A guide to NE Kansas comic shops
–by Stephen Schleicher
I spent the weekend going to several comic book shops in the Kansas City, Lawrence, and Topeka areas. I scored quite a load of comics, filled many holes in my ever growing collection, and picked up a few extras along the way. There are some good shops, some bad shops, and a few really great shops for you to snag your favorite current and back issues.
TIP: I’m more than willing to drive all over the place to purchase hard to find and rare comics to add to my collection. But some of the sticker prices stores are asking are extremely high even for those who have a lot of money to spend. A great tip is to ask if the store will give you a discount if you buy a certain number of comics or if your total goes over a certain amount. This worked in nearly every store I visited.
A to Z Comics
Blue Spring, MO
I’ve been to this store on Saturdays and that appears to be card game day at A to Z Comics as the back half of the store is packed with kids (mostly older teen) playing the Magic and whatever other game is popular at the moment. Even though it can be noisy and crowded, card games are probably keeping A to Z Comics in business, so that can be forgiven.
They do have all of the normal comics one would expect, as well as a fine assortment of toys, shirts, and posters. But for any collector looking for back issues ranging from mid 60s through present day A to Z Comics is a hidden gold mine. After you figure out the somewhat quirky organization method, you’ll be amazed at what you can find. Right at the front door the owner has set aside every Batman related title (sans Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey). There are a surprising number of back issues collected here, but unfortunately they are not all in pristine condition for the price they are asking.
I received a 20% discount.
B Bop Comics
5836 W 95th Street Prairie Village
There is another B Bop Comics in KC proper, but I haven’t had the chance to visit there. The branch located at W 95th Street is in a nice location and easy to get to for anyone near 95th and Metcalf. B Bop Comics features most of the popular titles in the bins that go back to around the mid 80s, and the prices appear to be on par with the rest of the region. There is a very large 50 cent bin at this branch location. Several customers digging through the stacks while I was there were happy with their finds.
B Bop has a larger than normal collection of Manga titles and was the only store I visited that had plenty of bags (both Modern and Silver Age) in stock. Their toy selection is nice, but don’t expect to find rare items. Instead, they tend to stock the most recent releases.
I did not receive a discount here.
The Battle Zone
11752 W 95th Street, Overland Park
As the name implies, not many comics will be found here as their main focus is games – specifically the Wiz Kids games like HeroClix, Mage Knight, Mech Warrior and more. There are no back issues to be found.
10160 W 119th Street, Overland Park
It has been a couple of years since I’ve been into this store, but the last time I was there they did not have many comics. Like Battle Zone they tend to focus on games, cards, and sports. They did have a range of action figures, but nothing you couldn’t find elsewhere.
5404 NW 64th Steet, MO
Wow. If you want titles from the 60s and 70s, this is the place to go! I would say Comic Cavern has the best selection and widest title range of any of the stores I have been to. In addition to an impressive back issue bin for comics, Comic Cavern features popular magazines and hard to find titles related to the industry. This is also the only store that features adult titles.
Comic Cavern is also quite a drive from the Overland Park area, but well worth the trip. The only problem with this store is they didn’t have the air conditioner on the day I was there, making it stifling inside. This is something that should cause some concern among collectors as extreme temperature changes can cause problems with older titles. Sadly I was not able to get some of Batman titles from the early 60s because mildew had built up inside the bags and on the pages. And no one in their right mind will pay $35 for a title that is essentially destroyed. This isn’t the case for every back issue, but it saddens me to discover titles in this condition.
Still, the store score high marks for having a big selection at good prices.
I received a 10% discount.
11842 Quivira Road, Overland Park
Elite Comics is one of my favorite stops. Not only do they have nearly every title released since early 80s, they have that collection well organized. Elite Comics also has an impressive collection of toys and statues on display for purchase. The store manager (owner?) is very nice, knows his comics, and is more than willing to help you track down a missing title.
I received a 15% discount.
Mass Street, Lawrence, KS
Back in the day, Kwality Komics was the bomb of Lawrence. Today it is a murky little shop that has the most recent issues of the popular titles, but the back issue bin has been picked through for the last 20 years to the point where you will be lucky to find what you are looking for. There are hardly any related products (posters, toys, etc.) to be purchased here.
I received a 10% discount.
15 E7th, Lawrence, KS
Once upon a time there was a great store called Mass Street Comics located in the heart of the trendy shopping area of Lawrence. At some point the store folded and one of the managers decided to open another store on one of the side streets. AstroKitty is located in an old building (1890-1920s) and shares the space with several other boutiques. The building itself has lots of characters and is worth a stop inside.
The manger (owner?) on duty has always been a very friendly person and is willing to help you out in any way he can. Like the fate of many comic stores, AstroKitty has been reduced to keeping current titles in stock, and has a large collection of related toys, and even some older ones in the back corner if you look close enough. The once great back issue bin housed at Mass Street Comics is now only a dozen boxes.
If you are looking to pick up your regular titles, AstroKitty is a great place to go to in Lawrence, but collectors won’t find much in the bins.
I didn’t buy anything here.
The Gate Keeper
4123 SW Gage Center, Topeka, KS
The Gate Keeper has recently moved from their digs on 21st Street to a new location in Gage Plaza. The move has certainly been a good one. Well lit and easy to navigate, the store is divided nicely between game gear, current titles, and back issues. The staff is always willing and eager to help, and do know their titles. Like many of the stores on this list, The Gate Keeper’s back issue bin goes back to the mid 80s, although under lock and key they do have some titles from the 60s and 70s that appear to be in very good to very fine condition.
While at their location on 21st Street, The Gate Keeper had a back room for gamers to do their stuff and allow readers to do their thing. I didn’t see such a room in the new location, but I wasn’t really looking either. Their toy collection is not as big as it once was, but if you want something, they can probably order it.
As far as I know this is the only comic shop in Topeka.
For every $100 you spend, you get a $5 discount.