Every year, San Diego Comic-Con International becomes bigger and better. Every year, new vendors come to show off new material and new artists debut their work for the first time. But until someone hits the Convention Center with a growth ray, the space to fit it all gets smaller and smaller. But a pair of resourceful Comic-Con regulars are offering up a solution – and a stylish location to boot.
PIXAR artists and independent cartoonists Scott Morse and Ted Mathot have teamed together to offer TR!CKSTER, the first ever creator-owned event operated simultaneously to Comic-Con International in San Diego. Described as a three-fold endeavor that’s equal parts retail space, fine art gallery and symposium, TR!CKSTER is a pop-up store springing up for Comic-Con week Tuesday through Sunday right across from the convention center itself. Off-site events are nothing new for Comic-Con, but the size and scope of TR!CKSTER promises something very unique for attendees to the convention.“The retail floor will operate like a store with one central register and be comprised solely of creator-owned work. There will be no booths, but there will be ample opportunity to meet and converse with your favorite creators in a casual, comfortable, relaxed atmosphere,” explains Morse, who is both coordinating and displaying as an artist. “We’ll have a scheduled signing area where fans can get their wares signed or commission artwork on a structured basis, but creators will be freely lounging throughout the day, enjoying conversation and cocktails within the shop or on the ample patio. With a full bar and live music we’ll be encouraging a casual and friendly atmosphere of sharing and learning amongst professionals and fans throughout the day and evening, every day. The TR!CKSTER store is free to enter and shop and enjoy.”
While the first floor houses the TR!CKSTER floor, TR!CKSTER will also house a fine art gallery displaying original works of art framed and hung for viewing. Docents will be on-hand to facilitate purchase of any works on display, and the organizers are planning a formal reception for the fine art gallery one evening during convention weekend.
Although having a pop-up store and fine art gallery might seem unique enough, TR!CKSTER’s most-talked about feature will likely be its symposium events.“The Greeks defined “symposium” as a “drinking party”. TR!CKSTER will offer two symposia each day, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM,” Morse explained. “The symposia will be ticketed affairs with limited seating. We’ll offer various symposia on technique, method, and theory on topics including writing, generating visuals, and protecting your work, among other things. Working professionals from various fields will be participating, including Mike Mignola, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Allred, and an array of other talents from the worlds of animation, film, illustration, and more.”
Although on the surface these symposia events might be mistaken for something akin to convention panels, Morse assures us it’s something far more.
“With the symposia we seek to offer something quite more extraordinary than a panel, more intimate and personal than a signing, and more informative, conversational, and collaborative than a lecture,” promises the artist. “ Each one will be structured in a slightly different manner, but generally, the symposia will be limited to 140 ticketed seats focusing on a staged area of professionals. Topics will include things like Visual Storytelling In Comics and Film, analyzing technique in regards to the visual languages of each and how they work for or against each medium; The Art Workshop, where various working artists will discuss supplies and methods and demonstrate techniques in painting, inking, drawing, and digital work while actively creating new pieces; Invisible Ink: The Understructure of Story, breaking down what makes “story”, how plot mechanics work, how character development and archetypes have evolved, and how to best form a bond with an audience.”
Morse himself is breaking something unique to the event – a symposia workshop springing out of his new project Crime and Terror.“Steve Niles and I are doing a workshop called Crime and Terror: Live, where we will create, from idea to finished pages, a full short story, detailing our working methods, tricks, and techniques concerning everything from dialogue to character design to page layout to pacing a moment to lettering to saving files for print.”
Although a complete inventory of the exclusive events and items offered at TR!CKSTER is still under wraps, speaking for himself Scott Morse can promise several interesting items.
“I’ll have a few unique new items, as well as original art, and will have some time set aside for commissions, as well,” Morse explains. “I’ll be debuting a sneak peek new book, A Glimpse of Crime and Terror, for the new series of hardcovers I’m making with Steve Niles. A Glimpse of Crime and Terror, is limited to 500 copies, oversized at 9”x12”, and designed as a heavy board book. I’ll also have copies of the Strange Science Fantasy trade from IDW and copies of my other books, too. Plus I’m sure some other surprises…I usually get excited before a con and whip up something special.”
Morse and Mathot have used their years of networking and friendship to secure an A-list roster of talent committed to showcase their work at TR!CKSTER.“TR!CKSTER is pleased to have found a certain unique camaraderie with a wide range of creators over a variety of fields. We seek to feature no one person involved over another but to share as completely as we can this opportunity to celebrate our work. A sampling of committed names at this point, participating in one way or another, include familiar favorites like Mike Mignola, Craig Thompson, Mike and Laura Allred, Skottie Young, Steve Niles, Greg Rucka, Bernie Wrightson, Jill Thompson, Scott Campbell, Doug Tennapel, David Mack, Paul Pope, and the list is growing. Many animation and filmmakers will be in attendance as well as illustrators, poster and print makers, toy designers, clothing designers, and more. And a lot of these creators will have exclusive items at TR!CKSTER.”
Although creators have talked for years about hosting off-site events to alleviate the packed aisles during Comic-Con weekend, TR!CKSTER takes those ideas and puts it to action. After going to conventions and expos across the world on behalf of PIXAR and through their own independent projects, Morse and Mathot have seen how the conventional convention atmosphere (pardon the pun) can be a drain on the creative spirit.
“Time spent at a booth begging for sales could be time spent conversing and learning and becoming inspired on a deeper level, not only from other professionals, but from fans as well,” explained Morse. “If we could generate freedom during an event to “live”, we’d be onto something: a way to progress. We felt that if we could focus on what it is that drives us all creatively to make art, to tell stories, to communicate, we might find a strong way to celebrate those things.”
One of the keys to making a unique event like TR!CKSTER work in the shadow of Comic-Con International is location, and the two artists have accomplished that by partnering with a local business owner directly accross from the convention center.
“TR!CKSTER will be located in what’s formally known as the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center. John Alonge, the owner of the SDWCC, is whole-heartedly behind the idea and mission of TR!CKSTER and is generously working with us to produce what will hopefully be regarded as a haven for creators and their work,” Morse tells Newsarama.com. “To get there, simply step out of the convention center, cross the street and railroad track at 5th Ave, hang a left and walk a few hundred feet. It’s about as centrally located as you can get.”
To further stimulate the event’s atmosphere and patrons, the TR!CKSTER organizers have secured a full bar for its visitors featuring beer, wine and cocktails from 12 Noon to 1:00 AM.“No food, but if you’re looking for a crisp, smooth, relaxing way to enjoy your comics and art, the TR!CKSTER store and patio is for you,” says Morse. “A photo I.D. will be required, of course, if you’re enjoying an alcoholic beverage, but the store is open to all ages. TR!CKSTER is also working to offer a fair-trade coffee cart in the mornings from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM, and at 5:00 PM each afternoon we’ll offer ‘THE HIGH FIVE”, a unique, neat top shelf pour of hand-picked bourbon, whiskey, rum, or tequila, which will come with a limited edition print by a different artist each day (Tuesday through Saturday evenings), as well as a special TR!CKSTER glass.”
With so much to offer at TR!CKSTER, visitors will have a hard time decide which to get – but one of the “must-have” items according the organizers will be the TR!CKSTER coffee book.
“The limited edition TR!CKSTER hardcover volume will have a cover by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart, and features original illustrations from Mike Allred, David Mack, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, Doug Tennapel, Bill Presing, and a whole armada of talent from the comics and animation industries. This thing will really be something you won’t want to miss. I’m contributing an original 8-page introductory story about TR!CKSTER as well, and the book will feature a blank signature of pages for people to actively seek out artists and obtain original drawings during the week.”Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think!