Proximity to the crowd, to the majority view, spells the death of creativity. For a soul can create only when alone, and some are chosen for the flowering that takes place in the dark avenues of the night.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


This is the sequel to my Strange Like Me
comic from over three years ago. The lil’ brow girl (that’s what I call
her) is one of my most popular characters and I don’t know why it took
me so long to feature her again. I’m not great with capitalising on a
good thing!

I also have a little public service announcement: February marked the 6th birthday of Zen Pencils.
It’s crazy to think I’ve been lucky enough to draw whatever I want and
create stories that illustrate profound words for so long. All the
comics have been free for you to read and will continue to be free.
However due to financial pressure and having a family to support I’m
asking for your help to keep Zen Pencils alive.

You can now pledge support on Patreon using a per comic
basis, choosing between $1 or $3 per comic. I think this is a better
system than being charged monthly as sometimes I don’t release a new
comic every month. So now you will only be charged when I release a new
comic, which might be in 3 weeks or 8 weeks – it really depends on the
level of work involved. I think one dollar a comic is not too much to
ask. The extra $3 pledge will give you access to my Patreon feed, which includes heaps of behind-the-scenes material on my cartooning process and other extra goodies.

As you’ve probably noticed, my comics have gone from short 2-3 page
story bites in the beginning of the website, to long and detailed mega
stories that often total over 10 pages – all drawn, inked, lettered and
coloured by myself. They take the equivalent of weeks of full-time work
to create and I can no longer keep doing them essentially for free in
the hope I might sell a poster version down the road or that it might
get collected into a book one day. I would love to keep Zen Pencils going and with your support, I hope you do too.


Thank you!


The cliché is that creativity and depression go hand-in-hand. Like many clichés, this one is quite true. But creators are not necessarily afflicted with some biological disease or psychological disorder that causes them to experience depression at the alarming rates that we see. They experience depression simply because they are caught up in a struggle to make life seem meaningful to them. People for whom meaning is no problem are less likely to experience depression. But for creators, losses of meaning and doubts about life’s meaningfulness are persistent problems—even the root causes of their depression.“

Eric Maisel, from The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path through Depression (New World Library, 2007)

‘Creativity’ is what a vast beach remarks when a grain of sand is swept away by the ocean. If this sounds too tragic or too grand for you, it means only that you are too far back in the dunes. An artist’s […] notion of luck, or chance reflects essentially his [or her] proximity to the water or, if you will, to matter.

Joseph Brodsky, from section III of “A Cat’s Meow,” On Grief and Reason (Farrar, Straus, and Grioux, 1995)


Most of us think the greatest possible achievement is to come up with everything ourselves, to invent and be creative, put our stamp on the world. But there are those who consider that the greatest achievement is to listen, to change this world by bringing into it what no one else is able to hear. Into the humdrum and ordinary they bring something extraordinary, a magic: not the fabricated type of magic that we invent to try and escape from the tedium of existence but a totally different kind, far more mysterious and infinitely more real.

And this magic always has a sign it can be recognized by – in the same kind of way that an orange with its stalk and leaves still attached can be a gentle reminder of how it has been brought to us from somewhere else.

That sign is its freshness: a strange sense of wholeness so alarming and out of place in this fragmented, upside-down world of ours that we feel a desperate need to complete it. But however hard we try to change it, interpret it, force it to make sense, we can never persuade it to fit in.

This is because we are what needs completing – not it. And the only way we can understand it is when we learn to judge and assess ourselves in its light; not it in the imagined light of ourselves.

Peter Kingsley