I’ve never wanted to go to San Diego… until this year.

I’ve never really been into the San Diego Comic Convention. For years now it’s become an annual pilgrimage of geeks, nerds, and comic book fans alike. An orgy of licensed mayhem. It’s fun to sit back and read/view/watch all the mayhem, and occasionally I’ll get somewhat melancholy about something cool happening, or read about some awesome con-only variant or limited edition bit of schwag that makes me think for a half second, “that’d be cool to have”. Then just as quickly, I remember that I hate clutter, I hate comic “chotchkies“, and a quick trip to eBay confirms my belief that there’s a sucker born not quite every minute, but pretty close.

However, if there’s one person who every year makes me second guess my conviction, it’s Chuck Rozanski. If you don’t know who Chuck is, you don’t collect comics. Chuck is the owner/founder of Mile High Comics, and the man responsible for perhaps the greatest “find” in comic history, appropriately named, “The Mile High Collection”. If you’ve never heard the story of its discovery, then I urge you to read Chuck’s first-hand account here. It’s broken into multiple parts, so make sure you set aside some time and read all of them. It’s amazing. A collection so profoundly “perfect” that it single-handedly adjusted the pricing scale for what’s considered “near-mint”. It actually started the practice of labeling comic pedigrees, and is still the benchmark that all other pedigrees are measured against.

Personally, I’ve never seen a “Mile High Copy” of a book. I’ve seen them on eBay, and I’ve seen them get snatched up at auction for many multiples of guide value (In other words, if the near mint price of a book is, say, $20,000, a “Mile High” near mint copy of that same book would go for upwards of ten times that price).

The thing about the Mile High Collection though, is the books we haven’t seen. The ones Chuck kept. The ones he’s never shown in public.

Until now.

Recently, in Chuck’s newsletter (one of the most eloquent, prolific, consistently entertaining and simultaneously riveting pieces of writing on the subject of comics & the comics business in existence, I believe) he revealed that this year he’s going to take about 40 of his personal “Mile High” comics to display and sell at this year’s San Diego Comic Convention. The collection includes books such as a 1940″Red Raven #1” which is widely considered to be the rarest known Timely-Marvel book ever published, a complete, 22 issue run of Will Eisner’s “Spirit”, published between 1944 and 1948, and a copy of “Feature Book #26”, the highest graded Prince Valiant comic in the world.

Of all the things I am, comic book lover is perhaps the most descriptive. Sure, I collect them, but I collect books I love. I have a deep appreciation for the art form and its history. I wouldn’t normally consider a trip to San Diego, but this year I’ll be truly sad that I’m going to miss an opportunity to see these books. Knowing the pedigree of these books, and knowing the audience of likely buyers, I think there’s a good chance that not only will these books be snatched up and considered a bargain by whoever gets them, but they’ll likely never see the light of day in public again once they’re out of Chuck’s hands. That’s really a shame, but I understand.

So if you’re at San Diego this year, do yourself a favor and stop by Chuck’s booth. Take some pictures, enjoy the experience of the convention, but don’t forget what put that convention on the map in the first place… comic books.

2 Replies to “I’ve never wanted to go to San Diego… until this year.”

  1. After the reactions from comic dealers over the last few years, I’m happy (and surprised!) that Chuck is doing that. Lots of comic related dealers are pulling out of “Comic” Con because of the high fees and the over-proliferation of movie and tv promoters.

    If I could get a guarantee that it’d be as much fun as HeroCon back in the day, I’d be there in a second! Of course, like you, I’d love to just see the books due to the history attached to them.

    1. Yeah, especially last year’s emails. They made the whole affair sound like such a horrible experience. He wasn’t selling books, it was taken over by movies and television media events…

      He actually writes glowing reviews about Heroes Con though, have you seen? He calls it basically the last great full comic convention in America. With Wizard World taking over, and events like Dragon Con turning more and more into “multimedia” and multi-genre events, Shelton’s focus on keeping Heroes Con comic book-centric has really paid off and given us a great annual event on this coast, and even better, in this region. There are still great little one day shows, and for guys like you and me, who love comics and go to cons for the comics, those will probably be the best events for us to attend outside of Heroes Con.

      But yeah, I would love to attend this one just to see those books.

      Have you been to Steve Geppi’s Entertainment Museum over in Baltimore at Camden Yards? If we make it up to DC this year for our family vacation, I’m planning a day trip over there just to see that place. It looks awesome.

Leave a Reply