NEW YORK – Since its last live event in Manhattan’s Chelsea district on March 3, The Comic Arts Workshop has pivoted to an online presence.
All on Zoom, March 3’s guest speaker Valiant editor Lysa Hawkins was followed by workshop host David Saylor from Scholastic, Heidi MacDonald from the Beat, Alison Wilgus from Graphic Novel TK, and Jaydee Rosario from Unstoppable Comics. That’s 4 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,” says Fil-Am 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 opportunity to beef up its 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,” states Gil.
The Comic Arts Workshop now offers curated content, mini-coaching sessions, virtual bullpen sessions, an online community and weekly lessons for people 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 Gil. “The second obstacles are feelings of inadequacy because of age, lack of skills, or lack of confidence. Things we face head on in the workshop.”
Quarantining 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, workshop organizers see the current health challenge a great time to have a web-based business.
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, Gil started the New York Comic Book and Graphic Novel Creators Meetup as a way to connect with other comics people. Every month, an established professional from the industry would be invited to 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,” shares 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.”
Isip 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 Gil has curated for the group is of great benefit to these artists and writers.
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,” chimes 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,” declares 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 back in June 2017.
“I have three passions. Comics, teaching and building communities. This workshop lets me indulge all three!” beams Gil. “Truly a dream come true”
The workshop can be found at https://www.comicartsworkshop.com