Superhero sand sculptures in Imperial Beach!

Superman enters a phone booth. When he comes out, who will he become?
Superman enters a phone booth. When he comes out, who will he become?

Today I headed down to Imperial Beach to enjoy the Sun and Sea Festival. The annual summer event is famous for its popular sand sculpture contest near the pier. You might’ve seen photos I took in past years.

In 2018 the theme for the sand sculpture competition was Superheroes In The Sand.

A big crowd turned out on a sunny summer Saturday in Imperial Beach to enjoy the annual Sun and Sea Festival.
A big crowd turned out on a sunny summer Saturday in Imperial Beach to enjoy the annual Sun and Sea Festival.
Cool comic book cover! A surfer wears a cape for the 2018 Sun and Sea Festival in Imperial Beach. The original sandcastle competition!
Poster looks like a comic book cover! A surfer wears a cape for the 2018 Sun and Sea Festival in Imperial Beach. The original sandcastle competition!
A big sand sculpture near the event's entrance greets one and all to the Sun and Sea Festival.
A big sand sculpture near the event’s entrance greets one and all to the Sun and Sea Festival. That caped hero seems to be holding a surfboard.
I found my first superhero on the beach. It's Wonder Woman!
I found my first superhero on the beach. It’s Wonder Woman!
Here's a tribute to a young superhero. A young lady named Angela had her wish made true by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Here’s a tribute to a young superhero. A young lady named Angela had her wish made true by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Titans Collide, a sand sculpture by the Sculpintures. Thanos and Hulk are ready to do battle.
Titans Collide, a sand sculpture by the Sculpintures. Thanos and Hulk are ready to do battle. I hope Thanos doesn’t have that gauntlet on.
Hulk is finally angry and ready to smash.
Watch out Thanos! Hulk is finally really angry and ready to smash.
The Coastal Carvers were creating the IB Bears. I'm not sure how exactly this fits with the superhero theme.
The Coastal Carvers were creating the IB Bears. I’m not sure how exactly this fits with the superhero theme.
Howie's Crew was creating Gotham City out of sand. I see the Bat Signal and the Bat Cave!
Howie’s Crew was creating Gotham City out of sand. I see the Bat Signal and the Bat Cave!
And I see Wayne Manor, too!
And I see Wayne Manor, too!
Scooby Doo is a superhero, right? The Guardians of the Sandlot had scenes from that favorite cartoon. Here's the Mystery Machine!
Scooby Doo is a superhero, right? The Guardians of the Sandlot had scenes from that favorite cartoon. Here’s the Mystery Machine!
And here's something scary! It's probably an old disgruntled lighthouse keeper in a yellow slicker cleverly disguised as a monster. Just my wild guess.
And here’s a super scary creature! It’s probably an old disgruntled lighthouse keeper in a yellow slicker somehow cleverly disguised as a big monster. Just my wild guess.
According to the San Diego Sand Castles, you don't need a cape.
According to the San Diego Sand Castles, you don’t need a cape.
Wonder Woman has no cape, nor She-Ra.
Wonder Woman has no cape, nor She-Ra.
Working on sand art celebrating She-Ra. You'll see why, shortly.
A local guy working on sand art that celebrates She-Ra. You’ll see why, shortly.
Heroes gathered in Imperial Beach the week before 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
A variety of heroes gathered in Imperial Beach the week before 2018 San Diego Comic-Con.
Archisand was crafting a sandcastle fantasy and a beautiful face.
Archisand was crafting a sandcastle fantasy and a beautiful sleepy face.
There were sand sculptures on either side of the Imperial Beach Pier. Lots of surfers out today, too.
There were sand sculptures on either side of the Imperial Beach Pier. Lots of surfers out today, too.
Sandytales was creating Dreaming, an imaginative sand sculpture with another sleepy face and whimsical castle.
Sandytales was creating Dreaming, an imaginative sand sculpture with another sleepy face and whimsical castle.
Here's the castle and a smile. Creating that looks like fun!
Here’s the castle and a smile. Creating that looks like fun!
Team Sandstorm was creating something just north of the IB Pier.
Team Sandstorm was creating their sand sculpture just north of the IB Pier.
Forever Heroes. It's a big Purple Cross.
Forever Heroes. It’s a big Purple Cross.
Spheres are sculpted to become helmeted war heroes.
Sand spheres are sculpted to become helmeted war heroes.
Many heroes behind the medal.
Many heroes behind the medal.
The Sandcastle Man Team is creating a fantastic Star Wars setting.
The Sandcastle Man Team was creating a fantastic Star Wars setting.
A sand sculpture rendition of a distant world. Rebels and Resistance.
A sand sculpture rendition of a far distant world. Rebels and Resistance.
The I.B. Posse created a new chest emblem for Superman. It features a firefighter's helmet.
The I.B. Posse created a new chest emblem for Superman. It features a firefighter’s helmet.
Superman entered the phone booth in my very first photo . . . then emerged as a true hero firefighter!
Superman entered a phone booth in my very first photo . . . then emerged as a true hero firefighter!
Here are some hero lifeguards.
Here are some hero lifeguards.
Why do a number of local sand artists favor the heroine She-Ra?
Why do several local sand artists like the heroine She-Ra?
This sculpture by the San Squirrels honors a former member. I believe her name was Shera. Her surviving brother works with sand for the first time.
This sculpture by the Sand Squirrels honors a former member. I believe her name was Shera. Her surviving brother works with sand for the first time.
My Heroes, by the I.B. Family Posse, has Batman and Spiderman ready side by side.
My Heroes, by the I.B. Family Posse, has Batman and Spiderman ready side by side.
A kid is surrounded by Superman and other imaginary superheroes. He wears a fireman's helmet.
A kid is surrounded by Superman and other imaginary superheroes. He wears a fireman’s helmet.
My Heroes.
My Heroes.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

LAIKA LIVE San Diego–UPDATE!

LAIKA LIVE San Diego is coming to 2018 Comic-Con...bigger and better than ever!
LAIKA LIVE San Diego is coming to 2018 Comic-Con . . . bigger and better than last year!

In my previous blog post, I discovered Laika is returning to San Diego Comic-Con. This morning I walked down to check things out again and learned that Laika’s presence in the Gaslamp this year will be substantially larger and more interesting!

The Laika Experience in 2017 was so amazingly successful, with lines that were so long, they’ve decided to enlarge the space and include even more stuff. I learned that for LAIKA LIVE San Diego this year, there will be life-size movie sets that the public can enter, including Coraline’s bedroom! (I went on the tour since I wrote this. Turns out I misinterpreted what I heard. It’s a life-size replica of Coraline’s Other World Living Room. Still very cool!)

UPDATE!

Here’s some great info I received from Laika!

Oscar®-winning animation studio LAIKA, creators of Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings, returns to the heart of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter with an all new, bigger-than-ever LAIKA LIVE exhibit from Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 22, 2018 coinciding with the city’s PRIDE and Comic-Con festivities. With a new location (350 Fifth Avenue) providing three times the space as last year’s fantastically successful LAIKA installation, the free and all new exhibit will feature a huge cache of props, puppets, and sets from LAIKA’s critically acclaimed and award-winning films. Highlights include fan art, technology demonstrations, drawings for a pair of coveted Coraline Dunks from Nike, social media activations, LAIKA merchandise offered for sale (including brand new items and limited edition Coraline items), multiple giveaways, and more.  LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight will lead a Facebook Live tour of the exhibit and do an autograph signing with a soon-to-be-announced special guest on Saturday, July 21.

Curators will explain the magical process of LAIKA’s filmmaking as guests peek behind the curtain at one of the most imaginative film studios in the world. LAIKA’s roster of costume characters (appearing both at the exhibit and throughout the Gaslamp Quarter) will pose for photos and for the first time ever will include Coraline and Other Mother, in a nod to the iconic film’s 10th anniversary (release date was February 9, 2009). In addition, fans will meet the costume character Mr. Link and see a set and Mr. Link puppet from LAIKA’s latest film Missing Link (set for release April 19, 2019).

WHERE:

350 Fifth Avenue (between J & K Streets)

WHEN:

Friday, July 13 to Sunday, July 22, 2018

Hours of Operation:

Friday, 7/13:  2-10pm
Saturday, 7/14: 2-10pm
Sunday, 7/15:  11am-5pm
Monday, 7/16:  12-5pm
Tuesday, 7/17: 12-5pm
Wednesday, 7/18: 12-5pm
Thursday, 7/19:  10am-10pm
Friday, 7/20:  10am-11pm
Saturday, 7/21: LAIKA store opens at 10am; exhibit: 2:00pm-11pm
Sunday, 7/22: 10am-6pm

HIGHLIGHTS:

Saturday, July 21 (with soon-to-be announced special guest)

11am: LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight (director of Kubo and the Two Strings) will take Facebook Live guests on a tour of the exhibit. (Details tba)

12:30 to 2:00pm: Autograph signing session with Travis Knight. Autographs of merchandise (available at the store at LAIKA LIVE) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, time permitting.

WHAT TO SEE at LAIKA LIVE:

●  Sets, puppets, props and technology demonstrations from all four LAIKA films as well as our hero puppet and a set from the studio’s upcoming Missing Link.
●  LAIKA merchandise available for purchase.
●  Daily drawing for one pair of collectible Coraline Dunks from Nike.
●  Photo ops with LAIKA costume characters, including:

◦ Coraline and Other Mother from Coraline
◦ Norman and Zombie Judge from ParaNorman
◦ Boxtrolls Fish and Sparky from The Boxtrolls
◦ Kubo, Monkey and Beetle from Kubo and the Two Strings
◦ Mister Link from Missing Link

Medieval knights mock fight in Balboa Park!

Look what I watched today!

Every Sunday afternoon, on a large area of grass in Balboa Park’s Morley Field Sports Complex, medieval knights come together and engage in mock combat! These brave knights hail from the Realm of Andor. They are a part of the international Belegarth Medieval Combat Society.

Wielding foam weapons like swords, maces and battle axes, these guys get a super fun athletic workout. I was told by a friendly member of the Realm of Andor that the sport is like a mixture of fencing and rugby, with fairly simple rules. When a combatant receives a strike to a critical area, they fall down as if dead. A hit on a limb results in a loss of its use. Two limbs gone, you’re a goner. The last one standing wins!

I watched as the combatants veered all over the place, swinging a variety of formidable ancient weapons. Two or three knights would gang up on another; others would be struck by a sneaky knight from behind. Some of the members, in their cool costumes and bearing shields, appeared to be rampaging extras in the filming of Lord of the Rings. Many make their own weapons. It’s all about fantasy and high energy fun!

If you’d like to learn more, or perhaps join, check out their website!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Fun photos for those who love Star Wars!

San Diego Comic-Con is approaching fast.

With the appearance of this year’s Comic-Con trolley wraps, many people I speak to are starting to get excited.

Now that I’m thinking about Comic-Con, too, it has occurred to me that over the years my blog has featured lots of photos concerning one of the absolute biggest franchises in pop culture: Star Wars!

I’ve rounded up a bunch of links that would be fun to check out. You’ll find unique photos of Star Wars artwork, models, cosplay, and even some humorous Star Wars street art!

Star Wars lightsaber combat at Maker Faire!

Cool–and funny–Star Wars street art!

A cool Star Wars character created by local artist!

Star Wars cosplay at Independence Day parade!

San Diego artist spray paints cool Star Wars images!

Three cool street art faces in East Village!

(Click the above link at your discretion. Yes, I’m afraid there’s an image of Jar Jar Binks.)

Comic-Con insanity! More cosplay and a TV star!

(Click to see many instances of Star Wars cosplay, including a Jawa.)

Cosplay photos and other 2017 Comic-Con stuff!

(Click to see more Star Wars cosplay, plus a full size replica of a Star Wars T-47 Snowspeeder.)

Some cool photos from Comic-Con Preview Night.

(Click to see a fair amount of Star Wars stuff, including the full size speeder used by Rey in The Force Awakens.)

Enjoy!

First 2018 San Diego Comic-Con trolley: Syfy!

The first trolley wrap for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con features two Syfy shows--Krypton and HAPPY!
The first trolley wrap for 2018 San Diego Comic-Con features two Syfy shows–Krypton and HAPPY!

More than a month to go until 2018 San Diego Comic-Con and trolleys are already getting wrapped! A record 40 or more trolley cars will feature Comic-Con graphics this year, according to MTS!

I spotted the very first wrap this morning at the Little Italy station! Here are my quick photos!

It appears Syfy will be returning to San Diego Comic-Con in a big way in 2018. The wrap promotes two of their shows: Krypton and HAPPY! Both series have been renewed for a second season.

I noticed that Syfy’s slogan from last year–It’s a Fan Thing–is being referenced once again. On this trolley the words read: It’s a Fan Made Thing.

The Krypton art was created by Moritat, a comic book creator who has done some work for DC.

The HAPPY! trolley art was created by a fan named Alyssa Veysey. You can see her personal DeviantArt page, including the HAPPY! trolley artwork, here.

Because I live in downtown San Diego, I plan to take hundreds of photos during Comic-Con, as I’ve done the past few years!

Stay tuned!

A closer photo of the Krypton trolley graphic.
A closer photo of the Krypton trolley graphic.
The other half of the trolley car features imaginary characters from the highly original fantasy-comedy-crime show HAPPY!
The other half of the trolley car features imaginary characters from the highly original fantasy-comedy-crime show HAPPY!
A three-headed dog named Raspberry!
A three-headed dog named Raspberry!
It's a a blue, flying unicorn named Happy!
It’s a blue, flying unicorn named Happy!

UPDATE!

A couple days later, and I’ve spotted a second San Diego Comic-Con trolley wrap that promotes the two Syfy shows The Magicians and Wynonna Earp.

I got some photos!

A cool Syfy wrap on a San Diego Comic-Con trolley. It's a fan made thing. Find your fan thing!
A cool Syfy wrap on a San Diego Comic-Con trolley. It’s a fan made thing. Find your fan thing!
A Comic-Con trolley wrap that promotes The Magicians on Syfy.
A Comic-Con trolley wrap that promotes The Magicians on Syfy.
Another photo of the graphics for The Magicians.
Another photo of the graphics for The Magicians.
The other half of the San Diego Trolley car promotes the Syfy show Wynonna Earp.
The other half of the San Diego Trolley car promotes the Syfy show Wynonna Earp.
The characters of Wynonna Earp are portrayed on playing cards.
The characters of Wynonna Earp are portrayed on playing cards.

UPDATE!

Here’s another Syfy trolley car I’ve spotted! This one promotes the shows Nightflyers and Deadly Class!

Nightflyers graphics on a 2018 San Diego Comic-Con Syfy trolley wrap.
Nightflyers graphics on a 2018 San Diego Comic-Con Syfy trolley wrap.
A second photo of the Nightflyers trolley graphics.
A second photo of the Nightflyers trolley graphics.
Deadly Class, another show on Syfy, is promoted on another half of the trolley.
Deadly Class, another show on Syfy, is promoted on another half of the trolley car.
Deadly Class on Syfy is being promoted on a San Diego trolley car with cool fan art.
Deadly Class on Syfy is being promoted on a San Diego trolley car with cool fan art.
Second photo of the Deadly Class San Diego Comic-Con trolley wrap!
Second photo of the Deadly Class San Diego Comic-Con trolley wrap!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

The little-known studio of an amazing artist!

A small army of Japanese kokeshi fill the James E. Watts Studio in downtown San Diego.
A small army of life-size Japanese kokeshi fill the James E. Watts Studio in downtown San Diego.

I had an utterly amazing experience today.

I was walking through downtown San Diego, along Seventh Avenue, when I noticed a small table saw out on the sidewalk. It was set up in front of an unmarked door–one that I’ve passed many times over the years. When I peered through the open door my eyes nearly popped out of my head!

Through that mysterious door I saw a wonderland!

A friendly person told me that I might step inside. That very cool, funny and interesting guy was James E. Watts, a local artist who has been creating unique works of imagination for decades in San Diego. His pieces have appeared in a variety of exhibitions and at important museums, including both the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Why the table saw? James Watts was just beginning a new sculpture of Quasimodo, and wooden blocks would be used to form the interior structure. Thin aluminum sheets nailed to the surface would produce the sculpture’s skin.

As you can see from the above photograph, his studio is dominated by a series of these large sculptures. They are based upon Japanese kokeshi, and his fun, symbolic pieces represent all sorts of characters from literature and history. He showed me a female Atlas, Don Quixote (with two small horses), Prometheus, Pandora, Jonah and Leviathan, and Joan of Arc. The humorous, collage-like skins were originally lunchboxes, signs, cans and other bits of colorful aluminum.

Another cool piece he showed me appears to be a combination of the Shroud of Turin, a horizontal religious shrine, and that wacky game Operation. Human anatomy is partitioned. Old age is contemplated. Bones fill box-like compartments. Colorful foam dots and dashes spell out a message in Morse code around the perimeter. The word BEAUTIFUL appears beneath the skull. (If you decipher the Morse code message, please leave a comment!)

And so I found myself standing in the middle of a fantasy world turning my eyes every which way. Rampant creativity jammed every wall, crammed every corner, was stacked high upon the floor. I could have happily lingered in that extraordinary studio all day long.

Thanks to James Watts for showing me around his artistic playground! There’s a special, little-known nook in the heart of San Diego, where one man’s imagination produces great treasures, and now I recognize the door!

James Watts near some artwork in progress. The wood blocks will fill the interior of a hunchbacked Quasimodo. I was told a bell will be placed atop the literary character's head!
James Watts near some artwork in progress. The wood blocks will fill the interior of a hunchbacked Quasimodo. I was told a bell might be placed atop the literary character’s head!
On the left a female Atlas holds up the world. To the right Don Quixote appears ready to tilt at windmills.
On the left a female Atlas holds up the world. To the right Don Quixote appears ready to tilt at windmills.
Many nudes also decorate the walls of the art gallery. They are done in various styles, reflecting famous painters of the past.
Many nudes also decorate the walls of the art gallery. They are done in various styles, reflecting famous painters of the past.
James Watts opens up a brain pan to reveal a brain!
James Watts opens up a brain pan to reveal . . . a brain!
So much cool artwork that I could barely take it all in.
So much amazing, cool artwork that I could barely take it all in.
Like a playground for a creator whose imagination seems to have no limits.
Like a playground for a creator whose imagination seems to have no limits.
I was told this abstract piece represents that brave person who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square.
I was told this abstract piece represents that brave person who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square.
An imaginative piece that represents the artist's contemplation of aging. Those colorful dots and dashes form a Morse code message!
A playful piece that has emerged from the artist’s contemplation of aging. Those colorful dots and dashes form a mysterious Morse code message!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Sexy space warriors and aliens in North Park!

A cool mural on the Supercuts building in North Park depicts sexy lady space warriors and wacky, evil aliens!
A cool mural on the Supercuts building in North Park depicts sexy lady space warriors and wacky, menacing aliens!

There’s a relatively new mural in North Park that replaces a cosmic mural that I blogged about here. This cool spray paint street art features two sexy space warriors and several wacky aliens! You can find it near the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street.

It appears to me that certain elements of the old mural have been preserved. Have you “eyed” it?

I recently learned that a special utility box painting event will be taking place in North Park all along University Avenue and 30th Street tomorrow, and I hope to be there for the creativity, live music and fun! But right now I seem to be coming down with a cold, plus rain is predicted–so we’ll see. If I go I’ll take photos!

Ten street artists have their names on one side of this fantastic, complex spray paint art in North Park.
Ten street artists have their names on one side of this fantastic, complex spray paint art in North Park.
Looks to me like a sexy lady Boba Fett and Marvel's lethal super villain MODOK in his hover chair.
Looks to me like a sexy lady Boba Fett and Marvel’s lethal super villain MODOK in his hover chair.
Two weird space aliens and a sexy warrior with a couple of classic ray guns.
Two weird, wacky space aliens and a sexy female warrior holding two ray guns.
Looks to me like a cross between an evil green Jar Jar Binks and a toothy Alien or Venom.
Looks to me like a cross between an evil green Jar Jar Binks and a toothy Alien or Venom.
Two elements of a fun spray paint mural near the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street in North Park.
Two elements of the fun spray paint mural located near the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street in North Park!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!