Un-Con-Strained

It's that time of year again, when hordes of hardcore geeks swarm the streets of the Gaslamp to celebrate countless shades of pop culture. But, seeing as tickets to this year's Comic-Con International sold out faster than the Flash can fire off knuckle-babies, throngs of wannabe conventioneers are left looking to blogs to find out what they missed in Hall H.

Fortunately for them, Comic-Con is a state of mind that can't be contained by the Convention Center's walls. Dozens of themed events - which don't require a coveted admission badge - are cropping up across the county. Here's a glimpse of options for nerds without all-access passes.

ART EVENTS

7/21-24 Star Trek: 50 Artists, 50 Years Art Exhibit
Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts
363 Fifth Ave., Ste. 102, Gaslamp
StarTrek50Art.com

Trekkies unite at this exhibit celebrating half a century of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Featuring creations by 50 international painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists - including one piece by Leonard "Spock" Nimoy himself - this show is guaranteed to delight those seeking to boldly go see art.

7/23 Heroes vs. Villains Art Exhibition
La Bodega Gallery
2196 Logan Ave., Logan Heights
instagram.com/labodegagallery

Showcasing more than 80 creations inspired by Star Wars characters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and both DC and Marvel universes (among other famous franchises), this annual exhibit highlights the heroes and ne'er-do-wells who've influenced generations of artists.

BEER EVENTS

7/21 Hop-Con 4.0: The w00tStout Festival
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
2816 Historic Decatur Rd., Ste. 116
Liberty Station
stonebrewing.com/hopcon

Beer geeks and nerds of all stripes are invited to attend Stone's yearly sip-fest, now bigger and better than before. Including scads of casks, old-school arcade games and more pour stations than Marvel has Avengers, this event also marks the debut of the famous brewery's latest w00tstout, with 100 percent of proceeds helping the Hero Initiative.

7/22 Comic-Con Brews Cruise
1800 North Harbor Dr.
Marina District
socalbrewscruise.com

Nerdy hopheads are advised to hop aboard this three-hour tour of the Harbor, where '90s cover band Sega Genacide will amplify limitless tastings from Stone, Belching Beaver, the Great Divide and Reverend Nat Cider. And, for GoT fans, a special tasting of Ommegang's Game of Thrones brews will also be on tap.

7/23 Heroes Brew Craft Beer Festival
Waterfront Park
1600 Pacific Hwy., Downtown
heroesbrewfest.com

With more than 100 craft beers flowing from 40-plus breweries, this is one event fiction fanatics shouldn't miss. Toss in lively music, the Caped Crusader Costume Contest and the fact that proceeds benefit the Warrior Foundation, and there's no reason not to dress like Batman and attend the fermented festival.

COMEDY PODCASTS

7/20 Doug Loves Movies
American Comedy Co.
818 Sixth Ave., Gaslamp
americancomedyco.com

Celebrated stoner and film fanatic Doug Benson returns to his sweet home San Diego - along with a handful of other cinema-savvy comedians - to record another installment of his long-running and much-loved podcast/game show. Bring a punny, homemade movie poster for your chance to win a prize bag that includes contributions from Doug's celebrity guests.

7/21 Fatman on Batman / Jay & Silent Bob Get Old
American Comedy Co.
818 Sixth Ave., Gaslamp,
americancomedyco.com

Famed filmmaker, portly podcaster and the ironically verbose half of the Jay & Silent Bob comedy duo returns to America's Finest to record Con-themed episodes of his wildly popular, cinema-centric audio programs.

7/22 Comedy Bang! Bang! Live
The Irenic
3090 Polk Ave., North Park
theirenic.com

Join Scott Aukerman, the quirky podcast host of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, for an improvisational performance to include celebrity guests and possibly Aukerman's new bandleader, "Weird Al" Yankovic.

7/23 Nerdist Podcast Live!
Balboa Theatre
868 Fourth Ave., Downtown
sandiegotheatres.org

Comedian, TV host and Comic-Con fixture Chris Hardwick returns to San Diego for a requisite recording of his highly popular podcast, which will feature special guests guaranteed to drive geeks wild.

COSPLAY

7/23 Starburner Awards and Steampunk Meetup
111 West Harbor Dr., Marina District
facebook.com/StarburnerCouriers

Steampunkers from all walks of life are encouraged to check out this one-of-a-kind awards ceremony honoring innovators who've made remarkable contributions to this alternative-reality subculture that says "no thanks" to electricity because steam-powered gadgets are more impressive.

7/24 Harleypalooza
Location: TBA
facebook.com/harleypalooza

Admirers and aficionados of the Joker's deranged girlfriend convene at this annual cosplay confab that includes a photoshoot of the jester-like jezebel who figures prominently in the forthcoming film, Suicide Squad, which features this magazine's cover model, Scott Eastwood (see "Son of a Gun," page 58).

7/23 Marvel International Photoshoot
Convention Center steps
avengershq.com

Avengers assemble at this outdoor photo-op featuring hundreds of the Marvel Universe's best-known adventurers and antagonists.

7/21-23 Suicide Squad - Belle Reve Penitentiary
Hard Rock Hotel
207 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp,
bitly.com/dcsquad

Do some time in the slammer featured in this summer's cinematic thrill ride, Suicide Squad, and visit Harley Quinn's tattoo shop in an out-of-this-world virtual-reality experience.

PARTIES

7/21 w00tStock 8.0: A Night of Geeks & Music
Balboa Theatre, Gaslamp
sandiegotheatres.org/w00tstock8.0

Neophytic nerds and dyed-in-the-wool dorks are sure to enjoy this salute to esoteric entertainment (hosted by retired Mythbuster Adam Savage and rhapsodic comedians Paul & Storm), which is billed as a can't-miss celebration for those who equate geekiness with greatness.

7/22 Ghostbusters Mass Hysteria Fan Party
Werewolf
627 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp
facebook.com/realtampabayghostbusters

From Slimer to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, this celebration of the classic and modern Ghostbusters movies is sure to please fans of the frighteningly fun films that beg that question, "Who you gonna call?"

7/22-23 SuicideGirls: Blackheart Burlesque Tour
Brick by Brick
1130 Buenos Ave., Bay Park
blackheartburlesque.com

With gaggles of hard-up geeks in town, good luck scoring a seat at this risqué revue that includes striptease shows based on Star Wars, Fifty Shades of Grey and A Clockwork Orange, among other fan favorites and cult classics.

MUSIC

7/21 Final Fantasy Symphony
Copley Symphony Hall
750 B St., Gaslamp
ffsymphony.com

Fans of the voluminous Final Fantasy video games can take their obsession to new heights by grabbing seats at this award-winning orchestral performance that includes tracks from the series' bestselling installments.

7/22 The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Master Quest
Copley Symphony Hall
750 B St., Gaslamp
zeldasymphony.com

San Diego's Symphony Orchestra entertains concertgoers with an unrivaled rendition of soundtracks from Nintendo's nearly 30-year-old franchise, which forever changed the face of video games.

7/23 Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera
Tenth Avenue Arts Center
930 Tenth Ave., East Village
onceuponatimespoof.com

Fans of ABC's popular series Once Upon a Time are invited to partake in this spoofy singalong featuring fictional pariahs and oodles of artwork based on the hit show.

GAMES

7/21-24 Gam3rCon 2016
Tenth Avenue Arts Center
930 Tenth Ave., East Village
gam3rcon.com

Revel in four floors of video and tabletop games while also enjoying art, a rooftop party and Q&As with industry insiders at San Diego's foremost gaming gathering.

7/23 Underground Lightsaber Fighters Battle
Balboa Park Fountain, Balboa Park,
ulfsandiego.com

Jedi Masters can take part in this monthly lightsaber challenge that coincides with the Con. While the tournament itself is meant for "serious" fighters only, guests from galaxies far, far away are more than welcome to witness the action and try to win tournament prizes including carefully crafted illuminated weapons.

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