Arrive in town early? Beer nerds (and regular nerds) have their pick of several beer-related fests coinciding with Comic-Con (although sadly there’s yet to be a butterbeer event). Hop-Con 5.0 -- aka the annual “w00tStout festival” -- runs at Stone Brewing Liberty Station on Wednesday the 19th from 7pm to 11pm. Expect plenty of rare beers and, of course, flights of the eponymous Drew Curtis/Wil Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout from the past five years.
If that’s not a savage enough way to get your wheat on, the following night sees W00tstock 9.0. The annual SDCC kick-off party hosted by Adam Savage from Mythbusters and comedic musical duo Paul and Storm is Thursday, July 20 at 7pm at the Balboa Theater in Gaslamp District. Kids are welcome. Dementors are not.
Hard Rock Cafe San Diego is running a weekend-long comic book drive for members of the United States Marine Corps serving abroad. The first 300 donors get a free “True Hero VIP” lanyard so you have a conversation piece to say, “Oh, this? No, I’m not a hero. But I’ll tell you who the real heroes are…” Comic books first reached full popularity in World War II when they were sent to members of the armed forces overseas so it’s nice to see someone carrying on the tradition for a good cause.
Sam J. Jones is an actor, Marine, CEO of his own security firm, and savior of the universe Flash Gordon. But on Friday night his latest role will be guest bartending for you at San Diego’s oldest bar, The Waterfront. Tip: Don’t sing Queen to get his attention, but do flash your “I sent comics to the Marines” lanyard, and everyone will have a good time. Once you’ve got your drank, dance all through the ’80s, with DJ Raji Rabbit spinning and mixing all night. Stagger happily back to your hotel at close…
…then come right back to nearby Waterfront Park the following night. On Saturday, July 22, Heroes Brew Fest is an enticing offsite option for those in the mood for “beer, art, tech, music” and a special DJ set by Kristian Nairn (aka Hodor from Game of Thrones), who’s as adept at getting this party started right as he is at holding the door. Tickets are available starting at $24 and doors open for general admission at 4pm no matter how much he holds them.
Taking the Pacific Highway is always a good call, especially when it leads you to Spin Nightclub. The Das Bunker Galactic Dance Party will let you burn off all that convention food Friday night from 9pm to 4am. Tip: Spring for the Galactic Explorer ticket. It’s another $15, but totally worth it.
The third annual Chicano-Con at Border X Brewing promises to deliver beer and taco specials -- along with plenty of art to enjoy -- every night from July 21-23.
Finally, despite the TV and movie takeover of Comic-Con, there are plenty of art shows to satisfy even the most hardcore geeks. Sparks Gallery is hosting an art/toy/sculpture art show that runs the entire weekend, La Bodega Gallery will show a Comics vs. Anime group art show on July 22, and Iron Fist Brewing is joining the fun with a Women in Comics art show paying tribute to Carrie Fisher on July 22 as well.
How do I get into the cool parties?
Some, like Marvel, DC, and Entertainment Weekly are invitation-only, and you can’t bluff your way in. Others, like the CBLDF Welcome Party, are ticketed and can be accessed for a small fee.
The festivities begin Thursday at 9pm with the annual BOOM! Studios Drink Up in the Hilton’s Odysea Lounge, adjacent to the convention center. This year, BOOM! And Twentieth Century Fox are buying the first 1,000 drinks for party attendees. You can pick up a ticket at their respective booths (#2229 or #4229) on the convention show floor.
Some other small press publishers such as Dark Horse and IDW also host parties, or you can check out one of the many other comics-adjacent aftercon events, such as Saturday’s Suicide Girls: Blackheart Burlesque show.
If all else fails, you can always grab a drink at the bar in one of the hotel lobbies surrounding the convention center.
In any case, keep in mind creators and celebrities are there to unwind after an exhausting convention, same as you. Do not corner Mark Hamill to explain your theory about Rey’s parents. Getting to rub elbows with your film or comics heroes in an informal setting can be one of the best parts of any con, and it’s okay to say “Hello,” but respect their space. They put their pants on one leg at a time, too, after all.
Except Alan Tudyk. He uses a giant shoehorn and a running start.
So, when do I sleep?
You’re young, yet. And did we mention there’s a Starbucks in the Convention Center lobby?
Beth Demmon is a San Diego-based food + drink writer who loves craft beer and motorcycles (not necessarily enjoyed together). View her work at bethdemmon.com or follow her on Instagram at @thedelightedbite.
Eric Palicki lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. He mostly writes comics, most recently NO ANGEL for Black Mask Studios. He's also written for CBS Local, and Darby Pop Publishing, and Marvel Comics. You can find him on Twitter @epalicki or check out his website at ericpalicki.com.
Brendan McGinley writes comics when not editing Thrillist articles, which is all the time.