My Trip to Mile High Comics!

Mile High Comics
The world famous Mile High Comics Warehouse Store. Yes, it’s that big. Click the image to open a full-sized version and get up close and personal.

I originally wrote this back on Jun 29, 2015 and saved it in my drafts. I just found it and figured I’d go ahead and publish it. So without further ado… 

When I was much younger and used to ride my bike a couple miles away to the local Drug Fair or Safeway to buy my comics, there was no such thing as a “comic book store”. Comic Book Collecting wasn’t really a hobby, it was just something you did. Comic book conventions were mythical events taking place in exotic locations like New York and San Diego, (and from the photos, mainly in basements). So there were a handful of names you were familiar with if you were one of those people who was seeking out comics in the 70s. Chuck Rozanski/Mile High Comics was one of those names. I grew up sending out self-addressed stamped envelopes to him and others, and including my quarter, and getting the latest “list” of comics for sale along with prices. Prior to the invention of the Comic Book Price Guide, one of the only ways to gauge the “value” of a book was to see what mail order comic book companies like Chucks were charging for books. This was where I first learned that Amazing Fantasy 15, Fantastic Four 48, Showcase 4, and a host of other books were considered “key” books and commanded higher prices than other books around the same time.

This was how I learned about comic book collecting.

By the time the late 70s and early 80s rolled around, word of the Edgar Church Mile High Collection began circulating. I’d hear people talking about the collection Chuck had purchased and the unheard of quality of the books. Mile High Comics and Chuck were legendary among the small circle of people I knew who were into what was becoming a real hobby.

I’ve traveled a lot in my life, but one of the few places that have eluded me have been Denver and for some reason or another I’ve never had a chance to travel there. As luck would have it, I recently spoke at a conference in Denver, had a couple hours free, and the hotel I was staying at had free bicycles that they’d let you check out to ride around town. You couldn’t ask for a better combination of enablers. I was finally going to get a chance to visit the World Famous Mile High Comics Jason Street Warehouse.

The ride from the hotel was about 20 minutes or so to get to the other side of the city and over to the area where the warehouse was. It was a warehouse district (duh!) with plenty of other facilities nearby… with a very distinct smell… I remembered that Colorado had recently legalized weed. You never forget that smell.

You can’t prepare yourself for what you see when you walk into the warehouse. You think you can, you have this image in your head about what you think it’s going to look like, but it wildly exceeds whatever you’re thinking. Right off the bat there’s a display case filled to the brim with gold and silver age keys. Amazing Fantasy 15, Showcase 4, etc… I was mesmerized.

The size and expanse of the place is mind-boggling. You can just walk and walk and walk and never see the same thing twice. Walls of variants, toys, collectibles, and row after row of comics. I’ve been to comic book conventions that have been held in smaller spaces with significantly fewer comics available. There’s a section of trade paperbacks that is larger than even the largest comic book shops I’ve seen. It’s massive.

Chuck wasn’t there the day I arrived, but he had been in and out and it appeared that I had just missed him, so I spent some time talking with the amazing staff. They were kind, patient (I was such a tourist), and even invited me “upstairs” to a loft area overlooking the whole warehouse where I was able to take the panoramic photo above.

I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to finally get a chance to visit the mecca of comic book collecting and I’m here to tell you, it did NOT disappoint. If you love comic books, and you’re ever within driving distance of Denver, you owe it to yourself to go. It’s something you’ll never forget.

Heroes Con Charlotte – Part 1 – Introduction

Heroes Convention Charlotte
Best comic book convention ever!

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and actively worked on writing. I used to really enjoy the rigor of keeping on a pretty consistent schedule of blogging and writing. It felt cathartic and it was just something that I really enjoyed. So I took the opportunity of the last couple of weeks to “get back on the horse” so to speak and start to try and write with a little more consistency and regularity.

A couple of weekends ago (Father’s Day to be more accurate) I got the chance to finally spend the weekend at Heroes Con in Charlotte. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Heroes Con is the annual comic book convention put on by Shelton Drum and the team at “Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find”, a really terrific comic book shop that’s been around since I was a kid, up in Charlotte. Shelton’s been putting this convention on for the last 33 years or so, and it’s grown into what I believe is one of the best (if not THE best) comic book convention in America. It’s certainly the ONLY comic book convention that’s singularly focused on comic books and a quick anecdotal survey of the creators who attend reinforces that it’s the most well-thought of, most enjoyed convention of the convention season. I’m sure when a lot of people think of “comic book convention” they think of Comic-Con in San Diego, but I’m here to tell you, there are few conventions annually that stack up against Heroes Con. It’s three days of pure comics, comic art, writing, sessions, cosplay and fun.

Growing up and during college I was a regular Heroes Con attendee, but recent years have been difficult to find a way to go and for probably the last several years I’ve marked it on my calendar as a, “this-year-I-promise-I’m-gonna-go” event, but sure enough, something always came up and I was always vowing to attend, “next year for sure”. Well last year I put my foot down and told myself that come hell or high water I was attending this year and began making plans back in late summer. My somewhat underwhelming experience at Dragon Con and Wizard World (two okay, but lackluster conventions if you’re a comic book fan) last year only steeled my resolve to make sure not another year passed without my ass being squarely in the thick of Heroes Con in 2015. To that end, I began setting aside a nest egg starting back in September and contributing weekly to my “Heroes Con Fund” to ensure that a lack of convention funds was not going to be an issue. I booked my hotel room last fall, bought my wife and I three day passes (kids under 10 are free!) as soon as they were available to buy, and put in for the only personal time off I had on the books for this year. I was set.

As the convention drew closer, I became almost apoplectic with excitement as the guest list was updated. At first the updates were coming in regularly every 30 days or so, but as it got closer and closer to the date, the updates increased and the names being added were bigger and bigger. Bernie Wrightson, Arthur Adams, Klaus Janson, Ed Piskor, Evan Dorkin, Kris Anka, Wilfredo Torres, Evan “Doc” Shaner… it just became a who’s who of artists, writers, colorist. I began to worry if I was going to literally have enough time over the course of three days to get an audience with the growing list of creators. I began to prioritize, plot, email (never underestimate the value of emailing a creator or artist to get on their radar and try to nail down arrangements before the convention) and scheme. I even bought a second sketchbook in a stroke of genius that I can’t take credit for. One evening I was lamenting to my wife that I didn’t think I’d be able to coordinate all the convention sketches I wanted and she casually mentioned, “why don’t you buy a second sketchbook and that way you can halve your effort, doubling your chances?” I sat there for a moment, dumbstruck at the brilliance of her idea and immediately jumped on Amazon to order a second book identical to the one I carry around.

Then, as if it wasn’t possible for me to anticipate something any more, two weeks before the convention the update to end all updates went out. Appearing Saturday only was the founding father of Marvel Comics himself, Stan “The Man” Lee. Special packages were made available at various price points with the highest end, a “VIP Meet ‘n Greet” with Stan being limited to an audience of 25. I was blown away. Sure, it was steep, way pricey… but I had been saving up since last year. I had the cheddar. I gave it a thought, slept on it, asked a couple of friends what they thought (“what, are you crazy? Of course you should do it, there’s no question!) and decided to plunk down the cash and go for the full Stan Lee Experience.

Stan Lee Max Pass 2015
Excelsior! Meeting Stan “The Man” Lee!

So there I was. I had a VIP Meet ‘n Greet on Friday evening and Saturday with Stan Lee, I had more than enough money squirreled away to guarantee a brilliant time, and had commitments for sketches from several of the most sought-after guests on my “must meet” list and a family that was looking forward to driving up to Charlotte and spending Father’s Day weekend in Marriott.

I couldn’t wait. It was going to be epic.

NEXT: Part 2 – Friday, the first day of the convention and I meet Stan Lee!