One of last year’s most popular San Diego Comic-Con off-site events, held at Eden’s Boutique in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, was LAIKA LIVE, a exhibition of the work and creative process of LAIKA Studios, the powerhouse behind such incredible stop-motion animation films CORALINE, THE BOXTROLLS, PARANORMAN and KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS. Fans lined up around the block, not only to celebrate the titanic technical efforts it takes to bring these incredible stories to the screen but also to grab some cracking merch to take home with them.
For 2018, LAIKA Studios have returned bigger and better than ever in an expanded space, taking over what used to be Dick’s Last Resort at 350 Fifth Avenue – this exhibition, three times the size of the Eden installation, is filled with incredible real-world, hands-on insight from some of LAIKA’s own talented animators; these aren’t hired-in ‘booth bodies’, they’re the actual magicians behind these phenomenal films. (Couple of Brits in there, too, a hangover from the UK production of CORALINE and who followed the company after that was done!)
The exhibition is a rare one in that it opens beyond the timeframe of Comic-Con, now open to the public from Friday 13th July, which means that early arrivals to the city can check out this off-site this weekend – at 2pm yesterday, the doors opened and a nice, steady trickle of enthusastic fans were walked through the activation (perhaps not the swarms of crowds that were attracted last year but a nice, comfortable number – perhaps the sweltering heat that has been buffeting San Diego in recent years put off the majority).
Made up of glassed displays of machetes, props, pre-production moulds and design artwork, along with mock ups of animation sets and ‘figure hospitals’ with the afore-mentioned animators explaining the LAIKA process, original set models from the film productions themselves and also interactive photo opportunities to take advantage of, the exhibition doesn’t just look back at past glories but also to the future with LAIKA’s biggest and most ambitious project to date, MISSING LINK, which is scheduled for release in April 2019.
I was one of the first ten through the door and, as one of the initial batch to get the chance to look at the exhibition, it was great to see the staff and featured animators in that fresh-out-of-the-box mode, yet to be buffeted by the crowds and the heat! I took a whole bunch of pictures, which I hope you’ll appreciate and will give a taste of what visitors can enjoy.
SDCC 2018: LAIKA LIVE Opening Day (Friday 13th July 2018)
Visitors also get to be a bit more interactive: one, with a chance to help Laika team up with LEGO to create for mass-market a COROLINE ‘Pink Palace Apartments’, with visitors encouraged to submit votes to help convince LEGO to produce the set officially. The other, with a series of daily draws to win pairs of Laika-branded Nike Dunks sneakers (US-residents only so, if you’re tempted to participate and from a little further afield, make sure you have those forged American credentials to hand!)
The LAIKA LIVE Exhibition is open to all now, no SDCC badge required, and runs until Sunday 22nd July, the last day of Comic-Con so, if you’re making a leisurely stroll down to the Convention Centre, swing by and experience something truly wonderful:
- Friday 13th July: 2pm – 10pm
- Saturday 14th July: 2pm -10pm
- Sunday 15th July: 11am – 5pm
- Monday 16th July: 12 Midday – 5pm
- Tuesday 17th July: 12 Midday – 5pm
- Wednesday 18th July : 12 Midday – 5pm
- Thursday 19th July: 10am – 10pm
- Friday 20th July: 10am – 11pm
- Saturday 21st July: (LAIKA Store) 10am; (then, Exhibit): 2pm – 11pm
- Sunday 22nd July: 10am – 6pm
Also be aware, there’s going to be a special autograph signing with LAIKA President / CEO Travis Knight on Saturday 21st July from 12.30pm to 2pm, with a ‘soon-to-be-announced special guest’ in tow. And we know that NEIL GAIMAN (the original author of the COROLINE book) is in town, so…