As Comic-Con grows in popularity, so do the options for those who couldn't score a badge. Each year brings more parties, pop-ups, zombie walks and just plain weirdness.
The core of the universe is the San Diego Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter, but you can find events from Escondido to Eastlake. We've included a few that hold up to the Bechdel Test, or, at least, come close to involving more than one woman. For more, check the CityBeat events calendar, the SDCC Unofficial Blog and Outside Comic-Con. There's even a Facebook page aptly called San Diego Comic-Con Off Site Events 2014. Holy watershed!
Fans of the Canadian sci-fi TV series Orphan Black are multiplying before our eyes. They'll gather for a CloneClub Meetup at Southpaw Social (815 J St., Downtown) from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, July 25. Come as your favorite character or get a Cosima makeover. Enjoy a Helena Buffet (there should be Jell-O) and dancing. Free. orphanblack.tumblr.com
We have a massive girl crush on Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry, the YouTube series created by Day and her producing partners Kim Evey and Sheri Bryant. Smart, funny and solidly indie, Geek & Sundry will set up shop at Jolt'n Joe's Bar & Restaurant (379 Fourth Ave., Downtown) on July 24 and 25. Enjoy a gaming lounge, previews of new shows and parties. Day events are allages, parties 21-andolder. Free. geekandsundry.com
Chuck Jones Gallery (232 Fifth Ave., Downtown) has a full schedule of activities, including art demos, signings and visits with legendary animators. Of special note is Girls Drawin' Girls, a collaborative of women artists redefining the art of the pin-up. Join their party from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 24. It's free and all-ages, but there will be an open bar, so RSVPs are strongly recommended. Artwork from Girls Drawin' Girls and 6 Point Harness studios can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., July 23 through July 27. girlsdrawingirls.com, facebook.com/ChuckJonesGallery
The San Diego Symphony has three nights of Con-themed performances, beginning Thursday, July 24, with "Video Games Live," music set to synchronized lighting and onstage game playing. Friday, July 25, features "Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton," including the scores from Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Batman. Saturday, July 26, has a widescreen showing of J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek film reboot with the symphony playing the soundtrack live and appearances by composer Michael Giacchino and actor John Cho (Sulu). Performances begin at 8 p.m. at Embarcadero Marina Park South. sandiegosymphony.org.
Speaking of Burton, there'll be a costume walkabout from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 25, featuring characters from Burton films and coordinated by cosplay veteran Lady Mari. The walkabout is free and all-ages. Contact email@example.com to join. costumewalkabout.weebly.com, sandiegosymphony.org
The Zombie Walk is a Comic-Con tradition. Beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26, zombies gather at 180 First Ave., Downtown, to lurch, stagger, crawl and flop their way through the Gaslamp. You know, like a typical Saturday night. Free and all ages. Search Facebook for 8th Annual SDCC Zombiewalk.
Quite the opposite of zombie shambling, The Assassin's Creed Experience promises a "huge French Revolution-inspired parkour course" across from the Convention Center. Parkour pros will help you scale rooftops, vault over walls and survive a 25-foot Leap of Faith. Zombie parkour, anyone? assassinscreed.ubi.com
SuicideGirls, the celebration of alternative beauty and outsider women, holds a geek fantasy show, Blackheart Burlesque, at House of Blues (1055 Fifth Ave., Downtown) on Saturday, July 26. There will be many pop-culture references and lots of skin. Doors open at midnight; show starts at 12:45 a.m. 18 and up. $30-$80. blackheartburlesque.com.
And at Rebecca's Coffeehouse (3015 Juniper St., South Park), songstress Marian Call puts on her annual Comic-Con "Geek Girl" show, this one featuring Molly Lewis. It's free, but an RSVP's required—search for the event at eventbrite.com.
Here's a quick round-up of more offsite events that don't require a badge: Get the closest thing to a Con experience at the Petco Park Interactive Zone, run away from zombies in the Walking Dead Escape, test out an Oculus Rift in the Sleepy Hollow Virtual Reality Experience and ride the Gotham Zipline from the Hilton Bayfront Hotel to the Convention Center (fox.com/comic-con-2014). Stare down a 24-foot-tall Godzilla on the lawn behind the Convention Center (sdccblog.com), catch a panel discussion and game demos at Nerd HQ or get even more gamey at Gam3rcon.
For Chris Hardwick fans, there's Nerdist Podcast Live! at the Balboa Theater (7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26). See an exhibition of horror icon Clive Barker's erotic artwork at Alexander Salazar Fine Art (1040 Seventh Ave., Downtown, opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 25). And over at Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts, there's Art of the Geek, a tribute to "artists who have re-imagined the icons of pop culture" (363 Fifth Ave., Downtown, opening reception 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 23; on view through Sunday). Both Space4Art and the Wonder Bread Factory will also have Con-themed art on display.
Or just settle into a Gaslamp café, sip a superhero-themed cocktail and watch the crowd. It's the best entertainment—anytime, anywhere.