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San Diego Comic-Con Has Competition: Introducing Trickster!

TricksterCreator-Con, and threw around suggestions for what they wanted to see in a counter-festival: a dealers room filled with comics and artist-created products that they’d actually want to buy, in-depth classes and how-tos, and a casual and relaxed environment for catching up with old friends and making new ones. Most importantly, they wanted a place that celebrated creating art instead of the Comic-Con’s shift towards consumerism and its many tentacles including Hollywood, fandom and cosplay.

The idea found plenty of grassroots support, and lead to a new event called TR!CKSTER which will debut throughout the week of Comic-Con (July 19-24, 2011) literally across the street from the San Diego Convention Center. Here’s the map:


And here’s the place – the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center:


To understand the philosophy behind the event and the reason for its name, I’d suggest starting here. The lofty and admirable ambitions of TR!CKSTER–spearheaded by creators Scott Morse and Ted Mathot–include promoting a stronger bond between creator and audience, while eliminating barriers like convention booths and tables so that everyone can interact and learn from one another.

The three main components of the festival are:

* Symposia, a series of intensive workshops revolving around the theme of storytelling, with the participation of Mike Mignola, Mike Allred, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse, Ted Mathot, Derek Thompson, Greg Rucka, Craig Yoe, and others to be announced soon.

* A huge retail area where creators will be selling their wares and doing signings throughout the day. (Unlike Comic-Con, there is no admission fee. The Symposia events cost money, but everything else is FREE.)

* A coffee and cocktail bar, drawing areas with live models, a gallery space, live musical performances and DJs, and film screenings. (Note: Cartoon Brew is a proud sponsor of the inaugural edition and we’re planning some animation screenings. More details to come.)

For more information, visit or go to Trickster’s Facebook page.

  • Sounds like an absolute dream come true. And it’s FREE?!

    (checks hotel prices)

  • Stephen DeStefano

    This is very, very cool. I’d no plans to attend SDCC this year, but it almost makes me want to buy a plane ticket and head out west this summer. Congrats and kudos to the organizers.

  • Hell, I’d drive down for the day! IT’d be worth it!

  • Bud

    AMAZING! I’m surprised ComCon is letting this happen…I have a feeling this will be the bigger draw. Good luck to all those who set it up and are participating. See you there (and I’ll be skipping ComiCon altogether!).

  • It’s not competition, it’s a companion. Hopefully, a great looking art scene will cause the people who have never heard about these artists to check out this great art.

    This is great for Comic-Con and for comics in general. Framing this as a fight between the two is just low and lame.

  • Hmmph, I bet hotels will still be expenisive because of Comic-Con.
    Still, that sounds pretty good. I hope it’ll be a big success over the years, and not end up becoming SDCC 2 down the line.

  • Ron

    I’ll be there for both! Count me in.

    • Ron

      It’s like the Protestant Reformation of Comic-Con.

  • Hanpa

    I’ve been burnt out on comic-con for a few years and this looks like the perfect remedy. I’m in!

  • James

    I got excited until I found out it wouldn’t take place in the Bay Area. This makes it that much harder to not be able to go to Comic-con this year. I’d love to have something like this in the Bay.

  • Gray64

    This sounds like a great idea, but why hold it in San Diego at the same time as Comic-Con? Comic Con itself will already make it difficult for the ordinary comics fan and non-superstar creator not already living in the area to find accomodations in SD. Other than a perhaps understandable desire to one-up Comic-Con, what’s the point of trying to compete directly with it on it’s own turf?

    • Unlike the way Amid framed it in his post, this isn’t trying to one-up Comic Con. It’s a companion piece. Like Slamdance to Sundance. Comic Con is still a large draw for people who appreciate the arts. This is offering artists a new venue to get noticed and recognition. If some of the thousands of Comic-Con guests wander across the street to see how this goes, and discover new material, this is win-win.

      As for other events, there are similar festivals throughout the country all years long (MoCCA, SPX, Stumptown, APE and dozens more). If you’re interested, go look around.

      • amid

        Steve Flack – Companion and competition are two sides of the same coin. I’m sure the organizers of the Comic-Con don’t view this as a mere “companion”, especially if comic artists (and their fans) desert SDCC in droves.

        Slamdance, as you say, found its own voice and reputation separate from Sundance, but it wouldn’t have existed if not for Sundance’s rejection of indie and first-time filmmakers. Similarly, I agree that there is absolutely room for both SDCC and Trickster to co-exist and be successful on their own terms since the audiences for both are different. But considering that in this first year, most of the attendees, speakers and exhibitors of Trickster will be frustrated Con attendees, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging its competitive roots.

      • Fine, keep propagating your snobby, elitist “us vs them” mentality. In the end, you’re hurting your cause more than helping it.

    • Funkybat

      The reason to hold it at the same time & place as Comic-Con is because SDCC has become such a behemoth, this gives people who mainly want to attend SDCC for the art to have a place to go *just* to see fresh art and meet creators. I’m sure this will be very busy, but it won’t be in the hundreds of thousands. Something human-scale will be a refreshing change.

      SDCC has become a general pop-culture convention. Comics and animation art have become like a third or a quarter of what’s featured. Some of us aren’t interested in seeing previews of the latest tween action/sci-fi flick, picking up schwag from booth babes, or looking at tons of expensive limited-edition merch. Oh, or waiting in lines that last longer than the running time of most animated films.

      An art-only venue gives up-and-comers a fighting chance to get noticed because the crowds aren’t overwhelming, and lets more established artists meet those who appreciate them without all the “chaff” of people just there for movie previews & celebrities. This event sounds like a very good thing.

  • Hey all- I’m one of the guys behind TR!CKSTER. Thanks so much for the well wishing, most of you. For the rest, the doubtful, the worried it’s “not in my town”: TR!CKSTER is the first of its kind. This is a beta test, really. Help us make it work, make it a reality. The idea will grow…and travel. We’re grabbing the bull by its horns and holding on. This is our WORK, our LIVES we’re in charge of here, to promote and celebrate. We’re simply taking the opportunity to call some shots of our own. It’s not competition. We don’t compete with anyone but ourselves.

    In short, we’re not trying to “one-up” anyone. We’re trying to have a good time in a place where we congregate yearly with friends and colleagues. Not just a good time…the best time we can have, learning, promoting, sharing, and becoming inspired to keep on creating without become jaded.

    • Bud

      I do fully understand you’re a “companion,” and not INTENDING to be “competition,” but frankly, the roster of talent going into Trickster makes it a stop worth skipping ComiCon altogether for. Seriously. There looks to be nothing quite like it since…since…well, since the original Comicons.

  • Justin

    Well I will be attending comic con.

    So I will be checking it out.

    Even though I take mild offense by main idea behind the convention, it does interest me of what it will be like and what will happen.

    and since most of the events are free.
    So I must say these are no starving artist.

    But TR!CKSTER seems to be a convention for artist by artist.

    and not a convention for consumers/press(public) run by artist.

    But I love Comic-Con, and I will hopefully never miss it. I have a 12 year streak going on.

  • If you would like to screen Slim Pickings Fat Chances there, that would be great! I would even like to come to Trickster myself, but fat chance of that happening…

  • Steve Gattuso

    Interesting. I still can’t afford to go to the area, but if I did I’d probably find more things of interest to me at this event than CCI.

  • Emm

    Sounds really cool! :)

  • udx

    Even though I’m heading to the Con, I might go check it out.

  • I will be exhibiting at ComicCon proper so I’ll be missing out on a lot of the Tr!ckster festivities, but I hope in the future they do well enough to open it up to other interested exhibitors and not just a select few. As someone who works independently and self publishes, I would love to have a presence at something like this. I really respect the spirit of this event, but since I spent A LOT of money on a SDCC booth, I hope people will save some of their money for the big exhibit hall. I would feel a lot better about this event if it wasn’t at the exact same time as SDCC and potentially drawing more people away from the showroom floor when it’s hard to compete with all the panels and other distractions as is. In the future, I hope this becomes a viable venue for an independent creator like myself. We need as many ways to get our work out to the public as possible. But, I hope it just isn’t too far in the future and this just becomes yet another distraction.

  • Make no mistake, we hope it doesn’t distract anyone from buying wares in the convention hall, either. Many of our participants have booths in the convention hall and we fully support fans buying at either location. We’re just offering a chance for a different, quieter experience, we hope. We can try to quantify this as competition or companionship, but honestly, we’re focusing on evolution here. We’re focusing on trying to generate some breathing room for artists to have opportunities to sell work (at the con AND at TR!CKSTER in some instances), and to concentrate on progressing as artists on some level by sharing method, technique, theory, and experience in a more focused environment. We’re not aspiring to be a huge showroom or roll-out venue for promoting specifics projects, comics, or films. We’re promoting OURSELVES and how we work. We feel there’s a unique quality to that.

    Come to the San Diego Comic Con, of course. LOVE the con. I’ll be shopping for things there. Shop there, find things to enrich your popular culture there. Come to TR!CKSTER if you want to participate in some focused art and story making endeavors and have a drink, maybe, too.

  • Toonio

    At last an alternative to the comic-con whorehouse!

  • Matt Sullivan

    I like the idea of this. I don’t go to Comic-Con anymore precisely because it’s overcrowded, with less and less emphasis on artists.

  • droosan

    So .. this is a *free* venue during the *same week* as SDCC, right *across the street* from SDCC .. how, exactly, can we expect it to not *also* be ‘overcrowded’..?

    Serious question.

  • James

    I can’t imagine an event like this taking away too much attention from Comic-con. As an artist and visual story teller. I can easily say I would go to both. I would have to be a lot more choosy about when to be at each place depending on events, but if you’re making the long and expensive trip to San Diego that time of year, why not attend both. The two conventions promote two different sides of the spectrum. In my honest opinion it’s akin to adding toppings on an ice cream sundae. The only downside I can see is that it might be that much more difficult to find a hotel nearby, but when hasn’t that been a problem. Hotels will still sell out in a matter of minutes and comic-con will still sell all their tickets at least one to two months before it starts. The con weekend will just be that much more memorable.

  • Anoniguy

    Bay Area artists, San Diego convention?

    …of course.

  • Aesculapius

    While a bit late to the party, with how fast Comic Con sells out I’m sure they are more worried about being more exclusive than competition, lmao. If anything something to get room in the convention center is probably a welcome thing.

  • sam

    The event sounds fun, it’s more art to see! Plus the convention center is planing to add a new building just because of comic con! I love attending an all but a smaller place for independant artist sounds refreshing.

  • I went to the Comic Con event on Thursday night, and it made perfect sense. The people were great and I learned a lot from some cool artists. Highly recommended.