Comic book store with convention roots opens in Berkeley

Dean Ignacio/Staff
TR!CKSTER is a new comic book store, located on 2631 Ashby Ave.

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A new comic book store selling original pop culture art will open Tuesday on Ashby Avenue.

TR!CKSTER — located at 2631 Ashby Ave. — will operate dually as an art convention and a store selling creator-owned original artwork such as comics, books and toys. The venue, which features a full gallery and bar, will also serve as a meeting place for acclaimed artists and avid fans by hosting live events and workshops.

“For me, it’s about creating a living environment for not only artists to flourish and find an audience but also to include those audiences and inspire them to create their own,” said Scott Morse, co-founder and Pixar storyboard artist.

Morse founded TR!CKSTER with puppeteer Anita Coulter and fellow Pixar artist Ted Mathot in 2011, displaying “pop-up” shows in San Diego.

“I get to do what I love at Pixar with a cadre of the most talented people in the world,” Morse said. “It’s that spirit, that culture — that’s the sort of thing that TR!CKSTER is ripe to harvest and help spread.”

In the past two years, TR!CKSTER convened at the same time and across the street from the annual San Diego Comic-Con International — one of the largest comic book and pop art conventions in the world.

Regular TR!CKSTER customer Chris Smit said the store was created  out of frustration with the massive commercialization of Comic-Con. Smit now has high hopes for TR!CKSTER’s success in Berkeley.

“The entire TR!CKSTER crew has great taste in products,” Smit said in an email. “You match that up with the heartfelt commitment they give to the arts, and I predict amazing things from them.”

Jeffrey Carter, manager of Fantastic Comics on Shattuck Avenue, said the new venue may increase business in Berkeley from people buying comics to get them autographed by artists who visit TR!CKSTER.

“I very much agree with this and am looking forward to it — having a beer and sitting and talking to these amazing artists,” Carter said.

TR!CKSTER, which was originally located in a wine pub adjacent to the San Diego Comic-Con, will maintain its characteristic ambiance in Berkeley with a full-fledged stock of beverages.

Coulter said the store’s founders relocated the venue to establish a permanent residence in a town with a strong sense of community and eclectic art taste.

Though TR!CKSTER previously operated through annual temporary pop-up art shows and storytelling workshops, Morse said the new store symbolizes a focal hub for creative talent to live year-round.

“I’m just excited and heartened to see that there’s a community out there clamoring for unique and original work,” Morse said. “It’s all about that basic human need to communicate what’s in your head and your heart.”

Contact Virgie Hoban at [email protected].