Dear Julie (Tribute to Julie Schwartz)

Dear Julie:

My friend, and editor, Maggie Thompson sent me a short e-mail note the other day telling me that you had recently suffered a fall at home, and that you were hospitalized yet again. With this news in mind, she told me that she was organizing an informal tribute issue to you in which all the writers at CBG might express what you've meant to them over the years. I want you to know that Maggie most certainly didn't have to ask me twice to pause in my current series of columns about the origins of the Direct Market to spend some time paying tribute to you. Actually, Maggie simply provided me with a very welcome opportunity to say some things to you that I've wanted to say for many years, but have (foolishly) held back because of my fear of revealing the complete fanboy that resides under my usual business-like public persona.

I'll start off by saying that seeing you in person, either at a comics convention or at the DC offices, has always brightened my day. In all of our many encounters I cannot recall one single time in which you did anything less than make me feel wonderful. I've always believed that you get the true measure of a person is not when life is going well, but when unexpected difficulties arise. Do you recall when you came to sign autographs at the Mile High Comics stores in April of 1993, along with 10 other DC creators? Not only did you help me keep calm among that sometimes difficult group of creators (and their families...) during all the various "Return of Superman" signing parties I'd arranged at our six stores, but you also stood up for me when things blew up with the hotel. I'll bet that you've long ago forgotten that 6 AM phone call from the hotel management telling you that my credit card guaranteeing the rooms had declined, and demanding from you another form of payment. I have no idea why they chose to call you of all the guests, but you remained completely calm. When I arrived to have breakfast with everyone at 8 AM you very nicely told me of the problem, and went so far as to help me figure out what had gone wrong.

As it turned out, some overnight staffer at the hotel had made a computer entry error, and tried to charge someone else's credit card. The management at the hotel were over the top in their apologies to both of us for the inconvenience they had caused, and even sent me a letter of apology. While ultimately being vindicated in such an embarrassing situation is nice, I found it far more enlightening to see how you gave me the benefit of the doubt right from the beginning, and defended me even when some others in the group were being less charitable. That is a kindness that I never will forget.

I believe that it was that very same evening that I took you, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Curt Swan, and your spouses to an incredible restaurant high on the side of a mountain overlooking my home town of Boulder, Colorado. The Flagstaff House has a well-earned four stars, and is arguably the best restaurant in Colorado. As for the views from its heated outdoor veranda, they are stupendous. Not only can you see every street in Boulder below you, but the larger buildings in Denver (20 miles away) are also quite visible on clear evenings. While the setting for that dinner was certainly beautiful, my remembrances of that evening were that I was blessed to be a fly on the wall, privy to a wonderful and engaging conversation between old friends about their shared lives during 40 years together in the comics world. While organizing that "Return of Superman" signing tour ultimately turned out to be a very onerous organizational and logistic difficulty, I would instantly jump at the chance to do it all over again simply to be able to relive the pleasure of that one evening at the Flagstaff House.

While that was the only time that you came to Colorado, we have since seen each other at many, many conventions. You have no idea how surprised I was at first when you even remembered my name. I am, after all, just another comics dealer. In the general caste hierarchy that rules the attribution of status within the comics world, my experience has been that dealers are frequently treated as an "untouchables" caste by many. You only need look at the depictions of comics dealers in the comics themselves to get an idea of how we are universally disdained. The fact that you've taken the time to say "Hello" each year at the San Diego convention never ceases to amaze me. If you'll pardon the expression, it's somewhat akin to having the Pope (or at least a Cardinal...) stop by to visit with a souvenir vendor in St. Mark's Square. The fact that you have been so incredibly kind to me is a testament to the essence of your personality that has made you so beloved in the world of comics.

In closing, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with the world of comics through some incredibly difficult periods. While there have been some moments of great success and prosperity in the comics world during the past 60 years, there have also been some incredibly dark days. You have been a member of a very small stalwart group of leaders within the comics world who have kept the candle burning. Now that I'm approaching my 50th birthday, if I have one remaining lifetime goal within the comics world, it is that I somehow find the strength and energy to keep fighting the good fight as well as you have done. You are one of the genuine heroes in my life, and I hope and pray that I can someday find some way to make you proud of me.

With all my love and respect,
Chuck Rozanski

Please send your e-mails to chuck@milehighcomics.com, and your letters to:

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221



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