phil Plait
Who’s the Crazier Man? – Henry Rollins
Our Deepest Fear – Marianne Williamson
On Kindness – Roger Ebert
Make Gifts for People – John Green
Nature Loves Courage – Terence McKenna
Ask Yourself – Howard Thurman
Ultimate Self-Help Book – Stephen Fry
Advice for Beginners – Ira Glass
11 Ways to Be Average – Chris Guillebeau
Around the Corner – Charles Hanson Towne
The Two Wolves
What If Money Was No Object? – Alan Watts
What Teachers Make – Taylor Mali
You Aren’t Like Them – Timothy Leary
To Love at All – C.S. Lewis
An Astronaut’s Advice – Chris Hadfield
Life Is Not Easy – Marie Curie
The Fire Within – Sophie Scholl
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – Jiddu Krishnamurti
The Woman in the Arena – Brené Brown
I Would Rather Be Ashes than Dust – Jack London
Ithaka – Constantine P. Cavafy
Invictus – A Tribute to Nelson Mandela
Graduation Speech – Erica Goldson
On Happiness – Henry David Thoreau