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Author Topic: Historical Photos - Comic Retailers: Chuck Rozanski / Edgar Church Collection  (Read 3159 times)

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Offline Yoc

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Hi Gang,
Here's another set of Comic Retailers. 
Again, this is not an endorsement of Chuck or any of the other retailers mentioned here.  It's strictly talking about the importance and history of Chuck and the Edgar Church/Mile High Collection.  PLEASE, let's not let this become anything more than a look back.  This is NOT the place to go into positive or negative experiences with any of the the retailers that a mentioned.
This one will be focused mostly on the Edgar Church/Mile High Collection first discovered in 1977 by Chuck Rozanski.  This pedigree is considered by most in our hobby as the single greatest cache of as close to originally printed comics ever.  Of the approx. 18,000 issues many are the best preserved example of each issue ever found.  Church was buying magazines and comics between the 1920s and 1958 and bought pretty much every comic published from between 1938 and 1955.  The total value of it today would be in the millions.

It's a very interesting story that touches on several noted sellers and collectors which I'll try and include here as well.  I'm also going to show what we know about the Edgar Church, the original owner of this amazing collection!

You can read more about this and many other pedigrees at this great site:

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#1 - Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics, Denver 1969
Chuck Rozanski is a legend in comics.  He started a business in his parent's basement selling comics by mail-order with ads in the Rocket's Blast Comic-Collector adzine when he was just thirteen years old in 1969.  He opened the first Mile High Comics retail store in October, 1974, after spending the previous four years as a convention dealer. He would have three stores by the time he bought the Church collection.

In 2002 Rozanski began writing the column "Tales from the Database" for the Comics Buyer's Guide.  Many of these are now online and I will be sharing links to several of them here.

You can read all about Chucks first days in comics in his own words on it here:

He would be lucky enough to buy the legendary Edgar Church/Mile High Collection in Jan. 1977 when he just 21.  You can read his memories of this momentous event here, it's a fascinating read I highly recommend:
and here:

Chuck would usually open up the Mile High vault once a year (advice of his tax guy) and sell around 20K worth of books at a time calling his big buyers each year.

He would later buy out the inventory of Canadian seller Robert Crestohl at some point around 1999-2000.

Hear an interview with him here:

YouTube has a series of videos that Chuck has made talking about his company and the philosophy behind it.

#2 - Rozanski in 1979

#3 - Edgar Church house
Here's the Edgar Church house where Chuck Rozanski would enter to buy the amazing collection.
Shared on CGC boards by N e r V

#4 - Edgar Church basement stairs
And the stairwell to the basement which housed several thousand Church comics.  The basement was just the right atmosphere of dry, dark and cool to almost perfectly preserve the thousands of comics Church owned.  They were located in what might have been a large pantry in the center of the basement. The pantry was approximately 6 ft. by 8 ft. with painted shelves all around the walls. All the shelves were stacked solidly, and there were dozens of neat stacks of comics on the floor.  It's a shame a photo doesn't exist of the collection before it was moved.  In fact it sounds like Chuck never wrote down an index of the complete collection before he had to start selling it off.
Shared on CGC boards by N e r V

#5 - Edgar Church at board
And the man himself - Edgar Church!
Shared on CGC boards by woowoo

You can read what it was like for Chuck walking into Church's office here:

#5A - Chuck Rozanski with Steve Geppi
Here's Charles in 2021 with Diamond Comics Distributors CEO, Steve Geppi.

And here's a gallery of Church's artwork:
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#6 - Edgar Church self-portrait (1910)
You can see these and many more Church samples (as well as Mile High comic covers) on HA at this link:

#7 - Edgar Church business card

#8 - Edgar Church promo art

#9 - Edgar Church promo art (1920)

#10 - Edgar Church comics samples (1940s)
It's said Church put this together in hopes of working for the comic field but never did.  It's speculated his distance from NYC was a big problem.  I think it's clear he was more than talented enough to work it comics.  He worked from 1925-1953 for Bell's Mountain region on their version of the 'Yellow Pages.'

And these were the first buyers of the Mile High Collection:
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#11 - Burrel Rowe, co-owner of the Camelot Bookstore, Houston, TX.
Burrel Rowe, III
(Sep 22, 1936 - May 29, 2018)

Rowe was a prominent Houston attorney, and a senior partner in a law firm 'Rowe and Hay' founded in 1979. In 1986, he sold his interest in the firm to his partner Ron Young.  In 1990, he began a solo practice as an attorney in family and probate law in Livingston. There he worked until his retirement from law in 2017.

He was a heavy buyer of GA books.  He was the first to buy books from the Mile High collection offered for sale at a February 1977 Houston comic convention.  He bought about 1000 books that con at 1976 guide value.

A week later Rowe would visit Chuck again along with Bruce Hamilton (see below) to buy more from the collection.  Rowe tells us "The comics looked fake to me, they were so beautiful," Rowe told me in 1996.  Even as he spent more than $10,000 on the EC, Fiction House and  oversized late 1930's comics, such as early Jumbo and Master comics.  Rowe offered Rozanski $250,000 for the rest of Edgar Church's collection which Chuck turned down.

"That was quite a lot more then than it is now," Rowe said.  "He wouldn't take it.  I thought that was foolish on his part.  He was a much smarter businessman than me."

Rowe would continue to buy more Mile High books over the years.  Eventually many of his Mile High books would be sold to John McLaughlin, a dealer/collector with a impressive collection of comic books, original art, and pulps. Unfortunately  I could find no pictures of McLaughlin, who allowed Gerber to photograph many covers from his collection for Gerber's Photo-Journal Guide To Comic Books published in 1989.  You can read about it on Chuck Rozanski's blog here:
and here

He was also a co-owner of Camelot Book Store in Texas with Russ Cochran and Bruce Hamilton (see below) which was open from October '77 and sold to Willie Patterson (see below) in 1982.

His obit:

#12 - Willie Patterson, co-owner of the Camelot Bookstore at HoustonCon1978 or 79
Photo -

Willie Patterson
(? - Oct. 7, 2010)
Co-owner of Camelot Bookstore Inc when it  incorporated in 1982 but appearing in conventions since the 70s.  Behind him is Harold Starbuck.  Willie was managing Camelot and Harold was the mail order guy at that time.

#13 - Bruce Hamilton (left) with Duck legend Carl Barks
Writer/dealer/publisher Bruce Hamilton (Oct 11, 1932 - Jun 18, 2005) with legendary Donald Duck artist Carl Barks (1901-2000) at the 1982 San Diego Comic Con.

Bruce would end up buying primarily DC's from the Mile High collection.  He would then contact Gary Carter (see below) and sell him some of his MH books.  Carter then reached out to Chuck directly.

Bruce was a writer for comics in the 50s at Farrell, Archie, Stanmor, Charlton and Toby.

He was also a co-owner in co-owner of Camelot Book Store selling collectibles such as original art, movie posters, and cartoon cels. He was one of the first purchasers of books from the Mile High collection in 1977.  He was also involved in fandom interviewing Jack Kirby for RBCC, and producing the Phoenixcon in 1970.

For a time in the early 70's Bob was a DJ for radio station KBUZ in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Not long after Bob Overstreet published his first price guide in 1970 Bruce would reach out and help him with future editions of the book.  And together with partner and musicologist Jerry Osborne, Hamilton produced over a dozen record album price guides between 1976 and 1984.

Bruce would start out publishing in 1981 with Russ Cochran as Another Rainbow Publishing produced The Fine art of Walt Disney's Donald Duck, a collection of all of the Carl Barks Disney-based oil paintings to that date. Not long after, the company began producing fine art lithographs of many of these paintings, in limited editions, all signed by Barks.

In 1983 they started publishing the 10-set, 30-volume Carl Barks Library as oversized hardbound volumes in pristine black-and-white line art..  The project was finally completed in mid-1990.

After Western Publishing dropped the license to produce the Disney comics in the mid-1980s, he was granted the license and the Gladstone Publishing company was created.  While Hamilton Comics was established in 1991 for projects in various arenas.

In the 90s he actively encouraged the creation of the CGC grading company.


#14 - James Payne, owner of A-1 Comics
James Garth 'Jim' Payne
(Aug. 11, 1925 - November 12, 2017)
Jim was a WWII veteran who earned a purple heart fighting in Okinawa with ten children!  While still working full time at a printing firm he opened A-1 Comics in Denver, Col. in either 1965 or 67 stocked with old comics, pulps, movie posters, and comics memorabilia. It was located in about 1,000 square feet in the basement of the old Ogden Street Bookstore.

Jim wanted to sell his store and comics inventory for 10% of the Edgar Church collection. Chuck had known Jim since his early teens and felt he owed the older retailer a good deal.

Memorial video:

#15 - James Payne, outside of A-1 Comics
Due to his full time printing job at the end Jim could only open the store Saturdays from 12-5, and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9.  Eventually he would have to sell it to Chuck.

Chuck Rozanski recalls Jim and the deal here:

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Offline Yoc

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It wasn't long after that Chuck published his price list of MH books in an early June 1977 issue of 'The Buyer's Guide' asking for 1.5X and 2X Mint Overstreet prices.  This caused a shock wave in the hobby and a back lash against Chuck.  You can see a scan of the first MH price catalog at this link:

You can read about the ad and the backlash he go here:

Here are some other known big buyers of Mile High books:
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#16 - Gary Carter, SDCC 2016
Gary M. Carter founded the AACC, (American Association Of Comic Book Collectors), was the organization's first president, and also established (and served on many) Sotheby's and Christie's grading committees.

He and his brother Kent Lane, (named after Superman characters Clark Kent and Lois Lane) sold comics via mail order by the 1970s into the 1990s. 

He was one of the first purchasers from the Mile High collection buying many DC's, including most of the pre-hero DCs.  Gary even mortgaged his house and borrowed all they could to get more comics from Chuck.  It's said they spent $44,000.  Gary’s father Nick even managed to come up with an additional $5,000 to buy more from Chuck. 

While working as a U.S. government engineer from San Diego he was busy in the comics world.  In the early Apr. 1991, Gary began editing and publishing Comic Book Marketplace magazine, and then later became Editor in Chief of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and the Overstreet Comic Book Quarterly. After Overstreet became part of Gemstone, Gary returned to CBM and served as Editor through 2000. Today, Gary is the Dean of the Chabot College School of the Arts in the San Francisco Bay area.

You can read a fun 1991 LA Times profile on Gary at this link:

And here's an article by Lewis Forro about visiting Gary at his home in 1991:

You can hear an interview with him here:

#17 - Steve Geppi (at centre) at the 1991 SDCC
After buying Richard Alf's mail order business in 1978, Chuck needing to raise $21,000 to buy a double page spread ad in all new Marvel Comics for nine weeks running in 1980.  Rozanski sold off several key Mile High books including Batman #1, Whiz #2 and All-Star #1 to Steve Geppi who was acting as an agent for John Wesley Snyder.  Later Geppi would start to collect MH books for himself an managed to buy a sizeable number of them in the 90s.

Steve Geppi (b. January 24, 1950) is a comic book distributor, publisher and former store owner. He is the owner and founder of Diamond Comic Distributors and Gemstone Publishing, as well as Diamond International Galleries and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM, now closed) in Baltimore.

Steve started out adult life as a US Postal worker in Baltimore.  After working comic book conventions on the weekends for a while he opened his first Geppi’s Comic World store in 1974 and had four stores by 1981.  The next year he founded Diamond Comic Distributors which eventually after buying out his competition became the biggest distributor of comics in America by 1996. 

He became part owner of the Baltimore Orioles in 1993, and in 1994 (a busy year for him) purchased 'Baltimore' magazine as well  as creating Gemstone Publishing Inc. to publish his purchase of the Overstreet Price guide.  His Diamond International Galleries opened in 1994 which gave way in 2006 to his Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. 

In May 2018 he donated more than 3,000 items from his personal comic and pop culture collection to The Library of Congress.  He closed his GEM business that June.

Hear an interview with him here:

#18 - John Verzyl, owner of Comic Heaven
John Verzyl
(02.14.1961 - 03.10.2018) - Photo by Lewis Forro
Owner of Comic Heaven and long time seller at NYC and SDCC.  John also consultant for the Overstreet Price Guide of over 30 years.  A heavy buyer of books from the Mile High Collection.

John Verzyl started collecting comic books in 1965 and within ten years he had amassed thousands of Golden and Silver Age comic books. In 1979 he opened his Comic Heaven comics store.

John seems to be universally remembered as a very genial person happy to talk comics whenever someone approached him collecting crowds of listeners around his convention table listening to his stories.

You can read a remembrance by Bob Reyer on John with some nice photos here:

And another patron remembers his store here:

Several big names in comics remember John in this post:

#19 - Ron Pussell, owner of Redbeard’s Book Den - 1986 newspaper
Ron Pussell was working as an assistant controller at a large women's shoe importer but hated the job. It then he discovered comic collecting again. He started going to conventions and buying Timelys then Ducks and ECs.  At a con he saw his first Mile High books for sale but felt Chuck was asking too much at 1.5 x OSPG.  He eventually started buying MH books and not long after quit the accounting profession and became a small dealer.
Pussell bought a majority of the esoteric Mile High titles and sold them slowly through the 1980’s into the mid 1990’s.  He would buy a new batch from Chuck each year at the SDCC. 
Ron still sells books online on eBay.

Here is a newspaper piece on Ron from a 1986 Anaheim Register.

You can read this blog entry by Lewis Forro about visiting Redbeard's Newport Beach, Cal. store in 1981:

#20 - Jay Maybruck, owner of Sparkle City
Sparkle City was established in 1976.  They employed and later partnered for a time with Paul Howley (seen in the picture here) before he left to start his own store.  Jay acquired new product renting space in malls as he traveled America offering to buy any collectibles people might want to sell.  You can read about the experience here:

Sparkle City bought a large batch of Church books early on from Ron Pussell and in 1985 they placed an ad in the March 29th Comic Buyer’s Guide (#593). This ad contained prime DC and Timely MH books.  Some of the highlights include full Timely runs of Human Torch #2-34, All Winners #2-19 & 21, USA #2-17, Mystic Comics #2-10, Daring Mystery Comics #2-12 and most impressive Superman #11-68.

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#21 - John McLaughlin, owner of The Book Sail
John K McLaughlin (Mar. 13, 1942 - Jun. 30, 2005) - I could find no picture of John, sorry.
Some estimate that John's collection held about 1700 Church books!  Most bought from Ron Pussell or directly from Chuck.
McLaughlin was a renowned book and pop culture buyer and seller.  He owned and ran The Book Sail until it closed in 2002.  Most online call him a 'character' as Robert Weinberg says "McLaughlin was an odd character who had lots of money that he enjoyed spending on rare collectibles.  The heir to a steel fortune, he lived in a stunning home in California.  He owned a small book store he called The Book Sail and offered some of his most unusual items for sale at the store.  His prices were outrageous because John really didn’t care if he sold anything or not."

He might be the same McLaughlin who produced nice artwork for some fanzines in the 60s such as Warp Factor and Stardate.  You can see a samples of his artwork here:

You can read this odd story about his efforts to sell the original 1897 manuscript of Bram Stoker's Dracula on a wiki entry, half way down the page:
The manuscript was later sold by his heirs and it is now in a museum.

He passed away sometime in 2005 and his books were sold off.  You can read all about his collection on this HA page when they along with Diamond International Galleries dispersed his collection.

#22 - Ernie Gerber on right
Matt Nelson (left) with Ernie Gerber at the SDCC in 1995.

Gerber is an indispensable figure in comic collecting history.
He invented the widely used Mylar Snug for preserving comic books that everybody in the hobby uses.  He ran his own auctions selling many Mile High Collection books in the 80s.
Gerber's main claim to fame though is the two volume reference book The Photo-Journal Guide To Comic Books published in 1989. He spent five years traveling the country photographing comic book collections and used thousands of dollars of his own money to make that book a reality including buying many of issues from the Mile High Collection. He would sell them in a 1990 auction selling 1253 MH books!  He sold his last 1000 to Steve Geppi three years later.  Gerber, Pussell, and Verzyl created Certificate of Authenticity for the MH books in their collections before selling them.

Comic fandom owes him a huge debt for his work done before the internet would make it so easy to collect covers of comics.

A bio of Gerber can be read here:

#23 - Dr Pat Kochanek
Dr Kochanek wrote his own detailed history of the pedigree and printed in Comic Book Marketplace #2-5 which you can read here:

#24 - Bob Nastasi, owner of Amazing Comics and Collectibles
Bob Nastasi, 30+ year retailer and owner of Amazing Comics and Collectibles.  Bob owned many Mile Highs in the 1980’s.

#25 - Jon Berk
Jon Berk is known and respected throughout the comic community as not only one of the most knowledgeable collectors and historians around, but as a true class act in the hobby. Jon spent nearly a lifetime amassing a most impressive collection of vintage comics and art.  Jon owns many of the Fox Mile Highs and other key runs.  Generous with his collection he helped Gerber with his volumes and has contributed works for exhibit and published collections.

Hear an interview with him here:


Buyers of MH books I could NOT find any pictures of include:
Robert Pennak aka 'Perfect Pennak, who buys only the highest graded books.

Alex Acevedo founder of Alexander Gallery in 1971.  Alex was trading and selling comics and coins by the age of 12.  He opened his first Madison Avenue Gallery in 1976.  Besides art he was heavily involved in comics, early toys and American Indian artifacts as well.  The gallery closed in Jan. 2018 but still sells artwork online.

Dr. David J. Anderson aka 'The Dentist' in in Alexandria, VA. who is known for hunting down only the highest grade books and owns many MH issues including for a time the Action Comics #1 bought in 1985.  It's said he has owned MH runs of Action Comics #1-24, Batman #1-17, Detective Comics #28-40, Sensation Comics #1-30 at one time.

Joe Smejkal who owns many prime DC superhero runs.

Bruce Schwartz, owner of Astounding Comics who owns many DC issues as well.  He founded Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.

and West Stephan who has about 200 at the time he wrote a nice overview of the Church book collection which helped immensely with this entry and shared it on the CGC boards here:

That's it for this batch, hope you liked them,

Offline CBpop

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Excellent work Yoc.  Great overview and links.  Thanks for the research and history of early comic dealers, many of which I bought from in the day  :D

Offline Yoc

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Thanks for the kind words Ed.  It's amazing what you can find on the net when you do deep dives into it.  I've only met a couple of the more famous current dealers.  All of this is appreciating history for me.

I've got many more dealers to share down the road a little bit.


Offline bminor

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Words fail

me. When

I read

about these

epic finds.

« Last Edit: February 23, 2022, 11:00:33 AM by Yoc »

Offline SuperScrounge

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Yeah, be nice to make a find like one of those.  :D