Comic book store options in LA
A pioneer of modern comic retailing, Secret Headquarters was one of the first shops to create an inviting environment to buy, read and talk comics. Refusing to rest on its laurels, SHQ maintains one of the best-curated collections of cutting-edge English language comics in the world (just across the wall from your favorite superhero books). With sections spotlighting up-and-coming artists and shelves dedicated to the absolute latest in odd and beautiful comics, SHQ sells stuff that can’t be found anywhere else. This Silver Lake shop hosts signings and gallery openings featuring comics’ best and brightest, and even maintains its own publishing program.
It’s easy to spot House of Secrets, which has been servicing geeks in Burbank since 1991. Vintage-style art signs and a hilarious piece of outdoor furniture pop amidst an otherwise drab Burbank block. The interior is equally astounding; think the absolute coolest, most stylish version of the crummy neighborhood comic shop in your hometown. The shop’s largest room is dedicated to an array of new and classic comics and graphic novels, with walls, floors and ceilings covered in an almost overwhelming collage of comic art and furniture, including a stunning Tank Girl coffee table. Two smaller rooms toward the back house a stash of Golden Age issues and dollar boxes sitting below amazing original comic art.
Though it’s not exactly a comic book shop, and it’s not really in Los Angeles, the City of Industry’s Frank & Son is a unique and wonderful anomaly worth inclusion on this list. A large, nondescript warehouse in a commercial area near the railroad tracks, the most esoteric comics and collectible merchants from three counties gather under one roof for a few hours each week. Think of Frank & Son as a miniature, semi-permanent comic book convention: tables and booths in the humongous space are rented out to diverse sellers specifically hawking comic books and graphic novels, toys, sports memorabilia and the unusual, often at deep discounts. Before you make the trek to the City of Industry, keep in mind that Frank & Son is only open Saturdays and Wednesday afternoons.
One of the most aesthetically unique comic shops in Los Angeles, Blastoff is brightly lit and filled with wood shelving and fixtures. The unorthodox setting highlights the shop’s smaller, curated selection of comics and graphic novels alongside original art, statues and framed classic issues for sale. These classics, dating to the early 20th century, come not only from the owner's stash, but from the personal collections of local comics creators who trust Blastoff to sell these rare and unusual show-pieces. Anchored by the handsomely framed comics, all-wood interior and a sizable magazine rack filled with classic pulp novels, Blastoff exudes an air of old-school class fitting its trendy North Hollywood neighborhood.
Certainly Santa Monica’s premier comic book shop, Hi De Ho also lays claim to being the Los Angeles area’s oldest, in business since 1977. Though no longer at its original location near the promenade, Hi De Ho has taken over a much larger, almost cavernous space which is now filled to the absolute brim with new and classic comic books, toys and collectibles. Befitting its legacy as a shop that’s been around for a while, Hi De Ho’s shelves contain out-of-print, overlooked and hard-to-find classics and oddballs that are guaranteed to delight even the most jaded comics reader.
One of LA’s most legendary and influential comic book shops, Golden Apple is also one of its most comprehensively stocked. Opened in 1979 on Melrose, Golden Apple’s location on one of the city’s most classically hip boulevards drew in just about every celebrity with an interest in comic books. An old comics-scene joke suggests that know-nothing studio executives could always make money by stopping into Golden Apple and buying the rights to whatever was selling on that particular day. Though it has moved to a somewhat smaller storefront further east on Melrose, its shelves continue to hold multitudes and it reigns as Hollywood’s go-to comic shop.
Skylight Books is one of LA's most influential and innovative independent book stores. Just a few doors down from their main shop is Skylight Books' art book store, a slightly smaller storefront focusing on visually-forward publications. Though not specifically a comic shop, no list of great comic shops could exclude Skylight’s remarkable selection of graphic novels and independent comics. Though they make it easy to find the latest and greatest in literary and art comics, Skylight Books also showcases zines and mini-comics made by local talent, providing a platform for the next generation of great comics.
A more or less bare-bones space in Culver City, Pulp Fiction’s customers come out in droves for their "All The Time" sale on graphic novels and trade paperbacks. The large space is mostly dedicated to more mainstream titles from the larger comic book publishers, but this dedication manifests as a rich back-issue stock. In addition to deep discounts on brand new (as well as old) hard and softcover comics, Pulp Fiction fosters a community amongst its customers, with book clubs, comics-focused events and a dedicated all-ages section. The Culver City outpost is the second of two Pulp Fictions, with the first in Long Beach.