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Don't have a badge for this year's Comic-Con? There's still all sorts of cinematic fun to be found by wandering the streets of San Diego

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Don't have a badge for this year's Comic-Con? There's still all sorts of cinematic fun to be found by wandering the streets of San Diego

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I know, I know. You don't have tickets for Comic-Con this year. Which means that you can't partake in all of the cool, pop cultural stuff that's going on down in San Diego right now. And that's making you blue, right?

Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

Well ... What if I were to tell that that's not entirely true?

Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved

I mean, sure. If you want to do something like meet Michael Giacchino (i.e., the guy who won an Academy Award for Best Original Score back in 2009 for "Up." Not to mention handling the musical end of things for Pixar's "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," & "Inside Out"; Marvel Studios' "Dr. Strange" & "Spider-Man: Homecoming"; Lucasfilm's "Rogue One" and Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Zootopia." To name just a few of the movies that Michael has worked on), then you definitely need to have an official attendee badge.

Without one of those babies, this event's crack Security team won't even allow you to enter the San Diego Convention Center. Which means that there's just no way that you'll be able to get to the Disney Music Emporium AKA Comic-Con Booth No. 4049. Which is where Giacchino will be signing stuff from 1 - 2:30 p.m. today & tomorrow.

Likewise Berkeley Breathed. If you want to meet the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist behind "Bloom County (who's supposed to be signing a Comic-Con exclusive hardcover at IDW Comics - Booth #2743 - between 11 a.m. & 12 noon today), that's going to require an official attendee badge. Which completely sold out just 75 minutes after they went on sale back in early April.

Copyright Berkeley Breathed. All rights reserved

But here's the thing: Over the past 10 years or so, San Diego Comic-Con has gotten so big that it has actually outgrown this city's waterfront convention center and its 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. Which is what then led to the creation of the Comic-Con Campus concept. Which means that - in order to try & accommodate the 130,000+ people who purchased badges to this 4 & ½ day-long event - San Diego Comic-Con has now spread out to all sorts of satellite locations around the city. And since some of these venues are public places like outdoor parks ... Well, you don't necessarily need a badge to now take part in the fun.

Case in point: That "Fear of the Walking Dead" signing which will be held on MLK Plaza tomorrow between 12 noon - 1 p.m. There's be at least seven cast members from this hit AMC series who are currently scheduled to meet with fans of this "Walking Dead" spin-off. And since this particular event is being held outdoors away from the San Diego Convention Center, the public is more than welcome to participate.

Likewise The LAIKA Experience. Which actually set up shop in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter back on July 14th. Several days before the first conventioneers arrived in town to attend the (if you can believe it) 48th annual Comic-Con.

Copyright LAIKA. All rights reserved

"And what will folks find when they enter that storefront at 520 Fifth Avenue?," you ask. This pop-up exhibit that's just loaded with items that were used in the production of various LAIKA films.  We're talking puppets, props, sets and monsters from "Coraline," "ParaNorman," "The BoxTrolls" and "Kubo and the Two Strings." Not to mention some pretty amazing fan art as well a choice selection of LAIKA-inspired merch.

In fact, this Oregon-based animation studio brought down so much stuff down to San Diego to display at this year's Comic-Con that The LAIKA Experience has begun to spill out into the street. So don't be surprised if - as you're walking around the Gaslamp Quarter - you then bump into a few costumed walkaround characters from their films.

By the way, if you'd like to get some sense of what it's like to visit The LAIKA Experience, today between 2 - 3 p.m. PT, LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight will be on Facebook Live. Knight will be joined by New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi. And together, Travis & Tony will take FB guests on a virtual tour of all the displays found within this storefront. Immediately after this Facebook Live event wraps up, an autograph session with Knight is slated to begin. He'll be on hand at 520 Fifth Avenue from 3 - 4:30 p.m. to sign any merchandise that was purchased at the LAIKA Experience

I know that this is a photo from this year's D23 EXPO, rather than San Diego
Comic-Con 2017. But I wanted to show the sort of witty, timely outfits
cosplayers can sometimes put together. Using Yondu's "I'm Mary
Poppins, y'all !" line from Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the
Galaxy: Vol. 2" as her jumping-off point, here's Disney's
Practically Perfect Nanny reimagined as a Ravager.
Photo by Jim Hill

And as you wander through San Diego's downtown area, you'll encounter other cinematic displays that have somehow managed to spill out into the street. Things like Warner Brothers' 12,800 square foot "Blade Runner 2049" exhibit (which comes complete with a neon-lit futuristic LA street scene) or Amazon's "Tick" pavilion, which features a 20 foot-tall animatronic tick head. And let's not forget about those thousands of cosplayers who are currently in town. Many of whom will be happy to pose for photographs as they show off their elaborate outfits.

In short, to paraphrase a famous line from 1948's "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (Which - while not exactly political correct - is still kind of appropriate. What with San Diego being just 18 miles north of the Mexican border and all), you really don't need a stinking badge in order to have fun at this year's Comic-Con. All you really need is a pair of comfortable shoes, some sharp eyes, and the will to see what wild & wonderful thing might be around the next corner as you walk around this currently-very-crowded-but-still-really-beautiful Southern California city.

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, July 21, 2017

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