The first Saturday in May (that’s May 6 this year) is always Free Comic Book Day, when participating comic book shops around the world give away comic books for free. No strings attached; it’s all about spreading the love of comics far and wide. Here are 8 of the hottest shops in LA that cater to kids and their Marvel-ous super powered dreams.

photo: Pop Culture Geek via Creative Commons

The Comic Bug
Welcoming owners Jun Goeku and Mike Wellman will guide you to find a comic that is just the right fit for your interests. Love Marvel movies? They’ll recommend a companion story for you. Is your little sidekick into classic superheroes? They’ll find a back issue to get you started. The kid’s section offers classics like DC’s Tiny Titans, Peanuts and Star Wars, as well as television-related titles like KaBoom’s Adventure Time and Amazing World of Gumball. Tween readers can even find trades of the award-winning Jeff Smith comic, Bone. The Comic Bug is a great starting place for kids and families just getting into comics. Knowledgeable and helpful staff makes sure you’ll get all your questions answered on age-appropriate books and hottest new comics releases, and their enthusiasm is infectious.

Free Comic Book Day Bonus: This place goes all out, with a full 2-day weekend for Free Comic Book Day filled with meet & greets, cosplayers, free refreshments, clothing and toys and thousands of free comics!

The Comic Bug has two locations, in Manhattan Beach, and Culver City.Check the website for addresses and hours.
Online: thecomicbug.com

FCBD-BraveNewWorldphoto: Brave New World

Brave New World
The Eisner Award winning store in Newhall has one of the finest selections of comics, graphic novels, manga, games and pop culture goodies that we’ve seen, but the main reason we love it is how friendly and welcoming it is. There are always great events, places for kids to play or color or games in progress you can drop in on. This store is female owned and operated and full of family friendly collectibles. Be sure to check out the unique store-within-a-store, the Geek Boutique, that sells handmade fan-made geek crafts, often including adorable geek baby wear. The shop has just totally renovated and looks gorgeous and they tell us they have some surprises in store for Free Comic Book Day!

Girl Power Bonus: Geeky Girls unite! Since girls own the shop it’s a total gathering place for girls of all ages who love comics and other “geek” things.

22722 Lyons Ave.
Newhall
661-259-4745
Online: bravenewworldcomics.com

photo: Sandy Y. via Yelp

Meltdown Comics & Collectibles
As one of the roomiest shops in the bunch, Meltdown will most definitely have what you’re looking for whether it’s the hottest comics on the rack, graphic novels, manga or anime plush toys to snuggle with. For pint-sized newbies, the staff highly recommends Owly, a delightful comic about an owl, his sidekick Wormy the Worm and a ragtag bunch of forest critters. The Adventuretime comics are big sellers here as well and are filled with laughs for little ones. In addition to their vast kids’ lit section, the store offers an after-school class every Thursday that teaches drawing, reading and writing comic books to youngsters. The age range is usually 7 to 12, but 6-year-olds are welcome to try one out and see if it’s a fit. Also, as kids get bigger, this store has fabulous meet and greets with a whole range of people from the comic world.

Booty Bonus: Throughout the store, there are chairs and comfy sofas a plenty for kids to chillax with a good read.

7522 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood
323-851-7223
Online: meltdowncomics.com

Golden_Apple_Comicsphoto: Jennifer O’Brien

Golden Apple Comics
Golden Apple’s passionate staff lives and breathes comics, so who better to visit for your kiddos’ inaugural time out. Here, the salespeople not only aim to energize tykes with the fantastical worlds comics offer, but also really make a point to promote literacy as well. Top picks for tots include Archie, Smurfs, Adventuretime, My Little Pony and X-Babies among others. You can’t miss the kids’ section when you walk in, just keep an eye peeled for R2-D2 (hello, that alone’s worth a visit). From time to time, there are also in-store shindigs for kids and the toy shelf currently has all the Pop! Vinyl toys any comic or TV fan could ask for.

Treats Galore Bonus: You are a stones throw from 4 of the best ice cream spots in the city. Head east to Larchmont Blvd. for Salt & Straw and the brand new Jeni’s, South for Milk’s fab ice cream sandwiches, and southwest to Sweet Rose. So this comic stop comes with a requisite sweet treat. The kids won’t mind.

7018 Melrose Ave.
Mid-City
323-658-6047
Online: goldenapplecomics.com

Galaxy of Comics Via Facebook 1photo: Galaxy of Comics via Facebook

Galaxy of Comics
With an uber friendly, helpful owner at its helm, Galaxy of Comics takes the intimidation out the comic book shop experience for first-timers. The store boasts an extensive kids’ section that’s clearly marked so no more digging through racks and racks of who knows what. Title recommendations for tykes include Hulk, Batman, Tinkerbell and Avatar: The Last Airbender. In addition to its fab selection, the store offers weekly drawing classes for kids of all ages taught by a former comic book artist who even supplies all materials needed.  There are also monthly (at least!) events and weekly game nights.

Brunch Bonus: On Sundays, this spot doesn’t open til noon (it opens at 11 a.m. most other mornings), so if you and the littles are up early, head across the street first for a tasty and all-organic brunch at The Humble Bee Bakery. While there’s no kid’s menu, it’s all very kid appealing, and portions are perfect for sharing.

17306 Saticoy St.
Van Nuys
818-578-8559
Online: galaxyofcomics.com

 

Metropolis Comics
Red Tricycle reader Matt Titus, recommended that we drive to Bellflower (on the LA/OC border) and check them out, because they always offer each kid their first comic book for free! This is a place that looooooves their comics and will get little fan as excited as they are about the genre. So if you can’t make it to a comic store on the first Saturday of May, you can always head here for your freebie, anytime!

Pirate Booty Bonus: The store is right across from an awesome Pirate Park. So if this is a drive for you, you can totally make a whole morning or afternoon out of the trip.

16509 Bellflower Blvd.
Bellflower
562-263-0277
Online: metrohero.com

Secret_Headquarters_3photo: Jennifer O’Brien

The Secret Headquarters
This sophisticated shop looks more like something you’d find on a cozy London side street instead of hipster-heavy Silver Lake. From the minute you enter, you know you’ve discovered something special. Dark wooden bookcases stocked with brightly-colored comics feel as though they must surely open up to reveal a superhero’s hidden lair. Here, staff picks for kiddos include the TOON Books, Owly and Sesame Street. Secret Headquarters doesn’t sell toys, t-shirts and other action hero hubbub. They refreshingly stick to what they do best, comics.

Foodie Bonus: To help keep your comic mojo going, Intelligentsia Coffee is across the street and Pazzo Gelato is a few doors down for dessert. Better hit that last one after Secret Headquarters—sticky fingers and all that shizzle.

3817 W. Sunset Blvd.
Silverlake
323-666-2228
Online: thesecretheadquarters.com

House_of_Secrets_Via_Facebook_7photo: House of Secrets via Facebook

House of Secrets
Between the groovy selection and super duper friendly staff, House of Secrets hits every mark when it comes to introducing tiny tots to the world of comics. The shop’s gurus are big fans of Tiny Titans, Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo as starter reads for littles. On the manga front, Speed Racer and Astro Boy are top picks. The kids’ section is extremely organized and easy to find, and women and children receive 25% off standard cover prices. That’s a better deal than they got on the Titanic!

Tired Mum Bonus: There’s a cushy sofa next to the children’s’ section where wayward moms (and girlfriends) can hang while their little (or big) kids pore over the racks.

1930 W. Olive St.
Burbank
818-562-1900
Online: artoffiction.com

What comic books do your tots devour? We’d love to hear what they’re reading!  If you need some suggestions to get you started, these are our favorite comics for kids.

–Jennifer O’Brien