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Denver, Colorado - Summer 1977

I was getting bored with the late 1970s Marvels since there was no Stan Lee, Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko in the books then and I was looking for an excuse to quit collecting new comics. I found it when I joined the U.S. Air Force. I left my hometown of Savannah, Georgia for 6 weeks of basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas in May 1977. However, I still liked collecting the 1960s Marvels, EC comics and other science fiction related comic books. So when I graduated basic training and was assigned to technical training school at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado, I resumed the search for those type of comics.

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Journey Into Mystery #33

1956 & #55 1959 

Chuck Rozanski sold me a few pre-Marvels he had in the basement to one of his comic book shops. But why he didn't he tell me about his Mile High collection he had found a few months earlier?

I didn't  have a car but a Denver city bus stopped at Lowry's front gate and carried you downtown. I spent many weekends prowling around used bookstores and comic book stores in Denver for 3 months in the summer of 1977. I didn't buy a lot of comics but I did have a little luck. It wasn't long before I met the main player on the comic book scene in Denver, Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics. I was in a comic store sniffing around as usual on a weekend and struck up a conversation with the owner, a guy who looked like a hippie since he had a ponytail hairstyle. It was Chuck Rozanski. He knew I was interested in older comics but he didn't have a lot of them on display in his store. So, he took me down a flight of steps to a small basement where he had some shelves stacked with older comic books. I didn't find much of what I liked but Chuck did have a small stack of pre-Marvel monster books which I'm always fond of. I still have all that he sold me but I can only remember for sure 2 of them, Journey Into Mystery #33 and #54. I remember Chuck saying he liked those old Journey Into Mystery comics himself. I showed these to a friend back at Lowry and he was impressed with my taste in comic books. I was in another of Chuck's stores sometime later and he stopped in for a few minutes to give instructions to his manager behind the cash register counter, and that's the last I ever saw of Chuck in Denver.

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Out Of This World #1, 1950

This Avon sci-fi comic has a Joe Kubert story.

Also during that summer another Air Force friend at the base and I took a bus trip to Boulder which was a little college town north of Denver. There were some used bookstores and comic book stores but I didn't find anything interesting.

Denver, Colorado - Winter 1981

After graduating from training school at Lowry AFB, I was assigned to Mather AFB in Sacramento, California for 4 years starting in the fall of 1977. In 1981 I wasn't going to re-enlist unless I could be allowed to transfer to the Air Force's audio-visual career field. The Air Force agreed and sent me to the training school for motion picture photography which was at Lowry AFB in Denver. So I was back in Denver again for another 4 months in the winter of 1981. Unlike my 1977 sojourn at Lowry AFB where I had to ride the bus to search for old comic books, this time I had my a car which made it easier. But like the last time, I didn't have that much luck.

I did meet one guy who worked in a shoe repair shop owned by his dad. This guy liked comics and dealt in them as a sideline. He had some on display in the shoe shop. He had a box of older better comics behind the counter which I couldn't afford or didn't want. One of them was a Fantastic Four #3 in Very Good / Fine condition but was to pricey for me. I made one trip out to his house one night and bought a Journey Into Mystery with Thor. I don't remember which one, maybe #105.

The shoe shop guy knew all the comic dealers in Denver and some out of Denver. He advised me to visit an older man who owned a comic store named Security Comics in Colorado Springs which was a small town south of Denver. So I drove down to Security Comics one weekend and looked around. The owner could tell I had been around the comic collecting hobby for awhile and he joked that he was hoping I wouldn't clean him out of all his high grade books. The only books I ended up cleaning him out of for about 3.00 each was a high grade stack of Rip Hunter Time Master # 16, 17,19, 22, 23, 24 and 26. I held onto these for 19 years until 2000 when I sold them on ebay for more than 3.00 each.

I also met another collector who invited me over to house. He didn’t have much but I did buy a Journey Into Mystery #34 and was pleased to get an Avon science fiction comic Out Of This World #1 from 1950. This fellow also showed me one of his favorite collectibles, a set of the 1950s Mars Attacks trading cards which I had never heard of before. He did whet my appetite for this spectacularly gruesome card set and I finally did manage buy a set in 2012.

Mile High Musings

On this second visit to Denver in winter 1981 I may have visited some of Chuck Rozanski's Mile High comic stores but I didn't see Chuck again. I don't remember the details but during my 4 month stay in Denver this time, I was picking up by osmosis from the other comic store owners I guess the rumors and legends surrounding Chuck finding his famous Edgar Church aka Mile High collection in 1977. I do vaguely remember reading a brief essay by Chuck about it in one of his price lists or something in a comic store I was visiting. I was tickled by the part of the story that allegedly Church's family called another comic store owner listed in the Denver yellow pages first and the guy said he didn't make house calls. The family next called Chuck who was willing to drive out and take a look. I remember thinking to myself when visiting some of the non-Mile High comic stores "Are you the dumb cluck who doesn't make house calls?" However I learned about the Mile High find, I do remember telling Ron Pussell of Redbeard's Book Den about it in 1982 while visiting there.

So if I'm such a diligent comic collector and knew about this big collection, why didn't I visit a Mile High store and ask to be put in contact with Chuck? Good question. I screwed up. Maybe at the time, with my sketchy second hand information, I thought the collection was all 1940s Golden Age which I don't collect. I just don't know why I didn't show more initiative in following up the Mile High rumors in 1981 while in Denver. Later, I may have blown another chance. I remember in the very early 1980s I saw Chuck at the San Diego Con. He was in a small booth, not the bigger booths he had later. He had lots of boxes with comic books in Mylar Snugs which not all dealers were using at the time. That should have tipped me off there might be something special about those books. I still didn't bother to ask him about it. I bet now those were Mile Highs he had in those boxes. A few years later at another San Diego Con when Chuck had graduated to his larger booth I finally made a run at one of his Mile Highs. I had recently bought the Cosmic Aeroplane copy of Earth Man On Venus from Ron Pussell for $600.00. I noticed Chuck had the Mile Copy of that book on his wall. I inquired but his approximately $1,800 price tag stopped me dead in my tracks.

Over the years as I became more interested in Mile Highs I always wondered if Chuck had found the collection before or after I had first talked with him in his store in Denver and bought the pre-Marvels in the summer of 1977. I always assumed he had not yet found the collection. He knew I was a serious customer looking for older comic books and had money to spend. Why wouldn't he mention having the collection to a customer like that? Then a few years ago (I'm writing this in 2012) the trade journal Comic Buyers' Guide ran one of Chuck's articles "Tales From The Database" about his finding the Mile High collection. The article said he found it in January 1977. So he had the collection in the summer of 1977 and didn't mention it to me. Oh well, just another Mile High mystery.