The foundation of ComicBook.Com is comics. While we love to cover all aspects of pop and geek culture, our roots lie in the comics community and the plethora of characters and stories that have sprung from it. If you speak with anyone in the comics community about what has made the medium successful in North America, you’ll quickly discover one answer that stands far above the rest: local comics stores. They are the bedrock of comics in the United States and Canada, supporting fans, communities, and conventions with open doors and a dedicated staff.
This year on ComicBook.Com we are highlighting this important aspect of comics and culture by taking a look at one local comic store each week. These are stores that embody what it means to support culture and community. We hope you can visit some of them throughout 2017.
If you’ve collected comics for more than a year, you’ve almost certainly heard the name Mile High Comics. Their ads have run within the pages of both Marvel and DC comics, calling for fans to check out their massive catalog online and sprawling floor space for anyone passing through Colorado. It’s exceptional that any comic book store grows large enough to not only exist for 30 years and spread to three locations, but to become part of the very comics they sell. That begs the question: What has made Mile High Comics a success?
The story begins in 1969, according to owner and founder Chuck Rozanski. That’s the year he began collecting comics in his parent’s basement at only 13. Just one year later, he was taking those comics to a flea market to barter and sell. By year four, he was attending his first national convention with a much larger stock. And by year six, at only 19, Rozanski opened the very first Mile High Comics Store. We have featured a variety of historic comics shops in this column, but none compare to the story and age behind the famous Mile High.
However, the phrase “Mile High” would not gain its current connotation within comic book shops until two years later. It was at this point, after Rozanski had opened several other storefronts, that he first encountered one of the greatest collections in comics history. The “Mile High Collection” was a treasure trove of Golden Age issues compiling almost every single superhero comic published between 1938 and 1950. According to Rozanski it remains the “largest and highest quality collection of old comics ever discovered.” In spite of his young age and limited resources, Rozanski pursued the collection, and through a mix of good fortune and skill was able to purchase it.
Before buying the famous “Mile High Collection”, Rozanski made an oath to himself that if he managed to get it, then he would dedicate the rest of his life to promoting comics. It’s the sort of promise you imagine making when you buy a lottery ticket or get called into your boss’s office unexpectedly, but Rozanski has proven to be a man of his word. Ever since obtaining the collection, he has continued to dedicate himself and his stores to spreading the good word of comics.
If the first decade of Mile High Comics’ history seems almost perfect, that doesn’t change. As the chain of Colorado-based stores has progressed their success has been continual and influence outstanding within the comic book industry. Even during the tumultuous boom and bust cycle of the 1990s, Mile High weathered it like an aircraft carrier surrounded by skiffs and fishing boats.
The store currently has three locations scattered throughout the Denver area. Within those locations they’ve accumulated more than 20,000 newsletter subscription members, 500,000 back issue orders, and 5,000,000 back issues. Even against competition like Midtown Comics and Forbidden Planet, Mile High Comics still maintains the largest inventory of comics and collectibles of any store on Earth. Those numbers may seem large, and they absolutely are. They are a testament to the time, dedication, and extraordinary collection of comics made available by Mile High Comics.
It’s that diverse collection and enormous fan and financial backing that has allowed the store to become a notable influence both on the direct market and comics conventions. Mile High Comics is known throughout superhero comics for their advertisements, at the very least. Within the midwest they are a legend though, known for their massive convention displays and events in the Denver area.
Mile High Comics puts on a truly legendary Free Comic Book Day extravaganza, taking full advantage of their influence and size to help lure in old fans and new readers alike with plenty to do and a seemingly infinite array of comics to explore. Readers who have attended a convention with Mile High know they are the number one stop for back orders. Whether you’re looking for a highly graded issue of early Silver Age Marvel Comics or a specific, but not well known, issue of 1980s DC Comics like Suicide Squad or Spectre, odds are that Mile High will have it. Their shelves are beautifully maintained and meticulously organized. It’s risky to enter their area for fear that you might forget the next panel or signing you want to attend.
Superhero comics are about legends, but the culture surrounding their collection and reading has managed to build a pantheon all its own. Mile High Comics is undoubtedly part of that tapestry. Despite being wedged thousands of miles between the two coasts of the United States, it has grown rapidly and continued to exert a widespread influence on comics collectors across North America. In the digital age it has subscribers far beyond the Great Plains and provides them all with the comics they love.
In an often tumultuous market, Mile High Comics is a reminder of the promise of success that can be found within any passion -- given a little bit of luck.
Name: Mile High Comics
Address: 4600 Jason Street
Denver, CO 80211
Website: Mile High Comics
Facebook: Mile High Comics
Twitter: Mile High Comics
Glendale Address: 760 S. Colorado Blvd. #J
Denver, CO 802460comments
Lakewood Address: 98 Wadsworth Blvd. #198
Lakewood, CO 80226