Comic-Con 2015: LA's 10 Best Comic Book Stores
Skipping San Diego? Have your own geek festival at these celeb-infested shops
This story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Passing on the Comic-Con crowds that descend on San Diego (and the 405 traffic to get there) but still feel like getting your geek on? Los Angeles might not have the most comic shops per capita (a source at Diamond Distributors says that honor goes to, believe it or not, Las Vegas), but it does have a high concentration of some of the best shops. And L.A. offers something that no other city can in its comic shops: the chance that you'll bump into the real-life the Human Torch, Nick Fury or Luke Skywalker (or at least the stars who play them on the screen). Here are 10 great places to capture some of that San Diego Comic-Con experience without leaving Los Angeles.
5118 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
Blastoff specializes in vintage comics (in the window: Fantastic Four No. 1 and 1959's Tales to Astonish No. 13). It also helps actors prepping to play superheroes (Hayley Atwell for Agent Carter) and provided Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa in Captain America: Civil War) with every key Black Panther story. Says Man of Action writer-producer Joe Casey (Ben 10, Officer Downe) "Blastoff has a very of-the-moment crowd."
1298 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
This 21-year-old Pasadena shop is too cool for Superman. Instead, it emphasizes graphic novels and hard-to-find manga. "It's a reader's comic store, not a collector's comic store," sniffs manager Dennis Sison. Customers include Agents of SHIELD's Maximiliano Hernandez and comics pros such as Man of Action's Steven T. Seagle (Ben 10, Big Hero 6) and Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai. Seagle jokes he's been a "loyalist" since first stepping into the shop 15 years ago. The staff knew the young writer's work. "I have to stay here forever," he says. "They recognized me."
15017 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
DC chief creative officer Geoff Johns is one of the owners of this Sherman Oaks outpost (it hosted a reception celebrating DC's move from New York to Los Angeles). Customers include Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy), Damon Lindelof (Tomorrowland), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex). The store, which also has a Northridge branch, has supplied comics as key props to The Big Bang Theory (including the shop's rare copy of Flash No. 123).
7018 Melrose Ave.
Michael Jackson used to shop here with his kids (they'd shut down the store whenever he visited). Comic book legend Jack Kirby (creator of Captain America) was a customer, too. More recent patrons include Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers), Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four) and Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet). Says Seth Green, who met his wife at the store, "Growing up, it was very difficult to find people that were interested in the same stuff, and then you find a store that makes you feel like you're not so weird or so crazy, and that's what it's always been for me."
Hi De Ho
1431 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica
The Westside institution will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017, making it the oldest store in L.A. J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and Marcia Cross have purchased comics here. The shop also hosts after-hours comedy shows and screenings. "It's a communal meeting place," says Mark Hamill, a customer since the '70s. "It's important to support mom-and-pop shops."
House of Secrets
1930 W. Olive Ave., Burbank
Situated near DreamWorks, Disney, Cartoon Network and Warner Bros., this shop serves a range of customers. Shrek Forever After director Mike Mitchell used the store to test material while working on 2005's superhero pic Sky High. He says, "My favorite thing about this place is how easy it is to talk to people over the aisles." Man of Action's Joe Casey prefers the dollar bins in the back, where he has salvaged gems from the '70s and '80s. "That's the best part about those dumpster dives," he says. "You never know what you're going to find."
123 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale
The tiny store boasts one of the best selections of vintage comics in the L.A. area — including Spider-Man's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy No. 15 — and regularly gets its own exclusive Marvel covers dubbed "Legacy Editions." Frequent shoppers: Casey Affleck, Frank Darabont and My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way (slated to write a Spider-Man comic for Marvel).
Mega City One
7301 Melrose Ave.
Remember that Superman statuette Jerry had on his bookshelf in Seinfeld? It was purchased at this funky outlet in the heart of the Melrose shopping district. The place is so packed with comics, card games and memorabilia, it has to display posters on the ceiling.
7522 Sunset Blvd.
J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof picked up their first copies of Y: The Last Man at this shop — then tracked down its writer, Brian K. Vaughan, and hired him to write a little TV show called Lost. Along rows of comic books, Meltdown also has stage space; the Nerdist Showroom, which hosts podcasts (such as Community creator Dan Harmon's Harmontown); performances (Robin Williams once made an appearance); and workshops. Among its clientele: Sarah Silverman and Rachel McAdams.
3817 W. Sunset Blvd.
The small Silver Lake boutique offers a well-curated selection of mainstream and hard-to-find comics (it's the only shop in town stocking Australian Simon Hanselmann's Trainspotting-esque Worst Behaviour). It also stocks hard-to-find independently published zines that attract passionate customers (The Guardian listed it as one of the 10 best bookstores in the world). Clientele includes comedian Patton Oswalt and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.