So this is a bit different. I’ve been dabbling writing my own comics for the past few years, starting way back in January 2015 with The Calling. It’s something I’ve done occassionaly (see The Monster Named Fear and My Spirit is A Roaring Sea), but it was adapting David Bowie’s quote Go A Little Further that really lit a fire under my ass to do more. I still enjoy adapting quotes but after doing over 200 of them it’s become … comfortable. This year I challenged myself to write an original graphic novel using my favourite Zen Pencils character, the Little Warrior girl from Desiderata and My Spirit is a Roaring Sea. Well, it’s a been a busy start to the year, with a new book collection out in January and organising a move back home from Melbourne to Perth, but I’ve finally got around to starting it, and here it is … the first chapter!

Who is this new guy and what happened to the Monk?
Ok, so think of the Desiderata adaptation as being the prologue to this story. Now I know what you’re thinking: Who the hell is this fat, mustachioed man and what happened to the Zen Kung-Fu Monk?? Right, well I made a executive decision and changed the character. You see the thing is – the monk makes a great logo, but he’s not a very well-designed character. When I initially designed him nearly 7 years ago I never intended him to be starring in a full-length graphic novel. His design is generic and and not very visually interesting for me to draw. Since I’m going to be drawing this guy over and over again for months, perhaps years (I don’t know how long this story will take to complete) I have to ENJOY drawing him. Someone I absolutely loved drawing was the father from my Ballet Boy comics (see Us Against the World) so I designed Uncle Bolo based on him. His look also makes a lot more sense for the story I have in mind: someone big, old and hairy! So that’s the explanation. I’m sorry to those who have grown to love the Zen Monk. Hopefully you grow to love this new character too.

Now I need your help!

Little Warrior is a story I’ve had in mind for a long time. It’s going to combine everything I love: Kung-Fu, Action, Pixar and Miyazaki films, comic books, history and philosophy. However the story is massive, at least over 200 pages (this first chapter is 11 pages) and will take me at least a year to complete. I’ll post chapters as fast as I can, but it will depend on how much support I receive on Patreon. I’ve mentioned Patreon before – it’s a great way for creatives to get financial support directly from their fans – and a huge thank you to those of you already pledging money. The more Patrons I get (the first goal is to reach 1000) the faster I can post new chapters. If I reach beyond 1000 then my goal is to hire someone to colour the pages, meaning even faster updates. I’m hoping for Little Warrior to become a fully fan-funded online graphic novel. VISIT MY PATREON PAGE

Is this the end of Zen Pencils?
No. I’ll still be adapting quotes from time to time. Maybe in-between Little Warrior chapters or less frequently, I’m not sure yet. Honestly, I haven’t come across any mind-bending quotes in awhile as I feel a lot of those I get sent cover the same messages that I’ve already adapted. Please do keep sending me your favourite quotes and if I feel compelled to adapt it, I will.

I’ve been pretty scared about starting this. Part of the hesitancy was being overwhelmed by the length of the story and the amount of work required. Also, some of it has been financially daunting – How am I going to fund it? Will my readers be turned off by this? Should I just stick to “Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks”? All of these questions have been holding me back. It’s fear. So I just forced myself to start the damn thing. By posting this first chapter, I’m holding myself accountable. Now I have to keep going and finish it or I’m going to look like an idiot. I’m not sure if it will work out … but I have to try and “go a little further”. I really think everything I’ve learned from making Zen Pencils comics for the past 6 six years has been preparing me for this and I hope you come along for the ride.

Thanks for your support
– Gav