As part of the growing creator-owned comics activism (and perhaps as a response to the increasingly extra-comics nature of Comic-Con International), a large group of comics writers and artists have conspired to created TR!CKSTER, a multi-purpose event and retail space across the street from the San Diego Convention Center, site of this summer's massive comics convention. The purpose of TR!CKSTER is to provide creators and fans with a free venue in which to purchase comics and other products, enjoy art galleries and music, and take part in various symposia. The initiative opens July 19 and runs all through the week of Comic-Con at San Diego's Wine and Culinary Center.TR!CKSTER is an ambitious attempt to engage comics readers in not just creator-owned work, but in the creative community itself.

We here at TR!CKSTER seek to entertain on all levels, and BE entertained in the process. To do this we feel that the creators of the work and the audience must form and protect a bond. The protection of this bond becomes more integral, powerful, and important as the work grows and evolves in the hearts and minds of the audience and the creators. Now, for a work to grow and evolve–for a story to form and connect and resonate, or for an image to last in the mind of the viewer–the creator must feel a freedom to create. Input and comment on the world of the creator should only be taken BY the creator if the creator sees fit. After all, worlds cannot come alive without a unique vision. To water down a vision is to rob the audience of entertainment. Too many cooks can spoil the broth.

TR!CKSTER will take the form of a 4,500 square foot gallery and nightclub atmosphere. In addition to commercial activity, visitors will be able to enjoy alcoholic beverages, DJs, live performances by bands including Kirby Krackle and Michael Allred's Gear, among others, and film screenings. Unlike the convention floor, there will be no booths and TR!CKSTER will be open to the public for free (but the symposia will be ticketed).

We hope you'll plan to come and experience TR!CKSTER's first incarnation this summer. We seek to offer you a haven where you can enter freely, discover and enjoy original art and wares you'll find in few other places, to partake in a cocktail and mingle with the makers of these worlds, and possibly to learn from them, if you're open to it. We at TR!CKSTER believe that you can NEVER stop learning, no matter your age or experience. To close yourself to new ways of thinking is pure folly. We're fools, surely, and we'll make mistakes on our journey here, but we'll have fun in the process, and we WILL learn and laugh and meet and be merry. No booths will keep us apart. We'll seek to disperse the lines and throngs of mania. We'll hope to relax and enjoy and remember why we do this. Are you with us?

Among the presentations will be Skottiescott: Live, a visual storytelling lesson featuring comics artists Skottie Young and Scott Morse; Crime and Terror: Live, a short story instructional hosted by Steve Niles and Scott Morse, who will create from scratch an original comic book; a horror-based symposium featuring Bernie Wrightson, Steve Niles, Scott Morse, Craig Yoe and more; a page-to-screen lecture that promises to be a "no-holds-barred" discussion of the business of comics-to-film; and many more fascinating topics.

In support of the endeavor, a TR!CKSTER hardcover art book will be made exclusively at the event. Measuring 9" x 12", 48 pages (with eight blanks to fill with original art from the assembled creators), the book will be available for $20 and limited to 1,000 copies. Contributing artists include Mike Mignola, Scott Morse, Doug Tennapel, Scottie Young, Andy Kuhn, Jim Mahfood, Mike Allred & Laura Allred, David Mack, Mike Huddleston and many more.

For more details and news as Comic-Con approaches, stay tuned to the TR!CKSTER website.

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