From the inaugural National Cartoonists Society's Festival to the Mad Hatter's (Gin &) Tea Party, here are the 11 best things to do in L.A. this week.
The Men and Women Who Draw
You're familiar with their work, but have you ever met the men and women behind your favorite comics or animation? The first of its kind in America, the National Cartoonists Society's inaugural NCSFest brings together more than 100 international comic book artists and animators who're responsible for such famous titles as The Simpsons, The Walking Dead, Cathy, Ghost World, Darth Vader and Son, Star Wars Adventures, Beetle Bailey, and Popeye (celebrating 90 years!), as well as creators from The New Yorker, Washington Post, Esquire, Disney and MAD magazine. Of course, cosplay is welcome, but unlike traditional comic book conventions, the mostly free, city-wide event runs throughout Huntington Beach, primarily downtown. The schedule includes readings, signings, classes, workshops, exhibits, screenings, podcasts, a marketplace, zombie walk and 90-minute live drawing finale. Downtown Huntington Beach; Thu.-Sun., May 16-19, hours vary; mostly free. ncsfest.com. —Siran Babayan
Ghoulish and Got-to-Have-It
If the plethora of horror cons and alternative shopping events in L.A. is any indication, our city is filled with a bunch of weirdos. Weirdos with money to burn! Locally curated events for fans of pop culture-minded treasures with dark tastes abound, so for out-of-towners to generate excitement in this arena, you know they gotta be good at what they do. Oddities Flea Market, put together by cool Brooklyn couple Ryan Matthew Cohn and Regina Cohn, returns to Los Angeles after a successful inaugural event last year — and this time, joined by Atlas Obscura, known for their eccentric-minded events. Expect medical and anatomical ephemera, natural history items, specimens, taxidermy, gothic home decor, one-of-kind jewelry, freaky art and all kinds of curiosities you simply must have in your life. VIP tickets (sold through Atlas Obscura) score you early access to all the ghoulish goodies, but try not to shop til you drop. There's an afterparty featuring music, absinthe cocktails and "ethereal" performances later. Globe Theatre, 740 S. Broadway, downtown; Sat., May 18, 8:30-11:45 p.m.; $40, $65 VIP. atlasobscura.com/events/. —Lina Lecaro
Greg Simkins is a big deal in the world of street art and urban murals, where he first became known under the moniker Craola, as part of an eclectic and evolving crew-based scene. But all along and with increasing prominence over the years, it's been his dedication to a pure and paradigmatic studio painting practice that's captured critical acclaim and the popular imagination. In his exhibition of new paintings Let the Outside In, Simkins expands on his strangely romantic, finely painted, lavishly detailed, storybook surrealism, offering a new suite of anthropomorphic birds and beasts enacting symbolic, emotionally charged vignettes of courtly, literary whimsy. KP Projects, 633 N. La Brea Ave., Fairfax; opening reception: Sat., May 18, 7-10 p.m.; exhibition: Tue.-Fri., noon-6 p.m., through June 15; free with rsvp. (323) 933-4408, kpprojects.net. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Calling all Literary Lovers
Whether your nose is buried in a book or newspaper or on a screen, you still love that greatest of pastimes: reading. LitFest Pasadena invites literary lovers from all over and highlights local authors and beyond. Taking place in and around the city's two most famous landmarks, Vroman's Bookstore and The Pasadena Playhouse, the schedule features readings and presentations by 250-plus writers, including Janet Fitch, Lisa See, Naomi Hirahara and festival co-founder Jervey Tervalon, as well as poetry, workshops, open mics, podcasts and kids and teen events. Highlights include the Roswell Award for science fiction shorts, a bicentennial birthday salute to Walt Whitman, who was born May 31, 1819, and, as usual, panel discussions on such topics as "True Crime as Entertainment," "Finding Truth Through Memoir" and "What You Need to Know About Publishing." Special this year is a heartfelt tribute to late L.A. Times food critic and Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold, who appeared at past LitFests and was a Pasadena resident. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sat.-Sun., May 18-19, 1-10 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320,litfestpasadena.org.—Siran Babayan
All You Can Sip and Sup
During this year's 3rd Annual Flavor of L.A. cavalcade of food, fun and refreshments, you'll pay just once to sip and sup on an endless supply of some of the finest dishes that L.A. restaurants have to offer. From Petit Trois to The Pie Hole, from Ceremony to The Crack Shack, from Baklavalicious to the Boneyard Bistro, you'll expand your palate in an eatery experience that embraces sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami and fat in this four-hour dive into the city's cuisine that makes you a better individual adult human being for having been brave enough to try it all. CBS Studio Center Back Lot, 4024 Radford Ave., Studio City; Sun., May 19, 1-5 p.m.; $75. (818) 655-5916, flavorofla.com. —David Cotner
The Original Purveyors of Punk
The Damned's immortal "New Rose" was the first punk rock single, and their debut record, Damned Damned Damned, was the first punk rock album. But compared to the Sex Pistols and Clash, The Damned have always been commercially and critically overlooked. Wes Orshoski's 2015 documentary, The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, pays overdue respect and rightfully puts them in the pantheon of punk gods. Orshoski, who directed 2010's Lemmy, uses footage from The Damned's early performances from the mid-'70s, when they were more comedic and less political and nihilistic than their contemporaries; The Damned were just as rebellious, but more importantly, they could play. Over the years they've gone through numerous musical and lineup changes that briefly included Lemmy Kilmister. (Original members Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Brian James haven't performed together since 1991, and are currently split into two groups.) Still, the two configurations are headlining punk festivals and playing clubs five decades later, and the film includes testimonials from Lemmy, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, Mick Jones, Keith Morris, Duff McKagan, Pink Floyd's Nick Mason and Fred Armisen, among others, who praise their enduring music. Tonight's screening is followed by a Q&A with Orshoski and current drummer Andrew "Pinch" Pinching. The Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St., downtown; Sun., May 19, 8 p.m.; $12 in advance, $15 day of. (323) 284-5727, spacelandpresents.com. —Siran Babayan
Margaret Cho has been righteously anointed as the patron saint of outsiders, and on her Facebook page the comedian lists her affinity for "hand models, all gays, beautiful girls, every lesbian on Facebook, people of color, people who are uncolored, trannies ...the guy Dick Cheney shot ... hot bottoms, bears, paranormal investigators, heterosexual men who can appreciate a big ass on a woman/man ... [and] animal-loving yet feather boa–wearing divas in denial/conflict that feathers come from birds," among others. Cho's work encompass more than comedy — she has recorded poignant songs about dogs with Fiona Apple and Ben Lee, appeared in burlesque revues, and is the executive producer of Mercy Mistress, a new, non-exploitive YouTube series about dominatrixes. You never know which of her pals might show up to join her at Largo's typically freewheeling soirees. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Mon., May 20, 8:30 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —Falling James
In the summer, L.A. Philharmonic migrates to its warm-weather feeding grounds at the Hollywood Bowl, but there are still a few weeks of key performances inside the acoustic marvel known as Disney Hall. During its 100th-anniversary season, the orchestra has plunged deeply into explorations of the brave new world of contemporary and avant-garde music, with several major new-music world premieres still to come, including Ragnar Kjartansson's torturous marathon Bliss and at "Noon to Midnight," a nonstop three-ring circus of inventive music and performance art. But members of L.A. Phil's string and woodwinds sections also demonstrate the orchestra's unrivaled approach to the work of classical composers in this intimate presentation of chamber music by Ludwig van Beethoven. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Tue., May 21, 8 p.m.; $20-$60. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com/events. —Falling James
It's a Sweaty, Good Time
DJ Moist on hump night? Kinda perfect ain't it? The L.A. based R&B and hip-hop selector can be found spinning sexy sounds on Mondays (at his long-running Moist Mondays at La Cita Bar) and Fridays (spinning '90s and early 2000 body-rockers at The Lash) but here we recommend his newest jam for a middle of the week flashback — Back In The Day at The Short Stop. Moist is all about getting crowds to let go of inhibitions, to get down and grind, and have a good time. This new party has all the ingredients for sultry success too: great old school tracks (from Janet Jackson to Jay-Z), the Short Stop's dranks (when they're cheap and strong, that's what ya call 'em!) and the neighborhood bar itself, which we shamelessly once named the best bar in L.A. to get you "LA-id," thanks to the dark and cozy, booth-lined dance area. Moist, whose real name is Keith Myers, is an actor by day, and that helps him read rooms better than most, offering "nostalgia jams you used to make out to" and bringing bounce to the dance floor like few do. Dress to sweat. The Short Stop, 1455 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.; Wed., May 22, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; free (21+). facebook.com/DJMoist/. —Lina Lecaro
Moving Through Society's Problems
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Two veteran street dancers who both started on the Santa Monica promenade, Jon Boogz and Lil Buck went on to national fame in their own right and in collaboration under the banner MAI (Movement Art Is). Their graphic video Color of Reality and TED Talk "A Dance to Mother Earth" both became viral hits (viewable at movementartis.com). Live performance remains the best way to experience their distinctive individual styles and the impact of their combined forces to employ dance to articulate larger cultural and political issues. The two arrive with a handful of accomplished street dancers for a single performance of their highly praised Love Heals All Wounds. Despite its Hallmark Channel title, the dancers confront issues of mass incarceration, the environment, diversity and the power of empathy to cut through the noise. The performance ticket is also good for a afterparty with the dancers, DJs, appetizers and drinks. UCLA Royce Hall, 10745 Dickson Court, Westwood; Thu., May 23, 8 p.m.; $29-$99. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu/. —Ann Haskins
Down the Rabbit Hole
Hatters gonna hat at today's Mad Hatter's (Gin &) Tea Party, 90 minutes of making cocktails on a molecular level that will make you feel like Alice as you tower over booze that is equal parts fancy and schmancy. Follow that up with some British tea time snacks, and by the time the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go, you'll cock that Mad Hatter hat you've been wearing all along and scamper off into the night, ready to head down another rabbit hole in one of the most adventuresome Thursdays you've had in years. Project, 1661 Ivar Ave., Hollywood; Thu., May 23, 6 p.m.; $60. (646) 781-7359, madhatterginteaparty.com/los-angeles. —David Cotner