The Original Mile High Collection Part XVI

Part #16 of the story of the original Mile High Comics/Edgar Church collection.

One question I am frequently asked is whether I have any regrets about the fact that I sold 99% of the books from Edgar Church's collection long before they attained the lofty values that they command today. Well, that's not a simple question to answer. As a passionate comics fan, it pained me very much every time I had to say good-bye to one of those beautiful comics. On the other hand, I knew that those comics, in and of themselves, were just colored pieces of paper if I kept them all for myself. The real magic of the Mile High collection was in the potential that they represented for moving the entire world of comics collecting to a new level of interest. By selling the books, I helped create a demand for Golden Age comics that had never previously existed. That demand for older books (and some of the news media reports on the high values my former books were commanding) led to increased excitement in the Silver Age and new comics markets. Had I kept the Edgar Church books under lock and key, I would have squandered their wonderful positive energy, and in my eyes, that would have been as big a sin as the heirs sending them off to the landfill. Only by selling the books to other collectors and dealers could I let them manifest their potential for creating good within the world of comics.

Another question I am frequently asked, is whether I have had any further contact with the Church heirs. My last visit to Edgar Church's house was in late April of 1977, three months after the comics deal was concluded. Despite their earlier haste, the Church heirs had not succeeded in selling the house by that time, and kept calling me with more collectibles to buy. In total, I believe I made six, or seven, additional trips to the house. During the last trip, I purchased a few dozen posters they had found in the attic. To help (in a small way) compensate them for the incredible bargain I received in buying the comics, I paid them about double for the posters what I would have paid anyone else. This was the same ratio I had employed when calculating what to pay them for the items in Edgar's office, and for the portion of his clippings files that I prevented from being thrown away. Those extra payments didn't come close to compensating the heirs for the value of the old comics, but since their original plan was to just throw everything away, I know they got far more out of Edgar Church's paper accumulations than they ever expected. After that last trip to the house, I never heard from them again.

Aside from forever changing my role in the world of comics, I need to express to all of you just how much rescuing Edgar Church's comics altered my life in a positive way. While it should be obvious that finding items of great value enhances your material life, what happened to me was that the collection actually gave me a center to my existence that had never previously existed. You see, at the time that I found the collection, I was adrift. I was born in Germany, in 1955, to a beautiful 19-year-old German girl, who was successfully wooed by an American Army sergeant. Tragically, he failed to mention to her that he was already married. When he was transferred back to the US, three months after my birth, my mother was left both devastated and penniless. My grandparents successfully sued for custody of me, and I consequently spent the next four years of my life being raised by a huge extended family, in a small German village.

At least in part in order to regain custody of me, my mother married another Army sergeant, 24 years her senior, when I was four years old. We then left Germany for America the following year. Except for a few brief visits in my teens, I lost all contact with my home village. I also lost my ability to speak or comprehend German, as I quickly discovered that it was very much in my best interest to blend in as quickly as possible in American schools. As an only child, this made for a very lonely existence, especially considering that I had previously associated with a large number of aunts, uncles, and cousins in my very protective home village. That's part of the reason I spent so much time alone in America, reading comics.

To make a long story short, the one extravagance I purchased with the proceeds of the sale of the comics from the Edgar Church collection was a trip to re-establish my relationship with my German family. Nanette and I flew over to Europe, and took the train to my home town. We then walked to our family home, where I introduced myself to my shocked aunt, using a phrase book and Nanette's schoolgirl German. It took a while for relations to unchill (my mother hadn't left under the best of terms...), but since that first visit, my German family has made me welcome in their lives.

An even more important part of that first trip was that I was able to introduce Nanette to my great Aunt, my oldest surviving female relative. After three days of mutually nursing me through a debilitating attack of the flu, I asked my aunt if she thought that Nanette was the right girl for me to marry. My aunt gave her enthusiastic benediction, and with her blessing still in my ears, I took Nanette to a small park in my home town. There, on a park bench next to a small lake filled with swans, I asked Nanette to marry me. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was the greatest gift that Edgar Church gave to me for rescuing his comics. As in all marriages, Nanette and I have had our ups and downs, but after 24 years I can easily recognize today how much joy and happiness came from finding that collection. All you have to do is take one look at our four wonderful daughters, and you can see that my life is now blessed. Thanks to Edgar Church I went from being alone in a strange land, to having not only my German family back, but also having a wonderful family of my own. For that gift I will be eternally grateful to Edgar Church.

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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