Follow the category links below for our picks for pop culture, comics, music, art, food, drink and fandom events so you can get a taste of San Diego's Comic-Con without a badge — plus a few suggestions for pop culture offerings elsewhere in the region.
COSPLAY/POP CULTURE | PANELS | BOOKS/ZINES | FOOD/DRINK | MOVIES | VISUAL ART | MUSIC
Cosplay and pop culture
The San Diego downtown library will host their annual "Cosplay Repair Station," a DIY-ers respite if you need to fix part of your cosplay gear. You'll find everything from 3D printers to an array of glues to needles and thread — all at the 4th floor Central IDEA Lab from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily during Comic-Con. The library is located at San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., downtown. Free.
Sign up for a Lumon employee orientation in Apple TV+'s "Severance" interactive experience at the Hard Rock Hotel. In the show, employees agree to "sever" their work and personal lives, undergoing an intrusive and mysterious procedure to ensure the most airtight work-life balance possible. Each day, registration opens for limited time slots at 6 a.m., beginning Thursday. RSVP here. Hard Rock Hotel, 207 Fifth Ave., downtown. Free
Cosplay, silent disco and bowling? That's a lot going on, but it's par for the course for Comic-Con. Tavern Bowl will host the first annual "Silent" Bowl Cosplay Competition from 7-11 p.m. on Thursday, with prizes, headphones and live DJs. Tavern Bowl East Village, 930 Market St., downtown. $20-35.
Either dress up as Captain America or come along to people watch at the Army of Captain Americas photoshoot, Sunday at noon at the fountains outside the Marriott. Free.
The closest comic book store to the convention center, Now or Never Comics will host a DC/HBO Harley Quinn takeover beginning Wednesday, including free DC comic giveaways.
Balboa Park is always worth a detour, and the newly opened "Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing" immersive exhibition is only on view until January. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Comic-Con Museum, 2131 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park. $18-30.
The Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians is back at the neighboring downtown library, Wednesday through Sunday. It's free for the public with an RSVP (but Comic-Con badge holders get to skip the RSVP process). Each day is themed, covering the way literacy, comics and pop culture intersect in pedagogy, publishing, libraries and more, though curious comic book fans are welcome and encouraged. Don't miss the panels on banned and challenged books: The publishing panel, "Bans Off Our Books! Responding to Challenges," takes place from 4-5 p.m. on Friday, July 22. The library and school-centric book ban panels run Thursday from 3-5 p.m. At 4 p.m on Saturday, "Intellectual Freedom for Educators," touches on the recent string of laws proposed to restrict topics in classrooms. San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., downtown. Free.
For the budding scientists, catch the IF/THEM Comic-Con Takeover STEAM Fair at the Comic-Con Museum. Highlights include daily coding workshops with Girls Who Code at 11:15, Thursday through Sunday; and "The Science of Spider-Man and the Multiverse" panel discussion from 11:30-12:30 on Saturday. Museum admission required. Comic-Con Museum, 2131 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park. $18-30.
After Comic-Con is over, celebrate the late comic book writer and artist Mark Gruenwald's induction into the Eisner Hall of Fame at this afterparty. Knowhere Games & Comics, 125 Vallecitos De Oro #J, San Marcos. Free.
The Rooftop Cinema Club at the Embarcadero has a triple header of comic-themed movies on Thursday: "Guardians of the Galaxy" at 4 p.m., "Spider-Man: No Way Home" at 7:45 p.m. and "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" at 11 p.m. Plus, "Pulp Fiction" at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday; and on Sunday, at 4:15 celebrate Harry Potter's birthday with "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and the Comic-Con Day screening of "The Dark Night" at 8:15 p.m. Full schedule is here. Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego (4th floor rooftop), 1 Market Place, downtown. $11.75-$25.50.
On Thursday, Digital Gym will screen the 2003 documentary, "Afro-Punk," with director James Spooner in-person for a post-film discussion with moderator Dr. LaWana Richmond. A pre-show panel will also take place at 7 p.m. at Quartyard as part of the Afrofuturism Lounge. Digital Gym, 1100 Market St., downtown. $8-$12.
Books and zines
Immerse yourself in giant sand sculptures and listen to free samples of Audible originals at The Audible Beach, just across from the convention center. Open 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m on Sunday. First Ave. and the Martin Luther King Promenade. Free.
Independent bookstore Libélula Books and SD Zine Fest present a free zine swap from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Libélula Books, 950S. 26th St., Barrio Logan. Free.
Food and drink
The newly opened Gaslamp Lumpia Factory is home to a takeover from the film, "Lumpia with a Vengeance." Events include a screening afterparty at 10 p.m. on Thursday; a pop-up signing from Jayson Atienza from 8-10 p.m. on Friday; and a pop-up signing with Patrick Ballesteros from 8-9 p.m. on Saturday. Gaslamp Lumpia Factory, 423 F St., downtown. Free.
For other snacks, check out the Petco Park Interactive Zone, for the "Hello Kitty Cafe Truck," open from 10-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10-4 p.m. Sunday, or the "Wrath of P'Khan Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck" from 10-6 p.m. (while supplies last) on Saturday. Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd., downtown.
So Cal Comics presents a kick-off party at Society Brewery at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, with the launch of an exclusive Comic-Con themed beer, a makers' market for local creators, free comics from So Cal Comics and more. 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Clairemont. Free.
Chuck Jones, who died in 2002, was a longtime animator, known particularly for Looney Tunes and the creation of characters like Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and many more. Sparks Gallery in the Gaslamp will host a Chuck Jones Pop-up during Comic-Con — including virtual selfies with augmented reality characters, additional pop art in the gallery, and events. Gallery hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11-7 p.m. Saturday and 11-5 p.m. Sunday, with evening programming. Sparks Gallery, 530 Sixth Ave., downtown. Free.
This year, the Afrofuturism Lounge opens 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Quartyard. It correlates with the recently opened exhibition from the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Arts, "The Buses Are Coming," which celebrates the protests of the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to the art, there's music, yoga, meditation, screenings and plenty of discussions — like "Climate Change Through an Afrofuturist Lens," and a discussion on the business side of creativity. Quartyard, 1301 Market Street, downtown/East Village. Free.
The SDCC Art Show takes over the Manchester Grand Hyatt all weekend, with fan-submitted artwork alongside Eisner Award-nominated pieces. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Free.
South Park's Trash Lamb Gallery will open an exhibition of prints (and more) from Katherine Brannock's forthcoming graphic novel series, "The Weikenings." The exhibition is called "Four Letter Words: GIRL," and opens with a reception from 7-10 p.m. Saturday with an animation screening and artist talk at 8 p.m. Trash Lamb Gallery, 2365 30th St., South Park. Free.
Much of the Gaslamp's after-hours music scene involves nightclubs and DJs, but House of Blues has an 18+ option, "Stranger Things Night," dedicated to the soundtrack and musical era of the hit show. 8:30 p.m. Thursday. House of Blues, 1055 5th Ave., downtown. $18-$35.
Aboard the Star of India ship, the "Sea Monster Saloon," involves mai tais, snacks and music from blues and rock group Fish & the Seaweeds. The exhibition, "Sea Monsters: Delving into the Deep Myth" just opened at will also be on view during the event. 5-10 p.m., Saturday. 21+. Maritime Museum of San Diego, 1492 North Harbor Dr., downtown. $40-$50.
Too much sunshine and sunscreen for you? Detox with some dark music from Mexicali post-punk act Silent. Sharing the bill are the genre-defying Planet B and theatrical doom metal performer D.Wrex at the Casbah, Thursday at 9:30 p.m. $12. Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., midtown.
Note: Some offsite events follow Comic-Con's COVID-19 policy, and may require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test, as well as masks.
For more offsite events, visit the KPBS Comic-Con events calendar.