Coronavirus lockdown sees unexpected boon for comics artists

Ramon Gil is a comic books artist, writer and educator.

On March 3, The Comic Arts Workshop held its last live event in Manhattan’s Chelsea district.

That night’s featured guest speaker was Valiant editor Lysa Hawkins. Since then the workshop has hosted David Saylor from Scholastic, Heidi MacDonald from the Beat, Alison Wilgus from Graphic Novel TK and Jaydee Rosario from Unstoppable Comics. All on Zoom. That’s four months’ worth of events forced online due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“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 organizer Ramon Gil. “Since it’s no longer a physical event, folks have been logging on as far away as the Philippines.”

This sudden move to virtual has also given the workshop the impetus and opportunity to beef up the format and content. “I’ve always wanted to make this an actual educational program. Now with all apps and course delivery platforms available, we’re able to do that,” said Gil.

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. “We keep the lessons ‘bite-sized’ to make it easier for everyone to process the information since overwhelm is the number one challenge for many people,” according to him. “The second obstacle are feelings of inadequacy because of age, lack of skills or lack of confidence. Things we face head on in the workshop.”

Quarantine has been a boon to many businesses with online content delivery models. Netflix, TikTok, Udemy and Facebook are seeing tremendous surges in their user engagement. Ironically, now is a great time to have a web-based business. Workshop organizers see in this an opportunity.

A Zoom session with pros in the industry who offered coaching tips to artists from around the world.

After surviving a stroke in 2017, Gil decided to return to his first love and career: making comics. Having run his own marketing company for years, Gil knew the importance of building relationships and gaining knowledge. But his health constraints prevented him from hanging out and networking at faraway Comic Cons. Instead, Ramon started the New York Comic Book and Graphic Novel Creators Meetup as a way to connect with other comics people. Every month, they would invite an established pro from the industry to come speak and take questions. 

Over the years, this format has helped several aspiring creators break in.  “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,” shared graphic designer Glen Isip. “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.”

Glen is not the only success story. The workshop has several members who are now working at Scholastic, The Beat, and AWA. “This network of fellow creators and the lessons Ramon has curated for the group is of great benefit to these artists and writers,” he said further.

Ramon Gil is an artist, writer and educator who got his first cartooning credit back in 1981 in the Philippine magazine TV Times. In 2014, he published his first comic book Scifies using talent almost exclusively from the Philippines. Including Lui Antonio, Gilbert Monsanto, Roy Allan Martinez, and the famous DC/Marvel artist Rudy Nebres. “Ramon always makes my art look so good,” chimed Jan Marc Quisumbing, one of Gil’s frequent collaborators.

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

“I have three passions. Comics, teaching and building communities. This workshop lets me indulge all three!” beamed Gil. “Truly a dream come true”

The workshop can be found at

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