Comic-Con 2018 begins Thursday, July 19, but comic-loving Angelenos don't have to drive two hours south to immerse themselves in the comic book world. If you're still feeling the pain of Meltdown Comics' closing in April, you're not alone, but the stores listed here are all doing their part to serve the local comics community and preserve the genre while proving that the essence of the culture isn't cosplay or blockbuster movies — it's storytelling, art and fantasy. Here's where to stock up on comics and collectibles during Comic-Con and all year round.
Alternate Universe has been selling comics within walking distance of Dodger Stadium since 2014. Owner Chris Cortez says, "We do three things — we do comics, toys and games." The store also holds weekly Magic the Gathering events attracting serious fantasy card players from around L.A. 1498 W. Sunset Blvd., Ste. 1, Echo Park; (213) 537-0992, facebook.com/altversela.
Blastoff Comics opened in 2012, selling everything from vintage comics and toys to animation art. Every month the store donates a portion of its proceeds to a different charity. This month it's the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Co-owner and chief creative officer Scott Tipton says, "We pride ourselves on being a part of the community through our events, our charity work, and our desire to be a welcome respite from a weary world for anyone and everyone looking for a place to belong and an escape through literature and comic books." 5118 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; (818) 980-2665, blastoffcomics.com.
Collector's Paradise opened its Canoga Park store in 1994 and added the Old Town Pasadena location in 2010. Co-owner Edward Greenberg says they try to keep the Comic-Con vibe going all year. "We have over 50 signings and other events per year, between our two locations." 7131 Winnetka Ave., Canoga Park; (818) 999-9455. Also at 319 S. Arroyo Parkway, Unit 4, Pasadena; (626) 577-6694. comicsandcards.net.
The Comic Bug
The Comic Bug opened in June 2004. Owner Mike Wellman says, "We are very interactive with the L.A. comic book creator and fan community, with weekly signings, classes and creator meetings." On Wednesday evenings, dubbed Sketchy Bug Night, "we normally host around 50 comic creators who come from all areas of Los Angeles to network, inspire and encourage each other's art and storytelling," he says. 1807 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; (310) 372-6704. Also at 4267 Overland Ave., Culver City; (310) 204-3240. thecomicbug.com.
Comic Cellar has two locations in the San Gabriel Valley. The colorful shops are more than just comics sellers — they also carry comic book memorabilia and toys, including a wide selection of Funko Pops. 135 W. Main St., Alhambra; (626) 570-8743. Also at 628 S. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia; (626) 358-1808. comiccellar.com.
The Comics Factory's website proudly proclaims that it's been "feeding your visual addictions since 1994." Owner George Huang says, "We have an extensive and comprehensive selection of trade paperbacks and graphic novels, as well as one of the largest selections of manga outside of Little Tokyo." They also stock a huge selection of the ubiquitous Funko Pop vinyl figures. 1298 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 585-0618, comicsfactory.com.
Comics vs. Toys
Comics and toys may battle for your attention in this store, but you won't have to fight anyone to find good deals — the staff is friendly and helpful. Owner Ace Aguilera says, "The store now offers 30 percent off all trade paperbacks, hardcovers, art books and compilations every day." 1613 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 258-2300, facebook.com/Comics-vs-Toys-172284276187827/.
DJ's Universal Comics
Cat Jercan has been in the comics industry for 28 years, and he has owned DJ's Universal Comics since 2000. He says, "I carry new products, modern stuff — I'd say 2000 and up — comics, toys, statues. It's a well-rounded store." 11390 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 9, Studio City; (818) 761-3465, djsuniversalcomics.com.
Dreamworld Comics claims to sell "everything superhero-related," and it sure does carry lots of comics and merch. The store practically begs to be Instagrammed — it's located in a converted gas station, and there's a Batmobile ride-on out front. 12402 Washington Place, Culver City; (310) 390-7860, dreamworldcomicbooks.com.
Earth-2 Comics opened in Sherman Oaks in 2003 and added a Northridge location in 2009. Co-owner Carr D'Angelo says, "Earth-2 is a community-driven local comics shop." The store offers plenty of events, including signings, vintage back-issue sales and a monthly kids art class, S.C.R.A.W.L. — which stands for Secret Comics Readers, Artists, Writers League. 15017 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 386-9590, earth-2comics.com. Also at 8967 Reseda Blvd., Northridge; (818) 993-7804, facebook.com/Earth2Northridge/.
Emerald Knights Comics & Games
If tiny comic book shops make you claustrophobic, head to Emerald Knights. The store, which opened in 2008, boasts a 3,000-square-foot shop and a 1,500-square-foot gaming space. It carries everything from comics and graphic novels to board games and role-playing games. 4116 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank; (818) 588-3631, ekcomicsandgames.com.
Probably the best-known comics shop in L.A., Golden Apple, aka the "Comic Shop to the Stars," was founded by Bill and Sharon Liebowitz in 1979. His son, Ryan Liebowitz, took over after Bill died in 2004, and now runs the store with the help of Sharon; his wife, Kendra; his daughter; and the family dog. He says, "We host signings with everybody in the industry to promote movies, TV shows, comic books — of course — and artwork." 7018 Melrose Ave., Hancock Park; (323) 658-6047, goldenapplecomics.com.
Hi De Ho Comics
Now in its 40th year, Hi De Ho is L.A.'s oldest comic book shop. The store recently relocated but is still in Santa Monica. Eddie deAngelini, co-owner and manager, says, "We've always had a reputation for stocking and finding some stuff that's a little more out there and esoteric, a little more weird. We have more of an indie vibe than other comic shops in the area do, and we do as much as we can to support local creators." Hi De Ho's majority owner is Geoffrey Patterson Jr., owner of another long-running comic store, Geoffrey's Comics at 15900 Crenshaw Blvd. in Gardena). 412 Broadway, Santa Monica. hidehocomics.com.
House of Secrets
House of Secrets opened in 1991 and takes its focus on comics seriously. Grimshaw says, "We are a true comic book store. We really don't do a lot of toys and gaming and stuff like that." He adds that customer service is a top priority. "Everybody who works with me is really engaged with the customers and really into comic books. We try to make it as inviting as we possibly can." 1930 W. Olive Ave., Burbank; (818) 562-1900, artoffiction.com/HouseOfSecrets.
Legacy Comics has been in business since 1991. The store's owner, Howard Chen, says, "We carry everything, collectible-wise — lots of comics and cards, lots of statues and toys. You name it, and if it's collectible, we pretty much have it. We're not a very big store, but we pack it with a lot of merchandise." 123 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale; (818) 247-8803, legacycomics.com.
Mega City One
Since opening in 1992, Mega City One has been a staple of the L.A. comics scene. It sells comic books, graphic novels, board games, posters and more. The calendar is packed with regular RPG events including game nights for Magic the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons and Heroclix. 7301 Melrose Ave., Fairfax District; (323) 934-3373, megacity.one.
The Perky Nerd
The Perky Nerd, owned and run by Tiffany Melius since 2016, is part comic book store and part coffee shop. She describes it as "a perky haven of nerdery" and says, "I wanted to make a shop that I would want to frequent, and others would feel that warm friendly vibe when they stepped through the door." The store organizes game nights, art shows, and comic book clubs. 1606 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; (818) 823-7511, theperkynerd.com.
Pulp Fiction has been selling comics in Long Beach for more than a decade and opened a second store in Culver City in 2014. Kriss Meier, manager of the Culver City location, says, "We sell all new graphic novels at 30 percent off and all kids graphic novels and manga at 20 percent off, all the time. We host comic writing classes for adults and kids, and the last Saturday of the month, we host a free drawing event called Comic Jam." 1742 Clark Ave., Long Beach; (562) 986-4154. Also at 4328 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City; (310) 572-6170. pulpfictionbooksandcomics.com.
The Retro Store
The Retro Store opened about nine years ago, and it's much more than a comic book shop. Owner David Harbaugh says, "We deal in retro toys, vintage from the '60s all the way to the present, as well as carry all the new comics that come out. Back issues, new issues and plenty of collectible, pop culture and sports memorabilia items. We buy comics and toys, too." 17 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 356-9726, retrostoreonline.com.
While the mysterious history on its website claims Secret Headquarters has existed since 1932, the store opened to the public in 2005. Manager Julie Sharron says, "Secret Headquarters has the best comics, graphic novels and zines this side of the Mississippi." The store hosts art shows and book signings, and also runs Dungeon Dungeon (dungeondungeon.com), the comic book store inside the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A. 3817 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 666-2228, thesecretheadquarters.com.
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A Shop Called Quest
A Shop Called Quest launched in Redlands in 1993 and now has locations there as well as Claremont and downtown L.A. The DTLA store has been open for about two years. Jamie "Milk" Hendon, the store's creative director, says ASCQ is all about curation and personal experience and has "a 21st-century approach to comics, art and culture." 300 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown; (213) 680-2737, ashopcalledquest.com.
Things From Another World
The L.A. location of Things From Another World has been around since Universal CityWalk first opened in 1993. "Three years ago we moved to a bigger location on CityWalk, which provides us with even more space for comics, toys and collectibles," says Barbara Biener, shift manager. The store's current offerings include life-sized statues of R2-D2, Iron Man and Boba Fett. 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Ste #101, Universal City; (818) 622-8464, tfaw.com