“In recent years, comic book fans have been divided about how much politics and social justice issues should be present in comics.” Ramon explains. “On one side are folks who have been dubbed the ‘ComicsGate’ camp and are against gender and race bending in comic stories, and on the other side are people who believe that the audience has changed and that comics have to change with it.” Despite these recent issues, Ramon states that he has been promoting diversity way before any of this came up.
For most of his adult life, Professor Ramon Gil has worked towards more visibility for Asian Americans and minorities in general. Also being a comic book writer and artist, Ramon is merging these two passions by organizing what will be Diversity Comic Con at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
The event will be held on Thursday, October 11 from 10am to 6pm at the Great Hall of FIT’s Conference Center. There will be professional artists tables, panel discussions on a wide range of topics and cosplayers parading their latest fashion fantasy creations. Special guests include award-winning author of The Fifth Beatle – Vivek Tiwary, Batman artist and Black Lightning Co-creator – Trevor Von Eeden and comics editor and diversity advocate – Heather Antos.
Many more creators will be exhibiting, including Larry Hama, Heidi MacDonald, Dean Haspiel, Robyn Chapman, Reilly Brown and Janice Chiang. Many of whom have worked for top comic publishers like DC, Marvel, Image, Archie, IDW and more. There will even be animators, graphic novelists, storybook authors and publishers on hand. All professionals will be giving reviews to students who bring their portfolios.
Panel discussion topics include basics like “Breaking in,” “The History of Comics as an Art form” and “The Future of Comics” as well as more diversity related subjects like “A History of LGBTQ in Comics” and “Comics from Around The World”
“In all my comic book stories, the lead characters are almost always Asian” says Ramon who has been making comics since 2014 after a 20 year break from the industry.
On the advice of a fellow FIT faculty member, he attended a diversity grants workshop and submitted a proposal. Thinking that it was a long shot, he was surprised to get an email asking him to report to the Chief Diversity Officer, Ron Milon, because his proposal was approved. “Ron has been our staunchest advocate from the very beginning. It was his idea to make this part of the school’s Civility Week.” With help and support from other FIT faculty and students, namely Prof. Kyunghee Pyun and senior Chase Bluestone, the Diversity Con is mere weeks away from reality.
The event is open to the FIT community who need only present their school IDs for admission but the general public will have to reserve free tickets at http://diversitycomiccon.com