Rory Root, a good friend and one of the best comic shop retailers in the country passed away on Monday.
There are numerous memories of Rory and his store Comic Relief in Berkely, CA all over the web. You can see some on the Beat, and over on The Comics Reporter.
(the photos in this entry are from those two sites)
Rory's personality was bigger than life, and he worked hard to promote comics as both recreation and as an art form.
He was also a character in BONE. He was one of the villagers who was always trying to wring Phoney Bone's neck.
Vijaya and I just saw Rory in Vegas during the ComicsPro meeting there and he was looking healthier than he had in while. He'd quit smoking and seemed in good spirits.
Rory was one of the comics retailers who really cared about comics, especially indie comics, at a time when very few others even carried them. His store Comic Relief in Berkley was one of the first that I know of that regularly carried and restocked a full range of graphic novels – - a move that looks prescient today.
Rory, along with Jim Hanley, Joe Field, and a few other big players in retailing were the first people I met in comics, even before I met Neil Gaiman or Dave Sim. Probably at a retailing conference put on by Diamond or Capital distributors. Rory was encouraging, and welcoming to Vijaya and me when we moved to the San Fransisco Bay area in the early 90s, often inviting us to the store and taking us out to dinner back when we were just starting out, and constantly introducing us to other cartoonists and important players in the retailing field.
We would see Rory every year in San Diego at the Con and he always greeted every member of my Cartoon Books staff with hugs and good humor the moment we stepped on the convention floor. Every single year he wanted to be the first person to see what little goodie we were going to unpack from our crates. And every year he put his money where his mouth was, supporting me and many other smaller publishers at the end of the Comicon by taking any unsold books off our hands (at a pretty hefty discount, of course, but that was Rory!). I will miss him.
An era has ended. Good bye, Rory.