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John P. has a PATREON. / King-Cat 82 is OUT.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Colfax Avenue, looking west from Corona.

Pulling into Denver after the last tour was odd for me, and a little difficult.  Because for the first time (aside from my initial visit in '92 to check it out) I was coming into Denver without the intention of staying there.

I spent a week or so, and took a few pictures, said hello/goodbye to a bunch of good friends.  I don't know why I love that stupid city, but I do.  Here's a brief personal history.

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In late 1991, my good friend Donal got job-transferred to Denver and began pestering me to move there: "It's dirt cheap! It's beautiful! The weather is perfect!" So I took a trip out in March of 1992, saw he was right, and went back to Illinois to give notice at my job. In June I drove out there in a U-Haul with my dad, and the next chapter of my life began.

I moved into Apartment 101 in the Don-Edward (above) at 9th and Emerson.  I lived with Donal and his new cat Maisie, and drew comics.  I began my little comix distribution company Spit and a Half, and started working hard at forging an independent life for myself as an artist.  My rent was $175 a month.

In 1994 Donal made the wise decision to buy a house (above, 2929 W 33rd Ave.) in the Highlands neighborhood in Northwest Denver.  I moved there with him and Steve, but only lasted a month.  My old apartment at the Don-Edward was still open, so I moved back in.  I stayed in the Don-Edward 'til I left Denver in 1998.

From '98- 2002 I lived back in Illinois, in Elgin (a whole 'nother blog post...).  But in '02, Misun and I returned to Denver, settling into this building at 1220 Marion Street, a few blocks from Cheesman Park-- my favorite park in Denver.  I worked at the health food store a few days a week, and otherwise drew comics and studied Nutrition at home.  But after a year, we up and moved again, to San Francisco.

After 3 years in San Francisco I couldn't wait to get back to Denver.  By now rents had skyrocketed and we couldn't find an affordable place in Capitol Hill.  So we moved into this duplex building in the West Highlands, on Vrain Street, just a few blocks from the border with Wheat Ridge.  I loved it out there, it was so suburban, peaceful, and quiet.  I'd go on nightly walks to look for foxes and raccoons and follow the old irrigation ditch as it wound through the neighborhood.

The Highlands sits up on a big hill, and at night you could see the lights of Denver and the suburbs spread out forever.  It was beautiful.  But it was weird.  It was a total yuppie neighborhood, and just far enough from downtown to be annoying.  After a year and a half we reurned to Central Denver, to the Speer neighborhood.

We lived at First and Grant, a few blocks from the Mayan.  It was so nice to feel part of the life of the city again, the sound of cars going by and people on the sidewalks.  I started to feel at home again.  I lived here for two and a half years, until Misun and I split up and we lost the lease.  Since then I've been adrift.

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The Capitol Hill Post Office where I held a PO Box off and on for 18 years.

The "Queen" Soopers at 9th and Corona, two blocks from the Don-Edward.  I practically lived here from '92-'98, shopping at 3 AM with the drag queens and other assorted rebels.  Look how spiffy their new remodel job is!

The seminal Wax Trax record store at 13th and Washington.  First place that ever sold King-Cat in Denver, and my home away from home.

Kilgore Books opened a few doors down in one of the old Wax Trax spaces (at its heyday, Wax Trax businesses took up almost the whole block--  there was a new vinyl/CD store, a used store, a non-rock store, and "Across The Trax" which sold posters, T-shirts, patches and other ephemera.)  Kilgore quickly became a champion of the Denver independent comics scene, and still is.  Awesome guys.

Washington Park

After my surgery in 1997, I came to Wash Park every morning and did a lap around the south lake to help rebuild my strength.

Sloan's Lake, in NW Denver, which was once a cow pasture.  Farmer Sloan dug a new well one evening, and the next morning found a 200 acre lake in his backyard.

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Where downtown begins, at Broadway and Colfax, in front of the Capitol.

City and County of Denver Building, from the Capitol steps.

Colorado State Capitol:  The dome is covered in actual gold.  Every once in awhile some wag suggests they pull it down and pay bills with it.

The thirteenth step measures exactly 5,280 feet above sea level.

Like many cities, Denver destroyed much of its historic architecture to make way for laundromats and parking garages.  Every once in a while you see a block like this, and it breaks your heart.

Downtown Denver is home to many diagonal pedestrian crossings, once known locally as "Barnes Dances."

The Sixteenth Street Mall, one of the most successful urban redevelopments in American history.

Those yellow awnings mark the Barnes & Noble, where Noah and I used to meet for our walks around downtown.

Despite all its modern construction, downtown Denver has managed to hold on to many of the beautiful old buildings.  Noah and I would wander around for hours looking at them and sighing.

Looking at these pictures nearly brings tears to my eyes. Why did I ever leave?

* * *


  1. As a Denverite-at-heart in Colorado Springs, I loved this post. I bought my first King-Cat at Wax Trax in about 1996. I lived a few blocks from your Marion apartment, first at 8th & Humboldt, then at 13th & Humboldt. I, too, spent a lot of time at the Queen Soopers.

  2. I lived at Pennsylvania & 10 for about 5 years and remember your first apt. bldg well, on my walk to Queen Soopers & Wild Oats. I live in NYC and like a lot about it, but I pine for Denver. I worked at the public library downtown and my commute to work was a 5 minute walk.

  3. This post made me appreciate Denver more than I ever had before. Thanks for sharing some interesting facts that I had not known before.

  4. This was so nice to see. I miss Denver a lot. I'm in Lexington, KY now. John, we (Felt Pilots and Apples) used to share that practice space with you down by the library, and we had shows there... do you remember? I bet it's not there anymore. A lot has changed I see, but some things were eerily the same like Wax Trax. It's still beautiful. I haven't gone back to visit since 2003!! I still read and love your comics, and pine for Denver from time to time.


  5. Awesome post man!!! I think we should BOTH move back there. I was hoping for a shot of the practice space but like Hil said it's probably gone. I think about our 4x4 trips a lot - so weird to think we could get in the car, drive for 60 mins and be smack dab in the mountains!!! Denver is the best...hope u r doing well. xo - D

  6. Yes, that old practice space/gallery on Bannock Street has been torn down... I'm pretty sure it's still just a weed-filled lot, but that neighborhood has changed so much.

    Don, I think about those 4x4 trips a lot too. We were up there almost every weekend. It was so nice to have that wilderness at our beck and call.

  7. I just came across your blog because I did a Google search for the first house we owned in Denver - at 2929 W. 33rd Ave., where you lived for one month! I live in Massachusetts now and LOVE all your pictures of Denver. It's like going home for me. Thank you!


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