The Simpsons has ingrained a certain expectation of comic book purveyors into the collective psyche of a generation: acerbic, corpulent, inaccessible. Fortunately for Los Angeles, the personable staff of Melrose Music and Comics provides less of an Android's Dungeon and more of a clubhouse for SoCal's nerd community. In addition to its extensive selection of comic books, action figures, trading cards and other collectibles, the shop's snug, one-stop geek hub features a row of folding tables, encouraging patrons to hang around, play a round of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and debate which superheroes could beat Galactus in a fight. So while the neighborhood hipsters and wannabes stumble from shows at the Groundlings to drinks at Village Idiot, L.A.'s fanboys congregate at Melrose, battling each other in Magic: The Gathering competitions until closing, which extends as late as midnight on Thursdays and Fridays. Add the unprecedented daily 20 percent discount on all new issues, and Melrose Music and Comics may be, to paraphrase Springfield's Comic Book Guy, the best comic book store ever. 7301 Melrose Ave., Fairfax District, 90046. (323) 934 3373, —Mike Ciriaco

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