The Original Mile High Collection Part VI

Part six in the story of the original discovery of the Mile High/Edgar Church collection.

Last week, I left off with the first 10,000 issues of the collection safely stacked in our tiny apartment. I had to leave behind at Edgar Church's house the 8,000 oldest issues, however, both because I was out of space in my van, and because I was out of cash. The heirs had other commitments for the following week, so they could not meet with me until the next Saturday. While the thought of having to wait that long to haul the rest of the books away was nerve-wracking, it did give me a chance to figure out a way to raise the cash with which to purchase the second half of Edgar Church's collection from his heirs.

The solution to my cash flow problem turned out to be my best customer at the Boulder store. He and I were good friends, sharing a mutual passion for Dell comics of the 1940's and early 1950's. He was (is) a computer programmer, and was pulling down a very good salary in 1977. He and his wife drove over to our apartment the next day, and I made him a proposition. If he would cash in one of his bank CD's from his savings, I would let him purchase a portion of the comics for 40% of 1976 Overstreet! He took one quick look at the collection, and immediately agreed to my plan. That was one of the smartest moves he ever made in his life, as he ended up with a return that I estimate was over 20X his original investment! For those of you who care about these things, my friend picked primarily funny animal comics in exchange for his CD. Steve Geppi bought them from him in about 1986.

With my friend's cash in hand, I was able to restore the money I had stripped from our checking account to pay for the first batch of books, and I had barely enough left to pay for the second load. At this point my greatest concern was whether the heirs would really show up on the following Saturday. While I'm sure these folks appreciated the cash I was giving them, they were far more focused on getting the house quickly emptied. My greatest fear was not that they would change their minds about the monetary terms of our agreement, but rather that they would simply decide to throw all the books away. It was clear to me, both from their attitude that they expressed to me verbally about the comics, and their sending off to the dump Mr. Church's artwork and clipping files, that these people considered everything of paper in the house to be nothing more than "trash."

One interesting sidebar to this story is that I was not the first comics dealer that the heirs contacted about the Edgar Church collection. In 1977, I was not the largest comics dealer in Denver. Another gentleman had started a comics store in downtown Denver while I was still exclusively a college student, and had grown his store into a 6,000 square foot paperback and comics store, located at the intersection of two of Denver's busiest streets. He had a large ad in the Yellow Pages, so the Realtor who eventually contacted me, called him first. This other dealer (who remains my friend to this day) declined to view the collection, because he "didn't make house calls." He told the Realtor that he would look at the books and make an offer, but only if they drove them to his store. Under no circumstances would he go to their place. That was part of the reason why the heirs were so delighted when I agreed to come to the house. They told me that after being discouraged by the other dealer's refusal to come to make a bid on the comics, that they had seriously considered throwing all the books away. It was only because the cubic volume of books was so large that it would have required several extra trash hauls, that they waited for my arrival.

That next week passed ever so slooowly. When Saturday morning finally came around I drove my newly repaired van (my transmission problem turned out to be a $15 disconnected hose) back to Edgar Church's house. To my delight, the heirs were there waiting for me, and the basement was just as I had left it. I immediately started hauling comics from the walk-in closet, and became more and more excited as I hit the back stacks. You see, the comics were stacked (roughly) in chronological order, with the oldest books being in the back stacks. By the time I hit the third (back) row of books I was exclusively into comics from pre-1942, and I had already seen several key #1 issues. During the week I had been waiting to return, I had dreams that the rest of the collection would continue the progression back into time that I had observed when I loaded the first batch of books, but this was beyond my wildest dreams! As near as I could tell, this was the best collection of comics ever discovered in the history of comics collecting.

When I finished loading the comics, I asked the heirs what was going to be done with all the miscellaneous paper that I had glimpsed laying in other parts of the basement. They told me they were planning to haul another huge stack out for the trash men that day, and planned to keep hauling some out each week, until it was all gone. Upon hearing that awful news, I resolved that while I had let the first batch of Edgar Church's files go to the dump, there was no way I was going to let any more be destroyed!

To be continued...

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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