“Comic-Con is the one time of the year when all nerds can set aside their personal opinions and focus on their petty differences … ”
Cheers, kittens! ‘Tis July and that means Comic-Con in these here parts! Final touches to costumes, triple-confirming hotel reservations, extra days at the gym and squirreling away all the forgotten pocket-dough you find doing laundry. Oh, wait … how rude of me. You didn’t get a badge? You’re not attending San Diego Comic-Con (San Diego Convention Center, July 21 – 24, 2016)? Oh, dear. Well, in that case …
So, dear reader. Did Badge Quest vanquish you, again? La pauvre. Forget to pre-reg after last year’s Con, so you could at least have the opportunity to be vanquished early on this year, as quickly and easily as a paladin with zero-invisibility? Registered eventually, woke up crazy-early on open-reg, massacre morning, yet still missed out, even on Sunday badges? What a loser. (JK. Not really. K, maybe. No, jk.) In the end, perhaps you just don’t give a f^%$, but someone you really care about does. However it plays out, come the third week in July you are stuck in downtown San Diego with hours to kill, but no badge. Now what?
Yours Truly (and my supa con-cohort Dr. Lucy) has been very fortunate to have regularly obtained badges, by varied manner of acquisition. (Yes, even ghosts need badges. That’s how bonkers this pop culture phenomenon is.) Whilst a number of folk I know find interest in the Con, none enough to do the early footwork themselves: a mere velliety with no effort. Further, I believe the innate coveting comes more because they may not have a badge, rather than a crushing desire to see a panel with the entire Chanel-cast of Scream Queens, or nab an SDCC-exclusive, Star Trek Barbie. What assuages the unbadged best? Assuring them there is almost as much to do outside the Convention Center, in what is popularly known as The Comic-Con Campus, as inside the Con. (Heh heh. No, there isn’t really; but it’s kind to let them know there’s summat they can do whilst they’re waiting patiently until you join them for après-Con drinkies.)
Luckily for the unbadged, San Diego’s downtown is host to myriad entertainment, even in non-Con times. (Whaaaat? Non-Con times? What is this arid, desert existence of which you speak?!) Walking distance from the San Diego Convention Center – providing you’re mildly healthy – gives you a breadth of activity: Gaslamp District and Horton Plaza bars, restaurants, shops and galleries, and the Waterfront’s harbourside diversions, like Seaport Village, Star of India (1863, still-seaworthy sailing ship), East Village and Little Italy.
A short drive or ferry ride proffers more divertissements. Natch, my fave nearby haunt is The Hotel del Coronado and its luxurious, beachside enclave of Coronado Island: one-time home to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) author L. Frank Baum, and location for Marilyn Monroe signature-flick, Some Like It Hot (1959). Ferries scoot across the bay every half-hour to/from Coronado at the Convention Center Landing (5th Ave.), and hourly at the Broadway Pier Landing (N. Harbor Dr.): same regularity on return trips at Coronado Landing. (Be smart! Verify Flagship Cruises ferry schedule during the Con.)
If a grand Victorian resort – world’s first to have electricity, in 1904 – , quaint island shopping and multi-million-dollar beach houses aren’t your cup o’ cuppa, try Point Loma. Point Loma, too, boasts multi-million-dollar beach houses, yet it is also home to San Diego Comic Art Gallery, IDW Publishing and Stone Brewing Bistro (host of Hop-Con 4.0, a beery, hoppy alternative to SDCC Preview Night: Wed. July 20th at 5:00p.m.). All three establishments are housed at Liberty Station, a former U.S. Naval Base-turned-unique shopping/dining/work atmos.
Like Alice in Wonderland, if all this noise is screaming at you, cross-armed this-a-way that-a-way, there is a safe place: OutsideComicCon has your 411. Be ye unbadged, or badged-but-bored after the con doors close, OCC has plenty of suggestions, nicely organized and detailed at their site: from Conan at Spreckles Theater (likely no tix left), to Comedy Bang! Bang! Live! at The Irenic; from Gam3rcon at New School, to Magic the Gathering tourneys at the Marriott; from Star Trek‘s makeup-collection debut at MAC Cosmetics, to Star Trek: Beyond film premiere at the Embarcadero; from Suicide Squad at the Hard Rock, to Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque at Brick by Brick … phew, there’s far too much to cite here! Please, visit their 2016 Events page, kids!
If you desire a more serene escape, a respite far from the madding crowd, but still smack dab in the middle of it all, Daffy Duck into Chuck Jones Gallery on Fifth Ave., in the Gaslamp. Set in a light, cool and welcoming brick space, the gallery serves as either museum or dream boutique, depending upon one’s cabbage count. The gallery boasts original works on paper and canvas, as well as cels, sculpture, lithographs and limited edition copies of not only Chuck Jones and Warner Bros. delights, but also Disney, Marvel Comics, Dr. Seuss and Peanuts (Charles Schulz, Bill Melendez and contempo, Peanuts-interpretive artist Tom Everhart). Geoff Hampton, an affable and patient CJG art consultant, was happy to field numerous questions and displayed none of the condescending strain so commonly oozing from other gallery folk. Mr. Hampton informed Moi the gallery enthusiastically engages a Comic-Conesque overlay during SDCC, highlighting their Marvel works, keeping well in tune with the vibe of our Con.
Beyond highlighting Marvel Comics, Chuck Jones Gallery will be hosting a slew of pen-and-inky events for the duration of SDCC: guest artists include Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons), James C. Mulligan (Disney), Rodel Gonzales (Star Wars) and, wait for it … Stan Lee and William Shatner (both of freaking awesomeness inc!). For a full schedule of talks, signings and exhibits, visit SDCC Unofficial Blog.
(Please note the gallery does not have a space within the Convention Center; so, be certain to seek them out, badged or not! Re: artist events, please call 619.294.9880 to RSVP.)
Of course, the overwhelmingly popular, just-waiting-for-my-fill-in-the-blank activity is drinking and strolling in the Gaslamp. (Not simultaneously, though. This ain’t New Orleans, kittens!) For you drinkers, caveat emptor, I say! Beware tavernkeeps promising Con-deals. If they can slither into your Apple Pay, they will. (Of course, there are a number of proper deals around town, if you show your badge. Curses! the unbadged declare. Foiled again!) Moreover, whatever you pay, wherever you drink, find thee a taxi, an Uber, a Lyft, a shuttle, a trolley, a train, a spaceship, a landspeeder, a Tron lightcycle, a royal sedan-chair: whatever it takes to get home, or back to your hotel, safely.
As far as the crowds, (Ohh, Jebus, the crowds!) be nice and superduper patient. Don’t poke strangers with your parasol (guilty); if you do, apologize profusely. Hold onto your purse, not to mention your bippy. Say Pardon me, no matter how tired you get of saying it (and you will, after the hundredth time bumping into someone). Hold doors for folks, say After you! often, but don’t hold up the line. Compliment congoers’ costumes, as we spend an awful lot of thought, time and money on them; and save the snark and criticism for … never. Just be nice. My tried and true, popular, SDCC 2014 post, “Boobs Are Not Bunnies“, should help.
See? Even though Bellatrix just killed Sirius, she’s still superduper smiley and polite. SDCC 2014. Photo: JSDevore
Abyssinia on the Con Floor, Kids!
Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?