I've often been asked what when through my mind when I first realized that I had stumbled across the greatest accumulation of Golden Age comics ever discovered. Frankly, even after 25 years have gone by, it still gives me chills to think about staring at that huge closet stacked to the rafters with mint Golden Age comics. The deal had already been made at that point, so there was no question of how much I was going to have to pay for the books. The only question was just how good the collection would end up being. I couldn't see but a very few of the covers of the comics in the closet, but those that I saw ran the gamut of every 1940's super-hero title. Clearly, this was going to be incredible!
Throughout the initial negotiations I had been excited, but had managed to keep my euphoria in check. It wasn't hard, really, as the comics that were piled on the basement floor were mostly under $10 each in the 1976 Guide, and many were even under $5. Good stuff, but nothing to get crazy about. It wasn't until the negotiations were over, and the surprise closet full of Golden Age was opened, that I was finally overwhelmed with emotion. My mouth became so dry that I asked for a glass of water. When it arrived, I was staring at the closet, while leaning against the basement wall for support. I couldn't take my eyes off that closet, and became so transfixed that when I tried to take a drink from the glass, I ended up missing my mouth entirely, and poured most of the glass of water right down the front of my shirt. Fortunately, no water spilled on any of the comics.
Believe it or not, what was going through my mind as I was looking at the closet was fear. Not just a fear that the deal would get screwed up somehow, but also a realization that my life was about to radically change. It's one thing to have slowly built up a small business over a period of many years, and quite another to suddenly win the lottery. I could see very clearly that discovering this collection was going to completely change my life, and that nothing would ever again be the same. I was excited at that prospect, but also very trepidatious. Radical change can be good, but it can also destroy much of that which you hold most dear.
It was at this point that I made a vow to my inner God. I vowed that if I could pull off buying this deal that I would use the proceeds to help build the world of comics for the rest of my life. I hesitate to even mention this vow, as more than once I have been ridiculed in the press for sounding so idealistic and naive. Well, what my critics fail to understand is that I had just gone through four years of living a counterculture lifestyle. After starting life as a staunch conservative, I had been radicalized during my days at college, and ended up being an active member of the far left. I participated in anti-war demonstrations, candlelight vigils, and picketed Safeway for the United Farm Workers. I also delved into alternative religions, and experimented with every kind of hallucinogen known. From those experiences I gained a sense of inner strength and well being that allowed me to abandon my college scholarship, and instead make the decision to live in a car so I could follow my dream of being a comics dealer. If that isn't idealistic and naive, then I don't know what it takes to qualify. All I know is that I had very strong convictions (which I still hold) that we are all on this earth for a purpose. Finding this incredible collection was completely altering my destiny, and I was determined that I would repay the fates for my good fortune. Vowing to help the world of comics recover from the economic malaise of the early 1970's seemed the right thing to promise at the time.
After I made my vow, it was time to haul comics up out of the basement. I had parked in front of the house, but the basement exited to the rear door, so I drove my old Chevy window van into the alley. It was at this point that I got my first clue that not all was right with this deal. Piled by the trash cans in the alley (in the snow!) was a stack of boxes about six feet long, four feet wide, and four feet high. The boxes contained all manner of clippings and artwork. There were old hardboard file boxes full of magazine and pulp covers, tons of advertising art, and there were even large cardboard posters from the 1920's and 1930's. Why would these crazy people be throwing away all this great stuff?
To be continued...
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Attn: Chuck Rozanski
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Denver, CO 80221