Things to Do in Los Angeles During Comic-Con

Get your pop culture fix in LA

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Secret Headquarters | Instagram by @zackq23

It’s the third week of July and you know what that means? Writers, directors, actors, cartoonists, animators, assorted creatives and super-fans go to Comic-Con in San Diego (July 18-21). Yet, whether you’re a Trekker, a Potterhead, a Marvelette or whatever we are calling Stranger Things fans, you can always get your pop culture fix right here in the City of Angels.

Star Wars Landspeeder on loan from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art | Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum, Facebook
Star Wars Landspeeder on loan from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art | Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum, Facebook

"Hollywood Dream Machines" - Petersen Automotive Museum

Now on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy is the largest exhibition of its kind in the world, featuring 50 iconic vehicles from more than 20 beloved films and TV series.

Step into the worlds of Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Blade Runner through props, design drawings and physical vehicle models that bring visions of dystopian, utopian, and science fiction worlds to life.

Curated in collaboration with the Comic-Con Museum, Hollywood Dream Machines is described by the Petersen's Executive Director Terry Karges as “the biggest exhibit of our 25th anniversary.”

Battling VR zombies in the Hologate at Two Bit Circus
Battling VR zombies in the Hologate at Two Bit Circus | Photo: @isaiahmustafa, Instagram

Two Bit Circus

Located in the Downtown L.A. Arts District, the spectacular Two Bit Circus offers a new kind of social playspace: the "World’s First Micro-Amusement Park." Spanning 38,000 square feet, Two Bit Circus features numerous game zones, from classic coin-ops to the latest in immersive entertainment and multi-person virtual reality. With so much going on, it will take more than one visit - and probably several - to experience everything.

Studio Ghibli collection at Kinokuniya Los Angeles
Studio Ghibli collection at Kinokuniya Los Angeles | Photo: @staryuzu, Instagram


If you want to get your fix of anime, manga, anime fans, Japanese cultures and the most traditional forms of cosplay, get yourself to Little Tokyo. There you can visit Kinokuniya, the venerable Japanese book and stationary (and dolls, trinkets, DVDs, etc., etc.) emporium where the Japan-obsessed go for their paper-based media. The shopping center where Kinokuniya is located (Weller Court) is also home to many cosplayers and Japanese-influenced subcultures, and you can mingle with them all year round, including Comic-Con weekend. Cosplayers get their outfits and gear at the shops around the traditional Japanese Village Plaza, L.A.'s longstanding hub of anime and manga fandom.

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Photo courtesy of Secret Headquarters, Facebook

Secret Headquarters

What would Comic-Con be without comic books? Well, at this point, probably the same, since Hollywood super productions (Marvel in particular) and genre TV have reoriented the convention’s mission (to the regret of a lot of comics fans) towards high-end, spectacular and audiovisual. Devotees of graphic literature still have several good options for their reading needs, including Silver Lake’s Secret Headquarters, the little comics boutique that could. Still going strong with a good selection of mainstream, superhero, alternative, and indie titles, and staffed by an unusually diverse and knowledgeable team of booksellers, SH will put the “comic” of Comic-con back at the center, where it should have always remained.

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Photo courtesy of Wacko, Facebook

Wacko & Ozzy Dots

Up the street on Sunset, lovers of novelties, books, figurines, trinkets and also costumes (and who isn’t) can work on their pop-culture-infused costumes and decorations at Wacko and Ozzy Dots. Wacko (officially known as Soap Plant Wack) just celebrated its 47th birthday as L.A.'s largest and most famous novelty store, which also houses the art gallery La Luz de Jesus. The figurative pop surrealism La Luz is known for (think Juxtapoz magazine and street art) has always been extremely simpatico to comics and pop culture iconography, and it syncs perfectly from the more alternative aspects of fan culture that have always been connected to the original spirit of Comic-Con.

Ozzy Dots is a veritable costume warehouse in a tiny shop and it’s worth a visit anytime except Halloween day, when all the last-minute revelers create a mob scene within and outside the store.

Universal Studios Hollywood

And if high-end characters, official movie franchises, plentiful snacks and all-ages selfie ops are your thing, head straight to the one and only Universal Studios Hollywood. Fans wait a whole year to attend Comic-Con and experience the kind of big-budget, tentpole-tie-in extravaganzas that we enjoy all year. Opened just in time for Comic-Con, Jurassic World - The Ride is a new epic adventure that's part expedition and part heart-pounding water ride. Experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, run away from the Walking Dead, pop by the Simpsons Kwik-E-Mart, and generally enjoy splurging on the kind of high-octane, adrenaline-pumping entertainment that only Tinseltown can create.

Ed Kwon performs at the Magic Castle | Instagram by @edkwon1902
Ed Kwon performs at the Magic Castle | Instagram by @edkwon1902

Magic Castle

Many people go to Comic-Con to get a little of the magic of cinema up close and personal. If magic is what you’re looking for, there’s no need to drive all the way almost to Tijuana—Los Angeles is of course home to the world-famous Magic Castle, a legendary private club for magicians that features different types of illusions, from the intimate to the Vegas-ready. Getting in is a little difficult (you have to know a magician, a non-magician member, or stay at the nearby Magic Castle Hotel), and you do have to dress up, but the hoops they make you jump through are 100% worth it.

Aquaman exhibit | Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
Aquaman exhibit | Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

DC Universe feat. Aquaman - Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

The newest addition to DC Universe: The Exhibit at Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood features the King of the Seven Seas, Aquaman. Fans get a close-up view of the actual costumes and props used in the blockbuster 2018 film and recreated sets from the movie’s most memorable moments, including the Sunken Galleon, the Ring of Fire, and the epic underwater battle between Aquaman and King Orm. DC Universe also showcases costumes and props from Wonder Woman (2017). And Bat-fans will love the "Batcave" - an incredible display of vehicles from throughout the Caped Crusader's movie career.

Hugh Jackman at the Hollywood Bowl
Hugh Jackman | Photo: Hollywood Bowl, Facebook

Hugh Jackman - Hollywood Bowl (July 19-20, 2019)

For X-Men fans, Hugh Jackman will forever be known as Wolverine, a role he played from X-Men (2000) to Logan (2017). Jackman was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for having "the longest career as a live-action Marvel superhero." But there's much more to Jackman than his 17-year run as a mutant. The Academy Award®–nominated and Golden Globe®– and Tony Award®-winning performer will be at the Hollywood Bowl for two nights, July 19-20. Jackman will perform hit songs from The Greatest Showman, Les Misérables, and more from Broadway and film, accompanied by a live orchestra.

The bar at Scum & Villainy Cantina in Hollywood
Photo: Scum & Villainy Cantina, Facebook

Scum & Villainy Cantina Con (July 20, 2019)

On Saturday, July 20, Scum & Villainy Cantina presents the Scum & Villainy Cantina Con, aka Cantina Con. Unlike that "other" Con, there are no badges, tickets or reservations required.

SAVCC Schedule of Events:

  • Noon - 5pm: Fan Film Festival featuring Constantine: Last Rites, Solo: A Smuggler's Trade, Unlimited Power, Hughes the Force, and Summer '78. More TBA.
  • 6pm - 8pm: Geek Trivia. Test your knowledge on DC Comics, Star Wars, the MCU, Transformers, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and a miscellaneous round. This is a team trivia event.
  • 9pm - close: Get your galactic groove on with DJ Elliot and Rubin Ervin.

Doors open at noon. Raffle prizes throughout the day and a costume contest that night.

"Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" movie poster
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi | Photo: IMDb

"Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" at Cinespia (July 21, 2019)

Launched in 2002, Cinespia hosts classic films at historic sites across L.A. Cinespia shows films from the 1930s through the 1990s, mostly in open-air settings at historic locations. Its most popular series runs weekly between May and August on Saturday (and occasionally Sunday) nights at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The alfresco Cemetery Screenings take place on the Fairbanks Lawn, named for the adjacent crypt housing both Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Jr. Guests picnic under the stars and watch films digitally projected against the wall of the Cathedral Mausoleum, which houses the crypt of Rudolph Valentino among many others. The 2019 season kicked off on May 11 with "Beetlejuice."

Star Wars fans will have one more chance to experience a film from the original trilogy at the landmark Ford Theatres: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is screening at 8:30pm on Sunday, July 21. Tickets are $20 and on sale at the Cinespia website.

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) movie poster
Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) | Photo: IMDb

"Godzilla vs. Gigan" - Vista Theatre (July 21, 2019)

On July 21, the historic Vista Theatre in Los Feliz is hosting the Secret Movie Club screening of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) in 35mm. Part of the Kaiju Summer series, Godzilla vs. Gigan features the Big "G" and Anguirus teaming up to save the Earth from Gigan and King Ghidorah. Secret Movie Club programmer Craig Hammill describes the monster battle royales as "some of the best in the entire Showa series." The matinee screening starts at 11am. Tickets on sale at Eventbrite.

The Dollface Dames "Geek to Chic" Sailor Moon
"Geek to Chic" | Photo: The Dollface Dames, Facebook

The Dollface Dames: Nerdlesque Edition - R6 Distillery (July 28, 2019)

Want to keep the Comic-Con vibe going? On Sunday, July 28, The Dollface Dames and The Smoky Hollow Tasting & Taproom present Nerdlesque Edition - vintage entertainment in a real speakeasy. Enter through the R6 Distillery and enjoy dance and variety acts bringing your favorite comic book, anime, TV, and movie characters to life in the intimate speakeasy. Nerdlesque Edition stars Athena Elixir, Krystal Kurio, Maxine Fatale, Sangria Rose, and host Jessi Belle. Dress code: Geek, Vintage, or Dress to impress. Must be 21+ to enter. *Tips for the performers are appreciated, so bring your green.

Only ticketed patrons will be allowed to access this magical world - there are just 50 seats at this hidden gem, so get your tickets at Eventbrite before it sells out!