Approaching the front steps are little tables where spirited debate is taking place, in the workshop area David Mack (Kabuki), Steve Leialoha (Fables), Dave Crosland amongst others are sketching live models on drawing easels. Earlier in the evening Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and Pixar artist Scott Morse (Strange Science Fantasy) put a comic together in two hours. Guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman) later came by with his guitar for an impromptu concert. With three more days of Comic-Con International remaining, who knows what else Trickster will inspire?
Across Harbor Drive and the train tracks in front of the convention center, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center has been converted into a place where people who love comics, and more importantly, creator-owned comics, can gather to take creative workshops, buy works from a sampling of the industry’s best, and grab a cocktail or two while they talk about what else, comics, or anything else that comes to mind. This is Trickster.
With the invasion of television and film increasing its footprint at Comic-Con International, Trickster is doing its best to keep the spirit of creating comic books burning brightly. Morse and fellow Pixar artist Ted Mathot championed and organized Trickster and with clever programming, exclusive and unique swag designed by equally unique artists, it is a success from an experience aspect. We’ll find out later whether or not it was financially successful enough to return in 2012.
The list of artists, cartoonists, and writers involve include Scott Campbell, Enrico Casarosa, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Mike Huddleston, Sam Kieth, Andy Kuhn, Morse, Mack, Austin Madison, Greg Ruth, Paul Pope, Jim Mahfood, Jill Thompson, Eric Skillman, Ted Mathot, and Mike Mignola just to name a few.
I paid to attend the early evening symposium where Niles and Morse create an 8-page comic in two hours. Niles communicated a short story inspired by a conversation he had with his girlfriend while Morse used a Cintiq drawing tablet and Photoshop to digitally “inked” and colored three of the pages, broke down the layouts of three more and explained the last two that he visualized in his head. It was a dizzying and awesome display of Morse’s fluid method and collaboration with Niles that they used to create 160 pages of finished pages for their upcoming book, Crime and Terror. The open classroom generated a positive vibe, and allowed creatives of all levels an alternative solution at solving creative problems. The time allotted gave Niles and Morse to answer questions, and to show much more than what the average classroom at Comic-Con allows in it s jam-packed schedule. It’s like space camp for budding comic creators expert or novice.
Symposiums run day and night at Trickster, but it’s got plenty more to browse in case all you want to do is buy high quality comics by talented creators that you may or may not have heard of. That’s right, you may have to pick up a physical graphic novel, thumb through it and see if you like it. No iPads, no lines to wait, or flash photography, just genuine engaging celebration of independent visions. There are exclusive Trickster prints, T-shirts, limited beverage glasses to be collected, and daily cocktail specials to be tried.
Response has been genuinely positive with industry professionals and attendees agreeing that Trickster is just what the doctor ordered at a convention that is quickly loosing the pure comic book fan. Even Morello was there because he was celebrating his upcoming Dark Horse comic, Orchid which he is writing and will release an original song in each issue of the comic for the soundtrack.
Hopefully, with enough interest, there could be a repeat of Trickster at Comic-Con in 2012; it’s not seen as a replacement of Comic-Con, just an extension of one arm of what the pop culture convention has evolved into. It’s just a shame that the original intent of Comic-Con seems lost in the shuffle. There is no other domestic comic convention that offers as much comics-based programming, but yet it seemingly still gets overshadowed by TV, film and video games by the most casual attendee.
As a comics reader and fan, Trickster captures that original feeling of Comic-Con that was felt in the 80′s and 90′s. With almost half of the convention over, Trickster is the one thing that continually raised my eyebrows this week, expanded the experience that fans can have with comic creators and that has given me something to remember, and restores some hope that Comic-Con is still a comic convention. Let’s hope that Trickster continues to grow momentum and scope so that at least one spot during Comic-Con, comics are the only thing that matters.
To find out more about Trickster, visit its website at: http://trickstertrickster.com