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Zen Pencils: Cartoon quotes from inspirational folks is a Webcomic by Gavin Aung Than that takes inspirational quotes from famous people and adapts them into cartoons.

Launched in 2012, the artist takes an quote from someone famous (examples: Confucius, Albert Enstein, Rudyard Kipling, Carl Sagan, Marie Curie...) and creates a short cartoon (or comic) out of it. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, sometimes sad, always inspirational.

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While the majority of the cartoons are unrelated, there are some "story arcs" who have one main character. These characters are:

  • The Shaolin monk: The mascot of the comic, a Shaolin monk who walks the Earth, fighting evil and doing good.
  • The dragonslayer: The adventures of a Dragon Slayer, who's also a Kid Hero.
  • The lovers: The ups and downs of a couple.
  • Rising Phoenix: The story of an wrestler Action Girl.
  • The stand-up comic: A young girl trying her luck at Stand-Up Comedy.
  • The inventor: A Child Prodigy / Gadgeteer Genius and his inventions.
  • The running man: The story of a man fighting his depression and his flaws through running.
  • Poetic Justice saga: The story of a bullying victim, his revenge, and the fallout of it.

Well-known and popular, this webcomic is often mentioned in newspapers and beloved by the people being quoted.

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Zen Pencils provides examples of:

  • Art Shift: Some cartoons are just one big image. Others are full-blown comics.
  • Badass Teacher: Taylor Mali, 124th cartoon.
    You see, I have this policy about honesty and ass-kicking: if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
  • "Billy Elliot" Plot: The 162nd cartoon. Subverted: When he discovers the truth, the father is completely supportive.
  • Executive Meddling: The 156th cartoon, where the Lovers, who left each other in the previous one, are reunited, is because Gavin's wife hated the break up.
    I did it so my wife would stop giving me the stink eye.
  • Forgiveness: The end of the 140th cartoon.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The 97th cartoon, Air and Light and Time and Space by Charles Bukowski, has been removed at the demand of Bukowksi's publisher. A good Google search (or just looking at the comments on the page of the cartoon), is enough to find it.
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  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The 124th cartoon, What teachers make by Taylor Mali. A Jerkass spends an entire evening mocking and insulting teachers, saying they're good for nothing, even though one of his guests, Taylor himself, IS a teacher. Eventually he asks "Be honest. What do you make?". Taylor snaps and gives a huge rant, ending on this gem:
    (I make them understand that) If someone EVER tries to judge you by what you make, you give them THIS! [...] Teachers make a goddamn difference. Now what about you?
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: "DON'T READ BOOKS WHILE LYING DOWN IN BED."- Akira Kurosawa.

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