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.

A trip to Seattle, a couple of days with the Marine Corps & Microsoft, and a day on Whidbey Island.

I’m on the plane heading back from Seattle after finally scoring an upgrade on a cross-country flight, so I’m relaxed, in a good mood, and reflecting on a pretty awesome past couple of days. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to attend a couple of days with our Marine Corps client, our media partners, and several different disciplines within Microsoft. We spent yesterday on the Microsoft Campus in Bellevue with several members of the advertising team, the Xbox team, and a few different groups within the Kinect team. Today we were lucky to get some time before we took off for the airport with the Skype team and had a really great discussion around the possibilities of their platform. Lots of great conversation, great ideas, and great technology. It’s tremendously rewarding to have chances like this to sit around a table with incredibly smart, enthusiastic, passionate people who love what they do and spend an afternoon brainstorming ways to make something better. To make an experience better. To make a process better. To work on something that’s already good, and make it great.

I know the specs are out there, and anyone can see on paper how much of an improvement the v2 Kinect (The Kinect on the Xbox One) is over the v1 (360), but witnessing a presentation and seeing some pretty compelling demonstrations of it up close, is another thing entirely. The increase in resolution and camera/microphone capability, plus the leaps in software development have enabled the former “Natal Project” to begin to realize its potential as a game changing User Interface. Microsoft is one of the leaders in Human-Computer Interaction research – Natural User Interface (NUI) is something they’ve spent a lot of time looking into – and the things they were able to demonstrate beyond gaming are amazing to see. I was completely blown away by some of the ways the technology is being used.

In addition to the time spent with Microsoft, we had a really great time with the Marines. It was a real pleasure to have a chance to spend some time with Maj General Brilakis & Lt Col Hernandez and their respective teams, and hear firsthand how the work you’re doing is impacting the challenges that go hand in hand with recruiting the best & brightest and turning them into Marines. We had an absolutely amazing dinner on Lake Union and were able to continue our conversation about technology, recruiting, advertising. We were even able to swap some stories and I learned what everyone’s first car was! I hadn’t thought about that Mustang in years!

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the trip for me, was a chance to spend a day driving up to Oak Harbor and Deception Pass. I haven’t been back there in years, and it turned out that Sunday was the ceremonial, “first beautiful day of the year” with a 70 degree day and not a cloud in sight. My friend/co-worker Dave and I made it to Mukilteo in time to catch the 9:30 ferry over to the island and got to Langley just in time to grab an incredible breakfast at The Braeburn Restaurant before making our way up the Island. After spending some time wandering around the park at Deception Pass we headed back south to Oak Harbor. I made Dave drive the long way around so I could snake back through “downtown” and was pleased to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Downtown Oak Harbor still looked exactly the way I remembered it. We stopped at Seabolt’s Smokehouse, grabbed some lunch (again, with the crab) and I made sure not to leave without getting a gift box of Seabolt’s Smoked Salmon to take back to the ATL. A gift I’ll be sure and pass along to myself for a job (some job… any job) well done!

All in all, a really great trip. Both professionally, and personally, this was one that I really enjoyed and can look back on and really soak in what I was able to see, and discuss, and think about. These things cram a lot into a few days, but I have no doubt that I was sufficiently inspired to go out and make cool shit. Lots of cool, cool shit.

Adweek 2013

I recently attended Adweek 2013 in NYC. I was up to support our CCO, Perry Fair, who was speaking on a panel about our SXSW effort earlier this year, WALTER. I saw tons of great panels, met a boatload of nice people, and had a great experience. I think it’s fair to say that “Data is the new Social” and by that I mean, every conversation was about data. Security, storage, analytics, mining, leveraging. You name it and there’s a “buzzverb” associated with it.

I’ve been talking for a while about what I think I like to call a “data education” among the more traditional (non-digital, or “digitally challenged”) folks, account management teams, creative teams, etc. I think there’s a real opportunity to begin to institute a broader awareness of what digital means with respect to data and why there’s never a wrong time to begin looking at strategies that take advantage and leverage data opportunities. I love the idea of “dog whistle” terms, and using them as springboards for conversation. I would even propose moving upstream and rather than focus on things like, “testing”, and “analytics”, I would latch on to phrases like, “what if?” or “how could we?” which lend themselves to talking about measurement, accountability, and proving hypotheses. Once you begin having those conversations, the world opens up!

So everyone at Adweek was jumping on that bandwagon and I think the realization was that data and advertising are all grown up. It’s no longer a conversation happening in the nerdier corners of the agency. The stuff we’re creating is helping shape our understanding of their audience’s consumption habit, channel preferences, and it helps you locate that elusive sweet spot where your context means everything.

Outside of AdvertisingWeek, the highlight for me was “Stand-Up Live” at the Gotham Comedy Club (love that name!) featuring Amy Schumer. I’m a HUGE fan of her show on Comedy Central and her recent appearances on the Comedy Central Friars Club Roasts. We were fortunate enough to get some tickets and were able to get into the show, which was a feat unto itself. The place is SMALL, I think there were barely 200 people in there, and I was about 20 feet away for one of the best stand-up shows I’ve ever seen.

I love these trips. A lot of times you genuinely learn things and anytime you can couple that with the reassurance that your head’s in the right place, and you’re having the right conversations about the right topics.