'Arctic Fox' and 'Classic Fox' by Jeff Pidgeon - Photo by Susan Myrland
Comic-Con satellite event Tr!ckster has moved to a new location and it fits like a good pair of bowling shoes. Now in its third year, the Berkeley-based promoter of creator-owned work has set up shop in the East Village Tavern + Bowl at the corner of Ninth and Market streets.
"You can bowl, you can draw, you can drink, you can eat," Tr!ckster cofounder Anita Coulter explains. "Our space is bigger and it looks slicker. It's easier to find than last year. The third time really is a charm."
Tr!ckster is a blend of retail store, art gallery, mini-conference, networking event and life-drawing class. Each morning begins with a seminar on topics such as storytelling and toymaking, while the afternoons are for book signings and art demonstrations (most events are free; tickets are required for the seminars. Check the Tr!ckster website for schedule and pricing).
The party cranks up after dark. Against a backdrop of bar-friendly dance music, aspiring cartoonists practice their skills in free "Pen & Drink" sessions while shoppers browse books, toys and prints. Sales were good on the first night, partly because Tr!ckster opened an hour before Comic-Con.
Photo by Susan Myrland
"We got slammed," Coulter says. "We sold $600 in the first hour. People are buying bigger-ticket items like large prints. It's a much brisker business than last year."
New items for sale include "The Arctic Fox," a custom-designed toy by Jeff Pidgeon, and an anthology of illustrated short stories, Childhood Heroes. Also new is a partnership with local gallery Space4Art (325 15th St.), which is hosting a free exhibition of more than 100 of Tr!ckster's affiliated artists. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the exhibition will be on display through Saturday.
Back at the Tavern, artists and fans chat. Boxes of drawing supplies are scattered around and the booths are filled with people hunched over sketchbooks. A cosplayer dressed as Pedobear breaks away from his friends to dance for a few minutes, returning to pull off his bear head and take a drink. It's the kind of casual artist-fan interaction that can be difficult to find in the crush of Comic-Con. It's the opposite of the big Hollywood displays at the Convention Center. It's very indie.
As Coulter says, "The best part of Tr!ckster is discovering artists you've never heard of."