I get so many lovely emails from readers telling me how much they appreciate this website that I thought I should share some of the love with all of you. One thing I never expected when I started this thing was the strong community of like-minded people that has developed. So to promote this even further, each month I’m going to highlight one special reader, let them tell you a bit about themselves and what they get out of Zen Pencils. First up, it’s Mr. Jeff Ackerman!

Ok mate, give us a brief bio and explain what you do.

My name is Jeff, I’m 24, and I was born in a small town 30 minutes west of Boston, America. I’ve always had a strong passion for storytelling and my medium of choice is through film/digital cinemas and television. Telling a story that opens your mind and to see and perceive something new is very important to me. When executed effectively, film and television can allow one soul to grow and can resonate a positive understanding of a world we still know so little about. I moved to Los Angeles, California a year and a half ago with these dreams in mind. Since coming out west I’ve had the opportunity to work at two prestigious talent agencies. I currently work for a TV literary agent now. I aid and assist my boss in helping our clients get writing jobs on television programs as well as push for our clients’ original work to have a chance in being picked up for pilot – with the possibility of being aired on a network/cable station. When I’m not working, I like to read client material and pilots not yet on the air. I also enjoy writing my own sketches for a comedy group I’m involved with. As a desk bug during the week, staying physically active is a necessity. Beach volleyball, working out, hiking, seeing new places and meeting new people makes for a good weekend.

Can you explain the positive impact Zen Pencils has had on you?

I first discovered Zen Pencils back in February of this year. A good friend of mind e-mailed me the link to the George Patton comic. We were having a discussion about the concept of destiny. What’s the point of doing “A” and “B” if the end result “C” is inevitable? It got us thinking, and more importantly, it got us talking. There are many aspects of our lives there are beyond our control and it is difficult to accept that as it is within our basic human nature to want to “control the situation.” This Patton quote is paired quite beautifully with your illustration showing a man who has a connection with an attractive waitress yet chooses not see the clues right in front of him until the very last moment. This man was lucky to have all these opportunities – especially the unforgettable moment when she follows him outside to hand him an umbrella. Most of us don’t have two or three chances to achieve a result. I guess what I took from this particular comic was that we can all obtain our intentions and be where we want to be even though the way we “get there” may be much different from how we had envisioned it.

Has the site helped you with any particularly big decisions or goals?

Many of my own personal issues stem from the basic human emotion – fear. I feel like that tends to be the case for a lot of people. It’s hard to do the right thing especially if it makes us feel uncomfortable or isn’t the most popular choice amongst our peers. I admit that fear can be a driving factor for my decision making. Should I say this? Should I behave this way? Will I be accepted for who I am? The quotes published for Zen Pencils all seem to tie together. It’s helped influence me by giving me permission to stop living in my head all the time. We are capable to break ties with our rapid thoughts and the result of that is life.

Do you have any favourite quotes or comics that resonate with you the most?

I’m a fan of Muhammad Ali and really enjoyed seeing some of his quotes reimagined through your comics. The Dalai Lama comic is a great straight forward quote. I took it as a lesson that we should look internally and address the things we need to for the present – not in anticipation for the future. Another quote that comes to mind Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art. This quote conveys a message that no matter what unforeseeable conflict comes our way that we should learn from it and use it our benefit. A guy gets his leg bit off by a massive snake, or a husband catches his wife cheating – these are real issues! I believe that the origin of all great art comes from internal struggle and pain. It is up to the person experiencing these things to be aware of that and to rise above it.

Would you like to be the next READER OF THE MONTH? Have my comics helped you through a difficult time? Or maybe you have a cool Zen Pencils-related story to share. Then send me an email to let me know! – Gav