WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Comics
I never thought I would visit or get to meet him.
Yet, fate put me in a position – including a pandemic – to do just that; decades after the fact. I was a youngster who began collecting and reading comic books; this was the early 1970s. It became my hobby soon enough—with just about every waking hour reading, caring for and admiring the COMX, as I fondly called them.
I studied every aspect of the comic book: the story, the art, the letters page and yes, even the advertisements. I remember seeing the ad for ‘Mile High Comics’ and the name of the owner, Chuck Rozanski, but like all the others, I put it aside as I had plenty of local comic book sources.
Over the years, I would see the guy’s name and think, ‘Oh, yeah; he’s that guy with the comic book store in Colorado.’ And I would go on about my business. I never even entertained the idea that I would ever go there. I loved the few places I had discovered and that was that, as they say. There would be years – decades – go by without so much as a thought of MHC.
Then, in 2019, my siblings got the idea that we should do a ‘family vacation’ and began working out the details. I stayed out of it because I knew we would probably not go; too many conflicts in scheduling and such. They decided and made plans for summer 2020 in Colorado; of all places. It still didn’t dawn on me because it did conflict. We were not going; I wasn’t going anywhere near Colorado. Then, you guys have heard of that thing, ‘The Pandemic,’ right? Well, the trip was postponed a year and lo and behold—the schedule opened up for us where I could visit Mile High Comics and meet its owner.
Chuck Rozanski is in his late 60s with a ponytail and painted fingernails; yes, he’s an eccentric, but he has a passion for the comic book hobby and people in general. He has a great sense of humor; and puts people at ease immediately. He’s a humble guy, but has a great sense of humans, too. He advocates for the Homeless and works with the LGBTQ Community. He’s a great guy!
His 51 years in the comic book business began when he gave up a college scholarship to ‘sell comic books.’ It was his one and true passion in Life; and he has never wavered from it since 1970. He began his store in Boulder, CO and then, opened a second store in Denver in 2010—eventually closing the Boulder location. The Denver site is billed as ‘The Biggest Comic Book Store in the World.’ And it is…
The warehouse facility is HUGE – hundreds of thousands of square feet – and he has storage of just as much if not more. The store boasts almost 11 million comic books – the largest in the world! Wow! (He just bought a collection with every DC Comic (Superman/Batman) published since 1956! Double Wow!!)
At this point of his career, he travels around America buying collections personally from long time collectors. He definitely has a sense of history for the past half century. Chuck has a farm outside of Denver, which he splits time with the store. He is also putting together a large collection of Pueblo Pottery; and building a gallery for it. He notes that it is second only to the collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Triple Wow!
Chuck gave me the quick tour in his trademark jeans and t-shirt. He was all smiles as he approached customers and employees alike. They all knew him by name, too! It was a great sight to see; people who have something in common sharing it with one another. It is a great feeling; and to be in the middle of it was something special! AND I got to see an Avengers 1; a Spiderman 1; a Showcase 1; a Ghost Rider 1; and a Fantastic Four 48 (first Galactus!). There are Star Trek and Star Wars sections, too.
Besides all the comic book décor, the store has trade paperbacks, action figures, games and FUNKO figures. There are many, many valuable comics in the store, too, including the rarest one “Mad Comics” #9 signed by William Gaines, Wally Woods and Harvey Kurtzman. Woods was the artist and the other two were the founders, creators and writers of Mad Magazine (It became a ‘magazine’ when the Comics Code Authority debuted in 1954).
Chuck told me there are plans to expand – if you can believe that – as he has just as many collectible items in storage as he has on the floor now. Double Wow Again!! After a tough childhood per his admission, Chuck has a ‘true love of comic books and the people who love them.’ He wants to know them and their stories. I like that!
I know it’s just a store and he’s just a businessman, but there is something special going on in Denver and it is at Mile High Comics!
Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.