No, it isn't raining in Los Angeles. That precipitation you see outside is runoff from the tears streaming down the faces of thousands of nerds, comic book fans, comedy aficionados, performers, and countless others who called Meltdown Comics home for the past 25 years. On Wednesday, news broke that after a quarter-century of purveying geeky goodness to the greater Los Angeles area, Meltdown Comics and the Nerdmelt Showroom would be closing their doors for good on March 30, 2018.
On its surface, the closure of Meltdown Comics may seem like yet another casualty of the Amazon era, a relic of a bygone age in a world where people either order their comics online or read them digitally. Or perhaps it's simply a casualty of the changing face of Los Angeles, which seems destined to have luxury condos erected upon its aging bones. None of that matters now, though, because the deed is done. Meltdown Comics is dead. Long live Meltdown Comics.
Image: Justin Sewell/Flickr
Anyone who spent time at Meltdown Comics could tell that it wasn't your typical comic book shop. It was enormous. Its neon sign shined like a beacon of hope to weary souls from all over Los Angeles looking for a place to take respite from the slings and arrows of the outside world. Inside its sprawling halls, you could pore over tomes collecting classic comics, read the newest spandex-clad superhero stories, peruse a robust collection of indie comics and zines made by local creators, agonize over whether you wanted to spend your paycheck on vintage action figures, go on a high-fantasy adventure in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, laugh until your sides hurt seeing some of the funniest comedians in Los Angeles in the theater up the back--the list goes on and on and on. That's because at Meltdown, the possibilities felt limitless. It was the kind of place where you were just as likely to see Robin Williams stop in to do an unannounced stand-up set as you were to find that one issue of Swamp Thing your collection was so sorely missing.
Much like the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater gave rise to a generation of comedians that cracked us up on TV and in movies, Meltdown and its theater--which was curated in association with Nerdist--the Nerdmelt Showroom served as a launching pad for some of the funniest and most creative individuals in Hollywood to hone their craft before breaking big. What began as Kumail Nanjiani, Jonah Ray, and Emily V. Gordon's weekly stand-up showcase transformed into a television show on Comedy Central. A recording studio in the building's attic served as ground zero for Chris Hardwick's sprawling media empire, beginning with the podcast formerly known as The Nerdist Podcast. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. It allowed so many artists, writers, comedians, performers, and fans to have a shared community of creative, nerdy, wonderful people who came together to wear their passions on their sleeve in what felt like an oasis. As a cultural institution and a community center, Meltdown will be sorely missed.
Here's a letter written by Meltdown Comics founder Gaston Dominguez-Letelier:
To The City of Angels,
As is the case with all good things, at some point they must come to an end. Meltdown Comics is no exception to this rule and so, after 25 years coveting every comic treasure we could lay our hands on, I’m sharing that on March 30th I’ll be closing our doors for the final time.
No business is easy, least of all one rooted in paper surrounded by brick and mortar, yet against all odds we survived just long enough to host, share, and celebrate some of the most creative and imaginative artists in the world. It has been my personal privilege to welcome so many incredibly talented minds through our doors giving them and their work a home in this great city of ours.
And what a wonderfully surreal run it’s been… we’ve watched every fad, trend, and next big thing come and go while customers became celebrities, children blossomed to adults, geeks morphed into moguls, and fanboys scored Oscars. Throughout it all, I’ve been most fortunate to be surrounded by my family and the best staff anyone could have ever wished for - through thick and thin you supported Meltdown and invested in me, I will never be able to repay you but know that I am eternally grateful and forever in your debt.
As I prepare to extinguish Sunset’s neon know that there is a new path for me (more later) and I close Meltdown without any regret. For 25 years I have been enriched by every inquisitive mind I have encountered on this journey and for that I humbly thank you, all of you.
In signing off, I urge you all to continue creating comics, buying comics, and supporting the comic book world that has given us all so much over the years.
For one last time, #LetsgoMELTDOWN!
Thank you, LA
October 26, 1993 – April 1, 2018
While Meltdown may be gone, it will never be forgotten--especially by all of us here at Nerdist. So long and thanks for all the deeply nerdy laughs.
What was your favorite memory of Meltdown Comics and the Nerdmelt Showroom? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image: LA.CityVoter