Part six in the story of the original discovery of the Mile High/Edgar
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
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
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
your letters to:
Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221