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Hey folks,

Well I got back from the States on the weekend, and as my body and brain take a few days to ease back into drawing mode I thought I’d let you know how it all went.

PORTLAND
My first stop was the lovely Portland. I was there to attend Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, and ‘gulp’, give a talk on the main stage in front of nearly 3000 attendees.

I’d always wanted to attend WDS since it first started a few years ago, and the weekend didn’t disappoint. Nearly 3000 attendees gathered together from all over the world and all walks of life to connect, attend workshops, hear some incredible speakers and party all night long. The only thing we all had in common was the desire to live a ‘remarkable life in an conventional world’. I thouroughly recommend the conference to anyone who fits that description.

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As for my talk … it went well! At least I think it did anyway. I gave a short presentation about Zen Pencils, how and why I started it and the amazing change that’s happened in my life since the site launched. The talk was recorded so you’ll all be able to see it in the near future. I think my nervousness showed through a little bit, but everyone seemed to enjoy it and I got some great feedback.

Chris and I also arranged a surprise at the end of my talk, giving all the attendees a souvenir poster I illustrated.

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While there, I also had a meet-up for Zen Pencils readers. I had a lovely Q&A session with about 30 fans and gave away some posters. It’s such a thrill when I meet readers face to face – they’re always so friendly and encouraging. I’m usually floating on cloud nine for a few days after a meet-up. To hear how people found this website, what their favourite comics are and how they appreciate what I’m doing really makes all the work I put in to these comics even more satisfying.

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While in Portland I also sampled their extensive selection of craft beers, visited the famous Powell’s bookstore and met up with local cartoonist Josh ‘Pants’ Mecouch, who showed me around his city.

SAN FRANCISCO
Next stop was San Francisco, mainly to visit with family I hadn’t seen in years. I’ve been there a few times before as all of my Dad’s side of the family live in America. I have a small army of uncles, aunties and cousins in California who I hadn’t seen in 10 years so it was lots of fun catching up with everyone.

I also had another meet-up for readers, and after the venue I had arranged cancelled a couple of days before the event, Autodesk employee and Zen Pencils reader Reneé came through in the last minute to save the day, and offered to have the meet-up at Autodesk headquarters. It worked out perfectly and I had another fantastic time meeting readers and signing some posters.

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Some other highlights while in SF were spending a weekend in the stunning Yosemite National Park and driving to Santa Rosa to visit the Charles M. Schulz museum.

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The Charles Schulz museum was particularly inspiring. To be surrounded by original Peanuts artwork and soak in the life’s work of the most famous, successful and respected comic strip artist of all time was humbling and very motivating. Next to the museum, you can visit the cafe that Schulz had breakfast and lunch everyday, and the ice rink and tennis court he loved to unwind at. It’s a magical little area.

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SAN DIEGO
The main event of the trip of course, was heading to San Diego for Comic-Con, the giant weekend of pop culture mayhem and merriment. I’ve been to a couple of Aussie conventions but nothing can really prepare you for the scale of SDCC. It was everything I was expecting and an experience I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. I was mainly there as just another gawking fanboy, but I had the opportunity to do a couple of signings at the Andrews McMeel/GoComics booth, who are the publishers of my upcoming book. Again, it was another chance to meet long-time and new readers and it was great to hear people get excited about the book. Another interesting thing I noticed was the age range of my readers. People all the way from middle-school to middle-age came by, which was a pleasant surprise.

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BELOW: My doodle at the GoComics booth alongside some famous cartoonists, including Berkeley ‘Bloom County’ Breathed and Scott ‘Dilbert’ Adams!

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All in all, it was a fantastic and satisfying trip. Meeting readers always reenergises me and motivates me to continue making comics. It was fun, but honestly, I couldn’t wait to get home so I could get back to work. Thanks for your patience with the lack of updates here, but think of these breaks as little inspiration trips for myself. Having new experiences and meeting new people pours new material and ideas into my head and prevents me, and my work, from getting stale. Now, I’m buzzing with ideas that I can’t wait to get down on paper and share with you.
– Gav

P.S. Thanks to the World Domination Summit team, Nancy, Harrison and Jasmine for providing the pics above.