Mile High II Collection Part X

This week's column is chapter #10 in the story of the 1985 purchase of the Mile High II collection of 1,500,000 back issue comics.

After Mike Kott and I spent Sunday prowling the seller's main warehouse looking for comics and related items that had been left behind when my first four trucks left, I was more than ready to go home. Mike was booked on a flight back to Florida on Monday morning, and I was scheduled to return to Colorado in the afternoon. After dealing with the aggressively noxious and capricious behavior of the seller for nearly a week, and running into the pallet of incredibly filthy photographs stored up in the mezzanine of the main warehouse, I just wanted to get far, far away from that place. A problem I ran into, however, was that I had found two pallets of comics and DayGlo Marvel notecards in the main warehouse during Sunday's search. While I still had a truck scheduled to pick up on Monday, two pallets no where near justified a $2,200 tractor-trailer shipment back to Colorado. When I asked the seller if we could somehow ship the two pallets by LTL (Less Than Truckload), the seller asked me if I would like fill up my truck with some Warren magazines.

My initial reaction to his offer was "No Way!" As bizarre as it might seem today, when most high grade Warren magazines retail for more than $10 each, back issue Warren magazines were practically worthless in 1985. While I don't know the details particularly well, I do know that the market was glutted with Warrens in 1985. Some came from affidavit returns warehouses, and others originated directly from Warren, being dumped on the market in huge quantities when his Captain & Co. mail order division was liquidated as a result of Warren's bankruptcy in the early 1980's. Whatever the reason, most Warrens didn't sell very well at that time, and they were available all over the place. The seller insisted in pursuing the Warren deal, however, and told me he could get me 200,000 Warrens for only five cents each. I told him I would still pass, as I really didn't have the space to store them. He then asked me if I would take them for free! Even with limited storage space, this was an offer I had to at least consider.

After I dropped Mike off at the airport on Monday morning, I returned for one last time to the seller's main warehouse. The burned out truck body was still in the parking lot, and the two or three loyal staff members he had managed to retain after the rest went on strike were busy ripping pages out of hardback books, testing their PH rating to see if they could be sold to a company that was willing to recycle the books into toilet paper. As a devoted bibliophile, seeing all those wonderful books being prepared for destruction just made me want to cry. It was really a dismal and forlorn place, with almost no light or heat, and huge piles of twisted steel, broken pallets, and a mound of books where one of the Teamsters had "accidentally" pulled down an entire immense bay of 5-high pallet racking by catching the end support in his forklift forks. Knowing that the seller's father was about to be released from prison, and that the Factor who had provided financing for the inventory was soon to arrive to collect on his loans, made the atmosphere in that place astoundingly dismal.

I was so anxious to get out of that depressing place that I let the seller talk me into going on one last trip with him, to a local public storage warehouse. This was a very tidy place, where you rented space by the full pallet. The seller had contracted with this warehouse to store 22 pallets of his father's Warren magazines, with just under 10,000 copies to each 6' high pallet. When the book wholesaling deals he had relied upon were rescinded by the big national retailers, however, he was left with no money with which to pay his storage bill. He was now caught in a trap, as the warehouse owners were unwilling to let him take any of the books unless they received payment, yet they were keeping the meter running on his tab with them as long as the books were still in their building. The seller was so desperate to get out of this financial trap that he told me on the way over to the place that he would let me have all 200,000 of the magazines for free! His only request was that I agree to send him 2 copies of each issue, so he could give them to his kids. That was an offer I simply could not refuse.

Once we got to the public warehouse, the seller began negotiating the release of his books. In the meantime, I called for my last 53' truck. It arrived after about an hour, but the seller still hadn't managed to get a release on the 22 pallets. I seriously wondered how he was ever going to get those books released without any money, but I underestimated his ability to cajole and weasel. After what seemed like forever, he suddenly popped out of the managers office, and said "Get Loading!" I have no idea how he did it, but I kept my fingers crossed the entire time that that warehouse workers were sliding the pallets into my truck. Only when they finally closed the trailer doors, could I relax enough to breathe a sigh of relief.

Once the Warrens were in my possession, I asked my driver to roll his truck over to the seller's warehouse. We then loaded in the last two odd pallets, and sent him off to Colorado. It was only when he disappeared around the first bend that the immensity of what I had accomplished began to sink in. I had just purchased the largest back issue comics deal in history!

To be continued...

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221

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