Home Culture Cartoonists Comic-Con finally gets its Slamdance: TR!CKSTER

Comic-Con finally gets its Slamdance: TR!CKSTER


For several years, those who feel that the San Diego Comic-Con has lost the comics part of the equation (even though it isn’t true at all ) have been wondering if an alternative event — a “Slamdance*” to CCI:SD’s Sundance — would spring up. And artist/animators Scott Morse and Ted Mathot (who both have Pixar as a day job) are making this “Slamcomic” come true with TR!CKSTER, an alternative venue for comics events that will be open to the public and located right across the tracks from the SD Convention Center.

TR!CKSTER is a retail space: specializing in CREATOR-OWNED wares including small run and limited edition books, fine art prints, toys, clothing, and more.

TR!CKSTER is a fine art gallery space: featuring the CREATOR-OWNED work of some of today’s most influential artists and designers.

TR!CKSTER is a series of Symposia: focused, CREATOR-DRIVEN demonstrations and discussions of method, process, and theory concerning the act of creating new, uniquely-voiced works of art.

We at TR!CKSTER create and control our own work, our own visions, and our own destinies. We do these things to share them with the world. We’d love to make your acquaintance.

Tr!ckster will run from Tuesday to Sunday of Con week, spotlighting creator owned comics with exhibits, a store, ticketed-symposium, and plenty of drinks — including the specially-designed High Five — at night — the 4,500 sq. ft. venue, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, that mysterious big building that looms right across the tracks and next to the Gaslamp Hilton and that patch of grass where movie companies usually set up a carnival. Creators involved are the top of the line:

Mike Mignola, Craig Thompson, Mike and Laura Allred, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson, Steve Niles, Greg Rucka, Jill Thompson, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, Mike Huddleston, Marc Andreyko, Fabio Moon, Andy Kuhn, Steve Purcell, Doug TenNapel, David Mack, Greg Ruth and many many more.

The website already has a boatload of information. The public will need to buy tickets to the symposia which will focus on process, technique, history and other process-related topics — profits will go to the participants.

Morse told The Beat:

The goal is to create a comforting, classy atmosphere where fans and creators can find a haven for art and comics storytelling. Creators might sign books or do drawings on a schedule, but not be expected to sign stacks of books or the like if they don’t want to. NO BOOTHS. It’ll be like a *hopefully* well-designed retail store that you can navigate leisurely mixed with an art gallery vibe of cocktail hour ALL WEEK. We’ll do a soft opening on Tuesday night, and then it’s full-speed ahead.

Morse and Mathot are paying for this themselves, but will have animation screenings from Cartoon Brew, art collective The Brothers Ink, and exhibitors Global PSD, the Chinese printer, and WHAMIX! iPad comics promoter.

Tr!ckster also aims to become the perfect alternative to the Hyatt with a bar (no food) and a large outdoor patio. We can already see the fun and drama unfolding in our mind’s eye. Comic book bands THE GEAR featuring Mike Allred and nerd-core king KIRBY KRACKLE will supply the entertainment.

Tr!ckster has already put together an all-star anthology which will be on sale at the event.

“We’re not making a “small press” show like APE or a glorified artist’s alley,” Morse continued. “We’re making something incredibly new…and creator-owned.”


Our take? This was an inevitable evolution away from the scrum and filmed-entertainment-oriented focus of so much of the Comic-Con energy. We’ve been saying for years that comics should fight back to get their share of the spotlight in their signature event, but for whatever reason — fatigue, etc. — it hasn’t happened. However, this should become a huge nightlife congregation for the comics people of Comic-con and a real rallying point for how the comics world is evolving has evolved into a part of the larger cultural landscape.

It’s also part of the Angoulême-ization of Comic-Con, with comics gradually taking over the whole town for the whole week.

It’s going to be fun.

More here.

* Slamdance is the indie/experimental film event that runs alongside the more mainstream-y Sundance, which itself started as an indie alternative to the Cannes Film festival and the American FIlm mMarket.

  1. This is a brilliant idea. Makes me sad I’m missing SDCC this year, but hopefully this becomes an annual thing. This is what comics needs, not the moaning of creators aching for a “Creator Con” like they have in the past.

  2. COOL! Even more Comix goodness in downtown SD in late July!

    Will definitely check this out, since I’m there anyways. Makes a nice Alt/Indy ‘chaser’ to the
    Filipino Komikeros, Chester Brown, Joyce Babner/Frank Stack, Comic Art Conferences and Evanier panels and events I’ll be going to at across the train tracks at this year’s SDCC.

    But I hope they won’t keep me out if I’m wearing that freebie “Avengers 2012″/”The Hobbit” t-shirt I got for going to Hall H, though…

  3. This has been done in the clothing industry. The MAGIC ( Mens Apparel Guild International Collection ) Convention in Las Vegas, a show once known for launching indie clothing lines, the convention grew to monstrous proportions in the early 90s. Eventually disgruntled exhibitors saw an opportunity to launch intimate, specialized shows that catered to the needs of certain exhibitors and buyers.

    This could actually be the start of a slew of alternative venues and offerings. I think it’s a great move.

  4. This appears to be just a money-making venture for higher end creators.

    Does this help vintage comics retailers that are being squeezed out of Comic Con? What about small press people?

    Sure it’s cool and whatever but it’s not really an alternative just more of the same with an indy comics theme.

  5. Badpenny: Steve Niles is a pretentious indie snob? What bridge do you live under?

    Andy G: I’m always for more comics at Comic-con. But the culture clash between all the factions you mention is likely to play out for some time.

  6. @the beat,

    I didn’t single anyone out but was refering to the event itself. And I think you knew that perfectly well.

    Are you actually trying to say that there isn’t an elitist vibe among the indie set? I don’t know how you can see me under that bridge with your head so deep in the sand.

    Either that or you’ve never been to an indie ally in your life which I know isn’t the case. So perhaps you just can’t see it amongst your own?

  7. Hey all, I’m Scott Morse, one of the guys running TR!CKSTER. It’s not for everyone, I’ll admit. If it sounds like it’s not for you, that’s fine with me. I’m tired of sitting behind a booth. I’m tired of not coming away inspired. I’m attempting to remedy that. I love old comics as much as the next guy…I read my 6 year old TALES OF SUSPENSE and other pre-hero stuff. I know my history, and I celebrate it. I try to learn from it. What I don’t do is sit around and call out people for attempting to progress in their abilities as a storyteller, an art maker, or a professional.

    Badpenny, AndyG: Sure, I’d like to make my money back. And I’d like to do it in an environment that’s like-minded in promoting and celebrating what they work hard at: entertaining you. TR!CKSTER will house not only working professionals but storytellers and artists just cutting their teeth…work of high quality across the board.

    I don’t have time for “snobby Comic Journal” goons. I have time to progress my art, to share technique, method, and theory with other creators, and to have fun. I’m working to push things here, not stagnate and throw a party for mediocrity. We’re not shooting or “more of the same”, we’re shooting to learn how to create “the new”. We can only do that if we allow ourselves the opportunity.

    Come relax and have a drink. Wear what you want, I won’t judge you.

  8. Well, I’m glad the west coast can get some pop-up store action, seems to be the craze in nyc. Be nice to figure out what to do with all that vacant Hollywood Video Spaces – and now Blockbuster spaces we’ve got.

  9. bravo to scott & ted for having the balls to finally put this together after years of people (myself included!) lamenting the fact that there’s not enough options for people who are being shut out of the big show…or just need a break from it.

    scott is one of the most down-to-earth people in this whole industry and it’s really pathetic that people want to take the time to slam this idea based on their own hang-ups and assumptions.

    if this industry is to survive (and flourish)in our country, we need more of this sort of thing…big, positive ideas that get more voices involved.

    anyone who claims to love comics should see the value in this. thanx scott & ted!

  10. @Scott: I can’t speak for the other guy, but to be clear, I’m not ‘calling you out’ or shooting the idea down. Heidi’s right, anything that adds more comics back into to Comic Con is great.

    But it simply comes off sounding more like a “stars of Indy comics” pavilion rather than something that will progress a career or change the status quo.

    The presentation of the space will be interesting. The symposiums will be a blast. People will most likely make some money.

    This is all good.

    However, it’s a partial solution.

    I have been going to Comic Con since 1978. I have been on both sides of the table as fan and pro. I have watched the show turn into something alien and Hollywood losing its comics focus.

    What I had hoped to see early on from Creator Con It’s On was something that would rekindle the spirit that had gone out of the show. I hope that is still the case.

    But I still want to see vintage comics, and hand-stapled minis, and a place where creators DO sit at their booth SO I CAN MEET THEM and get them to sign a book.

    Am I alone in this?

  11. Will — Badpenny is a troll so I wouldn’t waste too much time worrying about him/her.

    Andy — SDCC is a media circus, not a place for longboxes. The thriving regional show circuit shows that there are tons of places for dealers to go.

    Maybe Nicolas Cage or whoever wants to wander out of Hall H to go scour a bin to find an old issue of Tessie the Typist he was missing but….I doubt it.

    High end dealers of collectibles will always have a place at CCI, but it’s not the plaec to buy $1 issues any more.

  12. When I first saw this announcement, I thought it was the folks who did the “Trickster” anthology that is nominated for an Eisner this year. I think a few other people might get confused as well . . .

  13. @Heidi: Right. So SDCC should change its name. But let’s be honest, the regional shows are the minor leagues compared to Comic Con.

    Meanwhile, I don’t want take this thread away from Trickster anymore so maybe we can carry on this conversation at the Hyatt in July. :)

  14. AndyG: This was spawned from discussions on CREATOR-CO: IT’S ON, certainly, but we NEVER said or intended to “fix” everything. We ARE attempting to progress from where we’ve been, though. If you’ve got some idea on what YOU’D like to see, maybe this movement will empower YOU to step up and make those things happen. We’re doing what we can in ONE event, not the END-ALL event. It’ll make more of a mark than sitting around complaining, I hope.

    And for the record, we’ll have stapled mini’s. We’ll have comics, we’ll have coffee table art books. We’ll be celebrating the Golden Age through archival collections and discussions. We’ll have things of a unique quality, as much of it as we can reasonably represent fairly. And you can get your books signed. We’re just setting up a store model where creators aren’t trapped by the necessity of sitting behind a table for 5 days straight pushing their own work. Come really MEET them, talk to them, buy them a drink, and thank them for their work if you feel like it. They’ll appreciate it.

    Come discuss it at TR!CKSTER’s bar with Heidi.

    JACKIE: The Eisner-nominated TRICKSTER anthology folks wil be represented at TR!CKSTER. We’re not concerned about an event name being crossed with a book and neither are they. We support them, they support us.

    Thanks for the comments and concerns everyone. I’m sure we’ll screw a few things up, and it won’t be everything to everyone, but its better than sitting behind our booths complaining about some elusive “vibe” we’re feeling slip away for one more year. We have to start somewhere.

  15. Are the creators attending TR!CKSTER coming in for the event or are they already going to be at Comic-Con and doing this on the side?

  16. Dunno what the local ordinances allow, but a food van or two would be perfect. Or maybe someone could rent the In-And-Out trailer for a few hours…

    The event sounds great, although I do wonder about the crowds.

    heh… so finally, there’s an official Bar-Con?

  17. High end dealers of collectibles will always have a place at CCI, but it’s not the place to buy $1 issues any more.

    I certainly hope not— I’ll be looking for discounted BLACKEST NIGHT, SIEGE and other recent Big Two supermegaseriouschangeofstatusquocrossovereventoftheyear! issues just to see what’ve I’ve missed out on; and to continue to try to fill out the holes in my AMALGAM collection. $1’s fine for them… but 2@ is even better.


    The shirt’s okay? Good. Now will I have to check in that ginormous WB bag w/FOX poster tube when I enter the place? ;)

    Never have been into the whole ‘Comics Social Drinking Scene’ [I’ll wait for The BEAT’s reportage on how that went], but I’ll be glad to check out the artwork on display between my Pinot Blanc sippings. That Artist list is excellent, and I’m looking forward tosee new work.

    And, any plans for an East Coast version of TR!CKSTER during NYCC? (Or will it be a SDCC-only
    ‘exclusive’ like “FLYNN’S Arcade” was?)

  18. This is really exciting. Free shows have great possibility as comics outreach, and also this maybe helps deal with the fact that a lot more people want to go to to CCI thatn are actually able to get tickets.

  19. I’m a troll because I make the comment that the event sounds snooty and for pointing out that you were wrong for saying that I was talking about the guy planning it when I was clearly refering to the vibe of the event? Okay. Good luck with that thin skin condition.

  20. Badpenny, have you ever actuallY TALKED to these ACTUAL people listed as participating? This is as friendly and outgoing a group of creators as you could possibly find. Have you ever talked to David Mack or Scott Morse or Jill Thompson? I have seen them talk to fans and pros alike, and they are friendly, outgoing people.

    So please.

  21. This sounds great. The only negative I foresee is that it most likely be super crowded… although I assume fire marshall type limits will have to be enforced. Cheers to the idea of many similar venues opening in the future.

    Good luck to all and I’ll see you there!

  22. I’m at a loss why anyone would shoot this down. It’s a great idea and Scott is a guy with his head screwed on straight. If anyone has complaints do it after the event, but for now let the pioneers strike a path where others fear to tread. A high tide lifts all boats, but first you gotta make waves. This could spur on something creating an Angouleme effect which would help other areas of the industry. I’m all for progress. Even partial progress. Will it be perfect? Will it address all the concerns and perceptions and such?

    No. But I’d rather see it started than wait for the perfect comment-proof idea — which would never happen. It’s just like a national health care plan. Bitch and moan about it not being perfect, or just get started and iron it out as you go along… while others sit on the sidelines and moan.

    I will support Trickster, buy a ticket and some books / merch.

  23. I’ve been to roughly 36 years of SDCC and varioius other conventions and walked the indie alleys at all of them and that’s more than enough to make the “informed” call that I made. You can’t swing a dead cat in indie ally without seeing at least a dozen indie creators with looks of contempt for passerbys who show interest in their “products” or not.

    I matters little to me how many of these people you know “personally”. But I’ve been to at least as many Cons as you have and I know what I know. So spare me your smug pretensions and denials of fact. I’m talking about the tone of these events and the tone you see at just about every indie ally. I’ve never once made a comment about anyone specific even though you continue to frame what I said that way. So I’ll do you the favor of not visiting your site in the future since differing opinions are met with false cries of “Troll” if you’ll kindly do me the favor of go fucking yourself. Deal?

  24. @TheBeat

    Having arrived at my informed opinion after attending 36 years worth of SDCC indie alleys and various other cons, indie press events and indie alleys and seeing as how you can’t walk down one without seeing at least a dozen or more of these “artists” give attendees, prospective customers or not, looks of contempt, I feel more than safe in proffering the opinion that I did.

    I’m not taking your bait by saying anything about the individual people because that wasn’t what I was talking about even though you continue to purposely misrepresent my point. I was talking about the “vibe” of these events. It’s a vibe that’s common at APE and anyone that says that’s not the case is lying or just friends with the contemptuous individuals and don’t really care one way or the other.

    Since I haven’t said anything disparaging about a single person or done any name calling of any sort other than to simply put out an opinion, I don’t really see what your problem is. You’re the one that mistakenly continues to accuse me of casting aspersions on the individuals when I’m clearly talking about what I think the tone of the event will be.

    Since this isn’t the first time that I’ve corrected one of your mistakes (this time regarding what my point is, previously an article by you full of misinformation) only to be met with smug attitude, I’ll just say that I’ll stop visiting your site since differing opinions are indeed met with name calling by you. I’m sure this will please you greatly. It’s just too bad that I can’t get my donation to this site back. But hey, no thin skin off your nose, right?

  25. I can’t wait for Tr!ckster! It’s going to be a blast. Oh, I sure we’ll make some mistakes (many of them will, undoubtably be mine), and some folks might leave wondering what we were thinking.

    Still, I hope you guys (even badpenny ;-) stop by to say ‘hello’, check us out, ask us questions, and generally enhance our ‘vibe’ by being there.

    You don’t have to buy anything (not even a drink, for me) and I promise not a single shirt or shwag bag will be mocked. I may, in fact, gaze upon them covetously.

  26. Badpenny: I don’t get how an event can have a tone that is not set by THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RUNNING THE EVENT. If not the artists who are represented than where will this attitude of snobbery come from? That is what I don’t get.

  27. @thebeat,

    Really? Wow. You know, I’ve known several of the organizers of SDCC over the years. Some of them were great people. Did that mean that there were not guests/pros/merchants at SDCC that weren’t assholes? No. So your statement is ludicrous. And your defensiveness on the subject as well as your complete inability to address my point speaks volumes.

    No, I don’t know every single person that will be at this event. Yes, I have met some of the people that will be in attendance and “some” of them are very pleasant. Some people in the indie booths I’ve visited over the years are also pleasant people. But then “some” isn’t the same thing as “all” or even “most”, is it? My point is valid and there isn’t anyone here whether they’re an indie creator or typical convention goer that doesn’t know exactly what I’m talking about, including you.

    And simply knowing or being friends with some of these people as you are still fails to address my original point (which was so incredibly offensive that you felt you needed to delete it although I’m guessing “challenging” is more accurate than offensive) about a problem that isn’t just my personal “hang up” but is a tone that has been “consistent” in the indie alleys over the last 20 some years and has alienated hundreds of possible customers causing the loss of sales to indie creators whether friendly or jerk.

    That you and plenty of indie creators choose to willfully overlook this issue “cause they’re pals” means as little to me as your own disingenuousness in this matter, so spare me your feigned outrage. The fact that you’re going to be there basically proves my point. And your use of the term “Angouleme-ization of comics” certainly isn’t helping. More likely it’s the further Algonquin-ization of the independents. Only without the good natured wit of Robert Benchley. I’m thinking you, Heidi, would be Woollcott only without the talent.

    So have fun, hope the event is successful. I might even completely overlook the fact that you will be there and cross the street for a visit anyways. Although I doubt I’ll be buying drinks for anyone but myself. Cheers.

  28. Badpenny: For the record, I did not intentionally delete your comment. I did find a couple of yours in the spam filter, so I think it was accidentally deleted while I was cleaning it out. There was certainly nothing deletion-worthy in it. Sorry about that.

    Otherwise, I think your post speaks for itself.

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