Comics writer and artist finds virtual teaching a boon

by Jay Domingo, PDM Staff Writer

Ramon Gil | Photo Jane Haslam

NEW YORK – Cartoons have been part of the fabric of newspapers since Thomas Nast, considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon”, drove William Magear “Boss” Tweed, an American politician, out of the Tammany Hall in New York City in the 19th century.

Years later, newspapers carried comic-strip characters that became national celebrities such Superman and other superheroes like Batman and Wonder Woman published by DC Comics until it peaked in 2015 and continued until now.

Filipino American Ramon Gil love for the craft – writing comics books — has been ingrained in him even before moving to New York from Los Angeles in the 90s. His determination has not wavered and diminished despite working at an advertising firm for 25 years. On the side, he was dabbling on comics writing and in 2014, he was motivated to engage himself to full time writing. Today, even with the pandemic, he has found a “silver lining to this dark cloud” when he transitioned to a different model of teaching the craft.

Workshop participants discuss creative writing stories, time-saving tricks that professionals use to produce more work in less time, build a body of work that they can pitch, self-publish, and gain the mindset, attitude and qualities that publishers look for in creators they want to work with/
| Photo Comic Arts Workshop
Published comic books of Ramon Gil | Photo Comic Arts Workshop

Since March 3 when the Comic Arts Workshop held its last live event in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, Gil has shifted to virtual mode — via Zoom — of educating comics enthusiasts hosted by David Saylor from Scholastic, Heidi MacDonald from the Beat, Alison Wilgus from Graphic Novel TK and Jaydee Rosario from Unstoppable Comics.

“The unexpected silver lining to this dark cloud is that we’ve been getting attendees not just from around the country, but also from around the world,” said Gil, a comic book writer, artist and educator who had organized these workshops. “Since it’s no longer a physical event, folks have been logging on as far away as the Philippines.”

With this move, it has given the workshop the impetus and opportunity to shore up format and content. ““I’ve always wanted to make this an actual educational program. Now with all apps and course delivery platforms available, we can do that,” Gil said.

The Comic Arts Workshop now offers curated content, mini-coaching sessions, virtual bullpen sessions, an online community and weekly lessons for folks who want to become confident and prolific comic and graphic novel creators. To make it easier for everyone to process information and to overcome barriers, Gil said that they keep the lessons “bite-size.”

Comic Arts Workshop participants pre-COVID lockdown. | Photo Comic Arts Workshop

Secondly, he needed to address ” feelings of inadequacy because of age, lack of skills, or lack of confidence. Things we face head-on in the workshop,” Gil explained.

The Comic Arts Workshop has helped several aspiring creators like Glen Isip, a graphic designer. “With Comic Arts’ help, I got feedback on my plot ideas, tips on how to pace the story, and – most importantly – a network of other creators eager to make their mark in comics,” he said. “Being a part of Comic Arts’ anthology inspired me to keep creating comics, and now I even have publishers interested in commissioning me for work.”

In addition, the workshop has produced several members who are now working at Scholastic, The Beat and AWA. This network of fellow creators and the lessons Gil has curated for the group continue to benefit artists and writers.

Gil has survived a stroke in 2017 and his health has prevented him from hanging out and networking at Comic Cons. But this did not stop him from pursuing his passion. He started the New York Comic Book and Graphic Novel Creators Meetup to connect with other comics people. Every month, they would invite a pro from the industry to come speak before the group.

Participants to a recent comic arts workshop via Zoom | Photo Comic Arts Workshop

Fabrice Sapolsky, creator of Spider-man Noir for Marvel praised Gil for his steadfast determination to advocate for comic arts. “Ramon Gil’s knowledge in everything comic book is phenomenal. He can write, draw, edit and he published his own comics for years,” he said. “As much as he’s an observer of our industry, Ramon is always ready to share.” Sapolsky was the first workshop guest speaker in June 2017.

Gil has written and published several comics stories such as Batman: Last Knight in the City, Truer Than Trousdale, Phantom of the Subway, Justin and Danielle, Emergency Landing among many. He has also worked on film such as the Inside Man (2012), The Fox Trap (2011), Charlie’s Angel (2008) and A Special Message (2008).

His work has been featured in Society of Illustrators Annual, The Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Stephen Romaniello’s The Perfect Digital Portfolio, Crain’s New York Business, Créme Magazine and Altra Magazine. He also taught design and illustration at the Parsons School of Design and FIT. He is currently working on several comic projects including a middle school graphic novel for a major publisher.

“I have three passions: Comics, teaching and building communities. This workshop, which is now open for Fall 2020 online class, allows me to indulge in all three!” Gil noted. “Truly a dream come true”

The workshop can be found at http://www.comicartsworkshop.com.

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