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As you’ve probably noticed from the lack of new comics lately, I’ve been on away on holidays for a few weeks in Singapore and Myanmar. While it was mainly a leisure trip, I wanted to use the opportunity to hold a couple of get-togethers where I could meet some Zen Pencils readers. I spend all my time drawing in my home office, so it’s nice to get out in the world and meet new people, especially people who support the site. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – Would anyone show up? What would I do during the event? Would there be a language barrier in Myanmar? Despite the gremlin whispering in my ear, I’m happy to announce that both events were fantastic and I was overwhelmed with the support and well wishes from fans.

The Singapore event was held at Wheeler’s Yard, a cool new bike shop, cafe and function space. I was a bit nervous because at 7pm, when the event was supposed to begin, not many people had arrived, but thankfully a crowd appeared, and the night was a huge success. These events not only allow me to meet and thank my fantastic readers, but it also gives me the chance to practice my public speaking skills, which is something I’m trying to get better at. After a brief talk and Q & A session, there was a couple of hours of general mingling and the signing of some free goodies I had brought along.

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I met a school teacher who uses Zen Pencils comics in the classroom who said her students really respond to learning and history through the comics. I met a few people who had left their jobs and mentioned that my comics helped them take the plunge. I even met a girl who holds get togethers with her friends to discuss the latest Zen Pencils comic! Not to mention an iPhone game developer, filmmaker, photographer, magician, some aspiring cartoonists and many students. Sorry I don’t remember your names, I’m so bad with names!

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It was a great night and the event ran over an hour late because so many people were patiently waiting to get some free prints signed.

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A couple of days later I had arrived in Yangon, the biggest city in Myanmar, and was holding another meet-up. The event was held in an awesome new art gallery/cafe right in the centre of the city called Pansodan Scene, which was covered in beautiful artwork from local painters. A small and friendly crowd of locals and ex-pats came to say hi and it was a thrill to meet some local Burmese Zen Pencils readers. It still amazes me that there are folks in Yangon who follow the site. Even a well-known Burmese cartoonist was there and we managed to talk shop (with the help of a translator). It was another great meeting and as in most cases, after the event I was glad I went through with organising the meet-ups despite my initial hesitation.

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Overall, both events really energised me for 2014 and I’m so grateful to everyone who attended. I look forward to holding more of these events hopefully in a city near you in the future. What’s more important right now though is making some new comics!

Both events couldn’t have happened without the help of a couple of Zen Pencils readers – Winfred in Singapore who helped me find a location, and Ewan in Myanmar, who kindly allowed me to use Pansodan Scene. Also, thanks to reader Chin who took the photos in Singapore and my Uncle Dominic for providing the Myanmar pictures.

I had a really special time in Myanmar (I’ve been to Singapore many times but it was the first time visiting the country my parents are from) and I will share some photos and how it’s inspired the comic I’m working on right now in another post soon.

- Gav